July 2014
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TD Magazine

Managing Remote Workers

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Balance employees' freedom with a strong connection to the organization.

According to some analysts, 63 million Americans will call somewhere other than the office their workplace by 2016. A recent Gallup study found that employees who work remotely up to 35 percent of the time log more hours and are slightly more engaged.

As the virtual workforce grows in size, best practices for managing it are emerging. Erika Tedesco, author of the December 2013 Infoline, "Managing the Virtual Workforce," offers the following advice.

Extroverts often are best suited to remote work. They will have the confidence to connect with co-workers and build relationships while working remotely. Introverts, who might use a remote work setting to remain in the shadows, are not an ideal fit.

Writing an accurate job description is especially important for remote positions. This means providing clarity on the reporting structure, departmental roles, expectations and goals for the position, and inter-departmental connectivity.

Running meetings is a challenge even when workers are physically gathered. For meetings that include remote workers, it is important to have an agenda with clear and narrow goals, invite only attendees who have a vested role in these goals, and keep the conversation on track.


Build engagement with remote employees through virtual team-building activities. Rewards and other forms of recognition for remote workers also are significant engagement-builders, but they must be timely, specific, and related to the goals and values of the organization. Remote workers need to feel valued by their team and their organization.

Remote work has yet to overtake the traditional office and the 9-to-5 workday, but its growing popularity has resulted in an entirely new work culture. The above guidelines will help ensure success for everyone involved.

About the Author

Bettina Timme is a former project manager in the education department of the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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