Supervising teleworkers takes a specialized set of skills. The following are some adjustments you may need to make in adapting to this new way of managing:
- Maintain a sense of control even when people are out of sight.
- Develop increased levels of trust and use trust as a purposeful tool.
- Use technology for staying in touch with teleworkers.
- Rethink and redesign the way certain jobs are performed.
- Plan meetings and other team activities further in advance.
- Focus objectives and expectations on short-term, project-based goals.
- Adopt location-independent ways of measuring performance and results.
- Transition teamwork toward more electronic-based collaboration.
Here are some management guidelines that can help ensure a successful telework program:
- Managing teleworkers by close, constant supervision isn't possible or desirable. Instead, manage primarily on the basis of results.
- Discuss in advance what you expect from teleworkers and be certain they understand the criteria you will be using to rate their performance.
- Track progress by results.
- Be certain that teleworkers understand the deadlines for assignments and the resources required to meet them.
- Use planning skills to effectively distribute work so that off-site and on-site personnel are treated equally.
- Establish a regular means of communication to help clarify work expectations, deadlines, questions and important office developments.
- Set up a regular schedule of progress reviews.
- Use your time spent with telework employees to coach and help develop their capabilities. Quickly reinforce positive behavior and bring unsatisfactory performance to the employee's attention. Maintain contact with off-site staff via voice mail, electronic mail and teleconferences, to provide timely, ongoing feedback.
- If the arrangement isn't working out, it is OK to drop out of the program. Telework offers numerous benefits, but is not ideal for every job or every employee.