Submitted by johnlebeau on
I have 2 directs and 3 skips that work remote. Other than one-on-ones and regular project updates – I wonder if they actually are working a full day or allowing the work to fill the day. In Marks last things I think email; he just says we need to work harder! I prefer to work smarter! How do I do this? I am drafting a proposed policy for our company to address the remote worker. This is a growing population of our workers. Does anyone have such a policy at their company? Here is what I am thinking: The remote worker will email or upload a written daily status including what they are working on today, what they completed yesterday and any issues they encounter that need help (should not wait for a daily update if on a critical path). They should have a separate environment in their home to reduce interruptions and keep their work organized. Each employee needs to be available and responsive to communications. We use Lync , so they need to be logged in during work hours, have a good internet connection, a company issued computer, a web cam, and a land line phone. Responses or acknowledgements should be returned within X number of time units?? (not sure on this) What are your thoughts? Thank you
Podcasts for managing distant directs
Give these a listen.
Hi John, "Here is what I am
"Here is what I am thinking: The remote worker will email or upload a written daily status including what they are working on today, what they completed yesterday and any issues they encounter that need help (should not wait for a daily update if on a critical path)."
I prefer to do this via a daily call with some of my more junior managers, so I schedule daily 30 minute calls with them. We don't always have them, and they almost never last longer than 10 minutes. It gives me time to continue to develop the professional relationship and get a handle of what is going on in remote offices.
I'm figuring your in IT so you might want to adopt a scrum style discussion around three simple questions.
The individual's also really benefit from the daily chat and talk about how much they enjoy the guaranteed time with their boss.
Anyway, just my way of doing things.
Sounds a bit heavy
Hi John - I've got remote people as well, and it's fairly common where I work. What I've found works best is to give them more work than you think they can handle, and follow-up on all of it regularly. This is also effective for office-based employees, who are just as likely to let the work they have fill the day. When someone in the office doesn't have enough pressing work to do they tend to spend more time chatting, checking news feeds, doing personal email, etc. More work on your plate seems to fix this.
A few comments on your some of your proposals:
The remote worker will email or upload a written daily status including what they are working on today, what they completed yesterday and any issues they encounter that need help.
I personally don't like this. If my boss asked me for this I would do it, but I wouldn't see the value in it. It would make me think he didn't trust me. I do like the idea of a daily phone "stand-up" as suggest by Stephen.
They should have a separate environment in their home to reduce interruptions and keep their work organized.
I'm not sure you can or even should try to enforce how their home work area is configured. If they want to work on their couch, they're probably going to do it regardless of what you say. One thing that may help you though would be to get them webcams and have your daily stand-up via video feed.
Responses or acknowledgements should be returned within X number of time units
I think this is fine if your turnaround expectation is an hour or more. But if you're saying something less than an hour I don't really like it. What if someone is working actively on something that requires lots of concentration? Telling them that they have to allow themselves to be interrupted at any moment goes against most principles on effectiveness. The other side of the argument here is whether or not your people are actually working, or if they are away from their laptops most of the day. I think you can probably get a good handle on this by sending them occasional IMs and seeing how long it takes them to respond. Even if they are working on something, they'll break away from that to reply to their boss (if they're smart they will anyway!).
managing remote workers
For the better part of five years I managed ten exempt staff, nine of whom were remote. The last two years, my team was tops in the organization. With that in mind, here are my thoughts as I telecommute from home sitting on my couch even though I have a perfectly good office right down the hall.-)
I believe the following:
I work from home one day a week. I find that I am less distracted and more productive. I don't have to deal with the stress of my normal commute and I frequently wind up working 2-3 hours longer than when I'm in the office.
managing remote workers
My direct and his team are all remote - on a different continent - so we have two calls daily. One at the end of his day/start of my day to go over work that was done and to identify anything he needs me to take care of while he's sleeping. Another at the end of my day/start of his to provide answers and direction.
It usually works very well, and neither of us has to put in crazy hours to get the job done.
Thanks for your feed back! This is great!
Here is what I'm going with - thanks for your help!
The manager will call the remote worker once a week for a one-on-one conversation to review overall projects, tasks, issues and personal matters.
The remote worker will have a daily call with his/her manager to discuss what they are working on today, what they completed yesterday and any issues they encounter that need help. The remote worker will provide more frequent updates.
The remote worker will maintain a separate work environment in their home to reduce interruptions and keep their work organized.
Each remote employee needs to be available and responsive to communications.
• Be logged in to Lync during work hours.
• Have a good internet connection.
• use a company issued computer.
• Have and use a Web camera.
• Land line phone.
• Maintain and share calendar with manager.
John, sounds like a pretty
sounds like a pretty solid plan, don't forget to spend some time thinking about how to communicate this, most importantly the "why it is being done."
