Managing Remote Staff: The Two Most Important Things You Need to Know

I’ve been interested in telecommuting – or what is more commonly these days referred to as remote work – for many years now. My interest prompted me to research and write a book on telecommuting in 1991. Having worked as a freelance business journalist for a long time, while also employed full-time as director of corporate communications in the education, energy, and healthcare industries, I had worked remotely with a variety of editors for many years. Why couldn’t I also work remotely as a corporate communications director for companies in other locations?

A Long Pathway to Widespread Remote Work Adoption

This was an especially pertinent question for me at a time when the company I was working for was engaged in a merger that would have required me to relocate or look for another job. I didn’t want to do either. So, as I tend to do when faced with a burning question about something, I decided to write about the topic. I was able to interest a publisher in the idea which allowed me to do research for my writing was also exploring my own personal interest in the topic.

Unfortunately, at the time what I discovered was that telecommuting wasn’t really much of a “thing.” In fact, it was relatively rare – and especially rare for companies to actually hire people for remote positions who they’d never met. There were situations where trusted employees might be allowed to telecommute if they had to relocate for family reasons, for instance. And, for people in sales or IT roles, the potential for telecommuting was greater than for people like me in corporate communication roles. But still, not that prevalent at the time.

Fast forward to 2020 and, as we all so profoundly know, the world has changed!

Pandemic Propels Sudden Interest in Managing Remote Workers

In March as thousands of companies around the country had to send people home to work, the idea of telecommuting – or remote work – firmly took hold. Since then, as many companies and individuals have found, remote work can work! In fact, there are studies that indicate that employees working from home can actually be more productive, and more satisfied with their jobs, than employees working in traditional work settings.

Earlier this year as I was working on a series of webinars for a local business organization one of the topics I was covering was how to manage remote workers. I contacted my publisher to see if copies of my book might be available and they asked me if I would be interested in writing a new book. Why not?

My book – Managing Remote Staff – was released by Self-Counsel Press in November.

Managing Remote Workers Really Not Much Different Than Managing Onsite Staff

One of the big misconceptions about managing remote workers is that it somehow requires different skills than managing onsite staff. It doesn’t. The truth of the matter is that good management is good management, whether your employees are across the globe or across the office from you. When staff is suddenly remote, though, many managers feel like managing them requires a different process. What managing remote workers should really bring to light, though, is that some management best practices are critical in any environment. Chief among them:

  • Establishing specific measurable goals, objectives and required deliverables
  • Communication, communication, communication

In researching this book I got input from a wide range of managers. Some had been managing remote workers for years; others were new to the process. In all cases, though, the big takeaway about remote management, for now and into the future, is that it can work. In fact, it can work quite well. And I, personally, think that the move to remote work will help to improve supervisory and management skills significantly.

What steps are you taking to prepare your supervisory management staff to effectively manage remote staff?

 

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Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create, and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve your desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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