Managing Teleworkers with Confidence

Managing employees in a hybrid environment when on any given day some employees work from home and some are in the office can be challenging.  With the guidance and tips on this page, you can manage employees successfully and with confidence.

Telework!VA provides free customized training for managers and employees to be successful in a work environment that includes telework.  Contact Telework!VA to learn more.

Manager Skills

Managers need to have the skills and knowledge to manage in today’s workplace arrangement.  Telework!VA can provide training to managers and employees to work successfully.  Successful managers need to:

  • Have excellent communications skills. Communicating up, down, and across the agency is a key skill for success.
  • Set a good example. Follow the rule, do as I say and
  • Be respectful.
  • Be clear and concise with directions.
  • Be fair when delegating or assigning work. Many employees accomplish more when working from home, but do not assign more work to someone just because that person works from home.
  • Understand employees have different communication styles and preferences. Not every employee is motivated by the same type of communication.  Learn your employees’ individual preference to find out what style work more successfully.
  • Trust the integrity and professionalism of employees
  • Manage by results, not time seen in the office
  • Be flexible with their own schedule and those of their employees

Trust

A successful workplace relies on the trust between management and employees.  Trust should not be different just because an employee is working from home. If you trust employees are working when they are in the office, then they should be trusted when working from home. Trust your employees until you have a reason not to.  If you do not trust an employee to work from home productively, consider why you feel that way.  What reasons has the employee given you not to trust them?  Figure out how the employee can earn your trust and talk to the employee about what they can do.

Top 3 Challenges for Managers

Communication: How do I keep everyone in the loop and maintain effective communication?

Collaboration: How do we stay connected and not stifle creativity and innovation?

Monitoring Performance: How do I know they are working

These are the most frequently asked questions from managers.  Telework!VA can show you how to answer these questions.  Contact us today.

Communication

Effective communication leads to a successful workplace.  Communication goes both ways.  Employees must communicate regularly to their manager, and managers must communicate regularly to employees.  Use all communication tools and technologies to ensure that all team members are included and receive the information and feedback they need. Do not leave anyone out. Encourage your staff to reach out immediately when they need assistance (keep a virtual open door).

Collaboration

Collaboration can be a challenge, particularly when some employees are in the office and others are working from home. Fortunately, there are technology solutions to collaboration challenges. Use technology tools to hold virtual meetings, brainstorm with virtual whiteboard, share ideas with instant messaging or chat tools, and review/edit/comment on reports and documents with document sharing tools. Try what works best to build your virtual team.

Performance

All employees are accountable for the success of the company. Accountability is a must have in an office setting, including a hybrid work model. Managers need to be able to answer the question, how do I know they are working? The answer starts with getting rid of associating a workplace or building with the act of working. Focus on the output of the work that is being done and manage by results and not observation. Establish measurable deliverables to evaluate performance and accountability, and as a means to address poor performance as well as acknowledging great performance.

Tips for Managing Teleworkers

The only difference in the daily supervision of an employee that is teleworking is that you cannot talk to them face-to-face. Other than that, how you measure whether or not work is being done is the same. Just being in the office does not automatically mean work is getting done. Likewise not being able to actually see an employee does not automatically mean work is not being done.

  • Teleworking does mean a change to how you communicate with an employee when you cannot talk to them face-to-face. Use all of the communications technologies available. (Email, text, virtual/video meetings, instant messaging, and telephone) It may take a bit of trial to see what works best for you and your employees.
  • Set reasonable expectations of your teleworking staff. Set your employees up for success.
  • Do not pile on work. Workloads should be consistent with when the employee is in the office.
  • If you are not comfortable with checking in with an employee by email, set up a regularly schedule for phone calls and/or video chat.
  • Set a good example as a teleworker when you telework. Do all of the things you expect out of your teleworking staff.
  • If you ever wonder what an employee is working on, do not wait for them to contact you. Reach out to them and schedule regular check-ins so you feel comfortable that your employees are working on the important assignments.