In a world where mobile technology offers new opportunities for working and learning, the modern office is no longer constrained by the walls of a building. Suddenly, the world is at our fingertips, anytime, anywhere. Yet, while technology propels us forward, many managers are lagging. In a world where work looks like this—
—why are some managers still operating like this?
Are you still wondering:
If so, you may be lagging behind the work environment that current technologies have created.
C2 helps managers answer those questions so that they are well equipped to manage today’s mobile workforce.
How Can I Manage My Employees If I Never See Them?
Losing sight of employees can seem like loss of control, but how much control did you really have anyway? Yes, you could see that Joe was dutifully sitting at his desk every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But how do you know he was doing any work? Maybe that productive tapping on his keyboard was an especially exciting game of solitaire, or maybe he’d just sold his old record collection on eBay.
When you can no longer measure employee productivity by time spent at their desks, you measure results achieved. This requires you to determine proactively what you want employees to do and how you’ll know that they’ve achieved the desired results.
Take the time to meet regularly with employees to discuss their tasking and priorities. Be clear about
If it’s a big project, break it down into manageable steps so both you and the employee can see progress, and so you can make necessary course corrections before it’s too late.
Electronic systems like SharePoint can help you to set project milestones and monitor them regularly. You can set up a task list and have employees check off completed tasks. At a glance, you can see the progress that each employee is making. And once you can see those results, is it really all that important to see the person at his or her desk?
Focusing on results can be a bit more challenging in service-oriented jobs like Help Desks, in which employees are fielding incoming requests as opposed to creating deliverables. The types of results you’re looking for will be different, but you can still set criteria to evaluate those results. For example, you can set standards for how quickly calls should be answered and addressed.
All of this planning may seem like extra work, but it’s work you should be doing anyway. It’s just a good management practice to:
As an added benefit, this work will make performance management easier. Instead of offering vague comments about “doing a good job,” you’ll be able to offer concrete data that let employees know whether they have exceeded or fallen short of their goals. And since you will already have discussed goals and expectations, employees will already know where they stand. No uncomfortable surprises.
How Can I Create a Cohesive Team If We’re Never All Together in One Place?
Another common complaint of the virtual office space is that it’s harder to build a team when people are not collocated. Anyone who’s ever had a long-distance relationship knows that being together isn’t the only thing that bonds people. In Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong, researchers Carl Larson and Frank LaFasto identify eight principles for excellent teams, which in summary are:
Notice that not one of those principles requires that team members be collocated. In fact, current technologies offer many capabilities to help people stay connected. For example, LinkedIn connects us with thousands of like-minded professionals. Skype lets us converse face-to-face with colleagues around the world.
What’s missing from the virtual office space are those chance encounters that serendipitously create results we never even considered. As the manager, you must learn to be proactive in creating collaborative encounters. You have to take the time to know what you want to achieve and then do the work to make it happen. Here are some ways that managers have successfully established and maintained virtual teams:
Change is always hard, and mobile technologies are creating major changes in organizations. By managing proactively, not only can you lead your workforce through these changes successfully, you can improve your effectiveness in leading.