The concept of remote workers has been a growing trend especially in global organizations. The problem is that some organizations have approached managing remote workers the same as traditional office workers. For example, Marissa Mayer at Yahoo in 2013 required all remote workers to return to the office or be terminated. It was rumored that many of the workers were not productive and Yahoo had lost track of some even though they were still on the payroll. More recently (May, 2017), IBM ordered its remote workers to report to the nearest office or be terminated. It was reported that as many as 40% of its employees were working remotely. I think both cases are indicators that these companies were not managing remote workers well. Remote workers cannot be managed the same as office workers. It is not possible to lose track of a remote worker when managed effectively.
Remote workers can be as productive or even more productive than office workers when managed effectively. In addition, they can provide benefits to the organization such as a reduction in costs. The key is in effectively managing them. Effective management of remote workers is a learned behavior. Research now is reporting specific actions for managers to effectively manage remote workers. These management techniques can be learned through training. In addition, remote workers organized in teams need to be developed as well. This can also be done through training. Online training is available that is effective and can even be conducted in real time to develop virtual teams to levels of high performance.
Not all employees make good virtual workers. There are characteristics for good virtual workers that can be used in screening employees for remote work. Doing this provides a systemic approach to highly productive virtual workers and teams that includes selection, development, and effective management. The last component of a systemic approach is evaluation. The performance of virtual workers and teams should be evaluated. The results should be visible to office workers as well. Doing this build support within the organization for remote workers and their contribution to the company’s bottom-line performance. FTD provides a systemic approach to managing virtual workers and teams based upon the latest research.