In a climate of ever-developing connectivity, organizations the world over are keen to enhance their performance, increase competitiveness, grow in the global market and implement best practice in the shortest possible time. This brings challenges, particularly for businesses looking to harness the benefits of remote working or operate across a wider geographical area where mangers need to recognize that their leadership is key to success. Here are some of the tips to improve business through remote working: 1. Decide whether you wish to work as a team or as a group. 2. Map out a clear and compelling vision, which everyone buys into and which clarifies everyone's expectations. 3. Recognize the importance of trust and take account of the fact that it needs to be developed differently in remote working situations. 8. Consider what communication tools will deliver the desired results. 10. Avoid imposing your own values and outlook.
The effects of the financial crisis, the constantly evolving global economy and the ever-changing workplace have resulted in more people working in remote teams or from their own homes. Russell Evans, managing director of organisational and people development consultancy Primeast, and his director colleague, Warwick Abbott, are consulted by organisations around the world to implement remote working practices. In this article they offer their guidance and support to managers who find themselves in this situation.
Twenty years ago, it would have been hard to conceive that so many brands would operate across so many continents. And it would have been just as difficult to predict the proliferation of home workers - two million in the UK alone - who now benefit from greater flexibility,
This fundamental shift has brought a host of challenges not just for today's managers, who have to ensure that their teams perform across significant distances, but also for the remote worker who has to stay motivated while aiming to meet targets away from the hustle and bustle of an office.
In a climate of ever-developing connectivity, organisations the world over are keen to enhance their performance, increase competitiveness, grow In the global market and implement best practice in the shortest possible time. This brings challenges, particularly for businesses looking to harness the benefits of remote working or operate across a wider geographical area where mangers need to recognise that their leadership is key to success.
This way of working Is far from straightforward, for instance, the communication needs to be more frequent, more overt and more specific. Working with people remotely or virtually might pose some challenges but, If approached properly and If closely monitored, can deliver significant benefits. We hope that the ten top tips in the panel and the case history provided here, will help to add value and improve your business performance.
Primeast delivers experiential learning In handling change management, developing leadership skills and driving teamwork to businesses across the world.
The organisation is EN ISO9001 ;2008 approved for quality in the design and delivery of management and organisational development programmes.
Ten top tips to improve your business through remote working
1. Decide whether you wish to work as a team or as a group. Operating as a team will require greater effort to achieve added value and benefits, whereas a group is a simpler affair with linear links to the leader and where each person's responsibility is principally to meet their individual target.
2. Map out a clear and compelling vision, which everyone buys into and which clarifies everyone's expectations.
3. Become adept at engaging your people and enabling individuals or teams through coaching, rather than through instruction, so that all feel they are contributing to the organisation's overall strategy, even though they're not at the hub.
4. Recognise the importance of trust and take account of the fact that it needs to be developed differently in remote working situations.
5. Reward and compensate in line with individual preferences and set measurements of performance based on results, not activities. This permits some flexibility in how things are delivered and avoids unnecessary micro management
6. Develop and agree how to communicate as a team, particularly when it comes to making decisions, resolving issues and delivering results.
7. Keep in touch using as many different media as possible. Regularly check In with members to monitor progress and provide necessary feedback. Keep members apprised of critical information and decisions.
8. Consider what communication tools will deliver the desired results. Audio and visual conferencing might suit the leader but not have the attention of the participants.
9. Monitor performance and constantly evaluate the processes in place to maximise the benefits of remote working. If productivity and overheads do not show immediate improvements, it may be because you have failed to engage managers and employees In the new working arrangement.
10. Avoid imposing your own values and outlook. Be open to diversity and recognise how everyone brings something to the party.
Case Study: How to comfort and support a remote worker
Primeast has been working with one of the company's UK teams to ease a senior engineer's transition into remote working.
This is an unusual case because, for some years, the engineer operated remotely as a loan worker in Antwerp with the rest of the team based in the UK. He joined his colleagues in the UK in 2006 and recently the team was reorganised and he returned to Belgium.
On the one hand, he was excited to be returning to his home city. On the other hand, he became used to a bustling, friendly team environment and missed the day-to-day interaction, its richness and content, the humour, the banter, the news and the sharing of ideas. He feared that he would become isolated and ignored. Equipped with this new foresight, he recognised that his challenge was to remain engaged with his remote colleagues.
In such situations, Primeast encourages team members to hold a "value meeting" before the remote working begins. The content of this meeting should include a strategy: how can this team member, as a newly installed remote worker, continue to add value to the business? How will his performance be monitored and managed? In the short-term, it Is Important to assess the remote worker's expectations, and to ensure that these expectations can be met.
A long-term strategy is also essential. We recommended that a small group of people within the team take responsibility for caring for the team's remote worker. They stay in regular contact with him, keeping him up to date on team matters great and small and ensuring that he continues to view himself as a valued team member.
When a remote working strategy is developed, Primeast also encourages teams to develop and clarify their purposes, processes and behaviours. By ensuring that decisions are made together, successes are celebrated together and the leadership style is uniform across the team. In this way, many potential conflicts with discomfited remote workers can be avoided