3 simple tips for managing a remote workforce

Photo: Glenn Hunt/Getty Images.

There’s no denying that the nature of work is rapidly changing, fuelled by the rise of the digital age that enables companies and employees to interface and conduct their work outside of the traditional office environment.

This has resulted in a pivotal shift in enabling that coveted work-life balance, with cloud based tools and instant server access allowing people the opportunity to work remotely to suit family commitments or escape the hours wasted on a daily commute.

As much as this suits Aussie employees, the best part of this is that companies are catching on and considerably supporting this flexible workplace revolution. A recent Regus survey reinforced this by revealing that 80 per cent of Australian businesses have shifted their focus to measuring employee outputs rather than time spent in the office.

But here in lies the problem; less than half of Aussie firms (44%) are offering senior management special training in supervising a remote workforce — and with the same survey identifying that over half of Australian professionals (54%) are now working away from their main company office for at least half of the working week — it’s imperative that we upskill management to ensure both parties understand and take advantage of this new working culture.

We now need to start thinking about the framework around this to support these managers to further enhance their business outputs. We’ve done the research and we know the benefits of flexible working are tenfold: improved productivity, better staff retention and lower operating costs are just a few.

Lines of communication

Image: Shutterstock.

So how do we do it? I would start by improving the lines of communication so that employees feel supported and engaged with the team. Implementing technology, such as remote-accessible servers and cloud-based messenger tools is a smart, cost-effective way to manage this and would allow management to stay connected and across their teams’ output.

Building trust

Most importantly, the key to being a successful remote manager is about building trust with your team. This creates an element of accountability with your workers and also a willingness to perform. In fact, Regus research found that 78% of senior managers claim that they are more productive if they can work flexibly, and 42% of junior employees became more responsible and disciplined through remote working.

Rewards and incentives

Another tool is to offer rewards and incentives to acknowledge those who are bringing value to the business. Employee recognition cannot be underestimated in today’s fast-paced business environment and will ensure your team remain motivated and committed to the company.

Ultimately, the prevalent shift towards flexible working practices is recognised world-over, so don’t forget your management skills need to adapt just as much as your operations.

John Henderson is CEO of Regus Australia and New Zealand.

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