November 1, 2012 - FILED UNDER Agile Business
Mobile Methods: Tips for Managing Remote Workers
It’s a mobile, mobile world, you guys.
Interesting fact: A recent survey from Citrix revealed that a majority of people who have never worked remotely (64%) would trade one highly popular life perk for just one work from home day a week (side note: I suddenly feel like a jerk for having two):
- 32% would give up their lunch break
- 25% would give up alcohol
- 20% would give up coffee
While the ask couldn’t be clearer, managers from all corners of today’s digitally-powered world are running into snags when it comes to responding. The same survey reports that half of office workers claim their boss straight up opposes remote working, while a third feel their boss merely tolerates it, and only 15% have a boss that actually encourages working out of the office.
Home Sweet Office
If you’re a manager who’s having trouble getting used to the idea of not seeing your people between 9 and 5, Mark Dixon, founder and chief executive of Regus, a global provider of flexible work spaces, offered some helpful advice in a recent Forbes article (How to Manage the New Mobile Workforce). His tips break down into four handy one-word buckets:
Balance: Remote workers are becoming more necessary to business success with every passing advance in mobile technology, and there’s no stopping it. But once you hire these on-the-go white collars, it makes sense to extend the welcome by offering them access to professional work spaces when they need it. “They need to know they can get professional services and support when required,” writes Dixon. “They need professional locations where they can come together face-to-face, whether for meetings with colleagues and clients, or for working on special projects.”
Connect: The thing about connecting digitally is that the more we do it, the more it highlights the importance of connecting in person. Dixon suggests complementing the rise in remote working by facilitating and encouraging in-person corporate camaraderie. Opportunities to socialize, formally and informally can go a long way, including offsite outings, professional organizations, supporting relationships with other industry professionals, etc. “Those connections can reinforce your corporate culture and identity.”
Engage: “You have to run your business top down, but it will never work without a similar amount of bottom-up communication,” says Dixon. “The bigger and more virtual you become, the more important such back-to-the-floor activity is. Consider conference calls for general business updates, videoconferencing when personally introducing new products or processes, and in-person meetings for training or business planning. Always keep the lines of communication open and two-way. Provide real-time feedback, and be sure to acknowledge good work and provide constructive criticism as the work comes through. When you’re not regularly face-to-face it can be easy to let things slide, but you must always be engaged, consistent, and flexible.”
In short: lead by example.
Clarify: Communication has always been key in business and in life, but it becomes even more important when it’s done over the digital ether. From day one, communicate your expectations with mobile workers clearly and effectively to avoid misunderstandings. ”The goals should reflect quantifiable end results, not process or hours spent on specific projects.”
Most of us already know this, but it can’t be stressed enough: work is something we do, not a place we go. Leaders who understand this shift and align their processes accordingly will certainly be better equipped to roll with the pivots as well as economical punches.
For more Mobile Method goodness, check out our post on why your business needs a texting strategy here.