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Managers: Are you preventing progress for your employees?

We’ve been watching a steady growth of telecommuting around the world.

Recent data suggests the trend is not going away. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management predicts the practice of working from home will increase significantly through 2020.

The SHRM survey asked human-resource professionals about their experiences with and thoughts on flexible working programs.

The majority of respondents — 83 per cent — expect telecommuting will become more prevalent in the next five years; 89 per cent said other flexibile work arrangements will become more prevalent in the next five years.

telecommuting success

The survey also revealed flexible work arrangements are an important part of an effective workplace, contributing to employee job satisfaction, retention and health.

A big barrier to telecommuting, however, is workplace culture, says Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs.

“The role of managers is central to the success of flexible work arrangements,” Esen said. “Managers need to work with HR to communicate to employees what options are available and how they benefit the goals of both employees and the organization.”

Don’t be an obstacle

A team’s manager should be an individual employees rely on to overcome obstacles they encounter in their day-to-day work tasks.

When research continually shows productivity and employee satisfaction are top benefits of telecommuting, should a manager stand in the way of offering flexible work arrangements?

Trouble is, many managers are unsure how supervise off-site team members. How do you monitor their work quality and quantity? How do you communicate with them?

We’ve dwelled on these questions many times on The Monday Morning Conference Call. Yet the reservations remain.

Ace management consultant David C. Baker says managers must improve their interpersonal skills to make a telecommuting program a success.

He told Management Today recently that managing remote employees can complicate communications.

“When you are managing someone at a distance, you can’t as easily pick up the personal cues about what might be happening in someone’s work life,” Baker said. “You also miss the visual part of communication and the casual verbal exchanges as you pass each other in the hallway or in the lunch room.”

He suggests managers go out of their way to stay connected and show telecommuters they are appreciated. He advocates regular conference calls to ensure everyone understands their work objectives, along with regular reports from each member of the remote team.

Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, says

companies — and managers — need to get over these reservations about telework if they want to be a part of the global business landscape.

“If you’re a company that wants to be competitive in a globalized, constantly connected world and you decide to not acknowledge these facts, you will be caught with your pants down sooner rather than later,” she writes. “When it comes down to it, that way of working is more in tune with the 20th century workplace than the 21st century one.”

Truth be told, many employees already work “remote” at times. After all, you’ve given them smartphones or tablets so they can be reachable via email, text or phone, right?

Technology has allowed us to be mobile and to work in locations other than the company-assigned cubicles.

Is it time to move your company forward?

“If companies always held back from changing the way they do business, we’d still be using typewriters, secretarial pools, and rolodexes in the office,” says Sutton Fell. “Remote working is only unmanageable if companies choose not to proactively manage it.

“If a formalized program is put into place, it doesn’t take any more effort to manage remote workers than it does to manage traditional workers; all it takes is a shift in how you manage them.”

Can you make that shift?

Observations & Answers Tagged , |By amacisaac on Comments

What does your home office need?

Sometimes I wonder why I bothered to buy a desk and chair.

Sure, they’re great for making sure I maintain proper posture when I’m working away at my laptop.

Sure, they help give me a more professional appearance when I’m on video for a web conference. I’m sitting up straight and I have a nice blank wall behind me.

The trouble is, I don’t always feel at my most creative when I’m at my desk.

As I type away today, I’m on my couch, propped up by a pillow and snuggled under a fleece blanket. It’s how I like to spend my telecommuting days once the maple leaves fall and mercury dips to freezing temperatures.

In the summer, I’m outside on the patio, enjoying the sunshine.

I have to admit I got a little jealous when I clicked on an Apartment Therapy headline that read 15 Beautiful and Inspiring Workspaces.

Some of the home offices are clean and modern, while others have a beautiful vintage feel to them, like this one:

home office telecommuting

Many telecommuters, like my fiancé, need to have a structured place to get their work done … a sanctuary with a door to close, shelves to stock with books and manuals, and office supplies within reach.

Outside of the usual equipment, like the computers, printer/scanner and paper shredder, my fiancé stresses the need for:

✓ A comfortable, ergonomic chair
✓ Lots of natural light
✓ Ample shelving
A coffee mug warmer

I find it difficult to disagree with him. Throw in a white board, a stack of notepads and a cup full of pens and highlighters for me.

Once we get married in 2015, I’ll have a new place to set up an office.

But since we both have very different working styles, rest assured it will be at the other end of the house.

I do know my area will probably be messier. That’s just how creative minds work.

What does your office space look like?

Tips & Resources Tagged , |By amacisaac on Comments
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