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Managing a Remote Workforce

Date Posted: Thursday, 29 January 2015 11:44
Posted By: Kerry Butters

Teleworking has been on the rise now ever since technology enabled better ways of connecting to the office, even when out in the field. In the US, the ranks of the remote worker have been rising steadily between 2005 and 2012 and it’s thought that by 2013 there were around 3 million people taking the option to work from home.

Whilst teleworking may not be about to completely overtake the standard 9-5 working day, more and more employers are choosing to offer it. This is boosted in firms which operate BYOD schemes as employees’ work and home life become increasingly blurred. However, for some organisations, offering flexible and remote working is a big step and one in which they worry about such things as productivity.

To some extent, Marissa Meyer, Yahoo CEO, increased concerns around teleworking when she famously banned all remote workers from working from home and said that they have to be working in a Yahoo office, or not at all.

Employees at the time received a memo from human resources boss Jackie Reeses, who wrote: "Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices."

As to the reasons why, it’s thought that many of the employees working remotely “weren’t productive” and even that some of the workers had worked from home for so long that many in the company never even knew they still worked there.

Intranet Success

Employees or Management

However, it’s fair to say that the management of an organisation’s employees is the responsibility of the executive staff and if workers at Yahoo were essentially just slacking off, then they were not being managed effectively. And it’s this that puts many off when it comes to allowing employees to work from home.

According to research carried out by Dell and Intel, more than half of all global employees believe that they are more productive when working from home than their office-based counterparts. This, Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst at TECHanalysis Research says, is due to the fact that workers now have more advanced equipment and faster internet connections at home.

46% of those that work from home also said that they suffer less stress than they do when working in an office. Of course, there are negatives too, such as having children at home who distract them from work. However, remote working should be something that’s offered on a practical level and so for those that it’s not suitable for, they can remain working from the office or use a mixture of both.

Company Culture

Whether or not teleworking will be successful within an organisation depends on a few factors then. One of the most important if productivity is to remain high is in the fostering of a good company culture. Marissa Mayer may very well have been right when it came to not trusting the employees who were working remotely at that time, but trust is a very important part of the equation if a teleworking policy is going to work. It’s important that employees enjoy their work, understand their place and how important the work they do is to the organisation and flourish in a company culture where work matters.

Get this right in the first instance and it’s very likely that your teleworking drive will be much easier to manage. It’s also vital that robust communication and collaboration infrastructures are put in place, which is simple enough these days. All that’s needed is a good intranet that has social tools that enable workers to connect and collaborate with both each other and senior management.

Once all of this is in place, managing the distributed workforce becomes much less complex and certainly less frustrating for all involved.

Challenges Faced by the Worker

Of course, it’s also important to look at what challenges will be faced by the worker as well as the organisation. And with that in mind, Elcom hosted webinars on 5 & 19 February 2015 to look at the challenges faced by the organisation and by remote workers.

Register for the Intranet Success Webinar

We also discussed technology and the intranet and how these can be leveraged to effectively manage a remote team.

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