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Managing a Remote Workforce: Proven Practices from Successful Leaders
A Citrix© GoToMeeting© White Paper Prepared by James Ware and Charles Grantham
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles, books, blogs, and Websites filled with advice about how to manage remote workers (or telecommuters, or workshifters, or distributed teams1). However, most of that advice amounts to broad generalizations or “bumper-sticker”-like slogans that are well-meant but rather shallow: “Pay attention to your staff’s personal life,” “Measure what they produce, not how much time they spend,” “Hold regular conference calls,” “Check in with your subordinates on a regular basis.”
While those slogans do point in the right direction, they tend to be stated as universal truths even though the real world is full of complexity and varying contexts. Worse, they don’t begin to deal with why and how companies choose to embrace workforce mobility. And an organization’s motivations and experiences make a huge difference in what works and what doesn’t.
Therefore, with Citrix Online’s support and encouragement, we set out to produce a different kind of understanding about the challenges surrounding the management of remote workers. Most importantly, we studied the real-world experiences of leading- edge organizations in order to identify what really works, and under what conditions.
This summary of our research addresses three fundamental management questions:
We tend to use those terms interchangeably, though there are certainly subtle distinctions among them. However, our current interest and focus is on best practices in managing people who are in locations at some distance from their boss. In our judgment, what matters is the distance between manager and subordinate, not what label someone has put on the job category.
1. Why do organizations launch distributed work programs in the first place?
2. What practices and tools do successful organizations rely on to manage remote staff effectively?
© Copyright 2010 by The Work Design Collaborative, LLC. All rights reserved.
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