You need to make sure this doesn't sound like the flavour of the week, otherwise the team will ignore you. Perhaps modifying the "one on one" template off this site would work as a starting point?
Excellent point, Steven. John has outlined the skeleton or framework. The way the process is communicated will flesh it out and shape how people perceive it. As a marketing person once told me, "It's not what you sell, it's how you sell it."
I think the first thing on John's list to be eliminated will be the daily call. If the 03 is effective and the manager can rely on other sources for data (reports, email traffic, etc.) then it will fall by the way side as both the manager and direct will discover that it's not necessary.
"I wonder if they actually
"I wonder if they actually are working a full day or allowing the work to fill the day."
Question - How do you know your onsite employees are working a full day or allowing the work to fill the day?
Give them too much work
Pretty straight forward, you over assign the work. But that should be a standard for remote or local directs.
Never met anyone with the same DISC result before.. HI!!!! :)
This topic is near and dear
This topic is near and dear to me; I work for Microsoft and teleworking on distributed teams is a deeply entrenched part of our culture. I'm an individual contributor and my entire team of 11 is remote. I'm in Cincinnati, my boss is in Houston, and everyone else on the team is spread across the central part of the United States. I live about 10 miles from the office here in Cincy but rarely go in. In fact, we have about 80 people that technically call Cincy their "home" office and have a mailbox in the mailroom, all of us spread across many different business units with different reporting chains, but there's rarely more than about 15 people in the office at any one time unless there's a special event. We have offices in pretty much every major metropolitan area across the US and it's the same situation everywhere. Teleworking is simply how we work. In fact we don't even call it teleworking, work is just work and location is irrelevant.
I'll be honest, my reaction to your policy is that it's pretty heavy handed. It sounds like you're managing to the red dot and not to the big clean white sheet.
If your staff has clearly defined performance objectives than much of this policy shouldn't be necessary. Individual exceptions may arise, and you can manage to those exceptions through feedback and coaching. But don't go into a teleworking arrangement assuming that everyone needs to be told how to manage their time. The key is the clearly defined and measurable performance objectives. Your DR's should know what success looks like, and you should trust them to figure out how to get there, while managing their individual needs along the way.
Having said that, you may want to publish some guidelines. We have guideliness such as "Employees should ensure that their respective work environments are ergonomically sound, safe for Microsoft equipment, inclusive of technologies that enable collaboration with team members...., complies with Microsoft security policies," etc. But requiring more frequent check-ins from remote workers sends the message that you don't trust them to manage their time as effectively as on-premise workers. The benefit of NOT establishing a seperate communication policy for remote workers is that you'll more easily be able to differentiate your high performers. M&M have a cast specifically designed for effective remote worker behavior. Give them some rope, let them prove for themselves who can be effective and who needs tighter managing.
Just my opinion.
Jclishe, very well said. In my own organization, there is a school of thought that, due to many factors such as technology, generational differences, and more, the work place "shift" is evolving. Our nonprofit is actually closing offices and asking the employees there to work from home. However, there is still this ( I call it, a "20th century) attitude where if you can't see 'em, you can't trust 'em. Organizations and their HR departments who fail to see this evolution are going to experience a higher employee turnover rate with the resultant loss in profitability.
This is best expressed in your great sentence, "...managing to the red dot and not to the big clean white sheet.." I hope you don't mind if I borrow that. Examples are Gpeden's question above and my own earlier question about having all employees respond to queries in a certain time.
Thanks Glenn! Feel free to
Thanks Glenn! Feel free to use the red dot comment, but it's not mine :) M&M have used it in casts before.
LOL! I am so far behind in listening to the 'casts I can see myself in my own rearview mirror.
Sounds Like Trust Issues
I believe that I've heard on the podcasts multiple times the saying "Trust but verify". To me, this means that you should know if they are doing their work by the simple question, is their work getting done? Is it on time and at or above standard? Do you require the folks that sit in cubes in the office to be logged into Lync all day? To submit daily reports of exactly what they did that day? How do you know they are "working"? Because you can physically see them and they are in their cubes for 8hrs? If your folks are able to get all of the work that's assigned to them completed on time, on budget then I'm failing to see the issue or why you feel the need to check up on them. If they need to be able to answer calls from customers or collaborate with team members then setup a measure for that. Be sure to measure folks in house the same way you measure the ones that are remote workers. But if you just have a feeling that they aren't working, then there's no amount of having them submit status reports or be on lync that is going to ease your mind. It's your inability to trust in your productivity measures that need to be corrected. For the record I currently have 18 remote directs with another 10 in another country and the work gets done. I hold my O3's, and articulate my expectations very clearly with regards to responsiveness and deadlines, just like I do for my directs whom I see in the office every week.