VOICE December 2015 - page 5

their manager because the telecommuter is being
asked to effectively manage their time and them-
selves. If a telecommuter has it communicated to them
that their manager is putting their
trust
in them to
fulfil their job responsibilities it shows them that their
manager trusts and
respects
their work ethic. In turn
the telecommuter will feel motivated and will likely
have an increased sense of loyalty to the organisation.
It may be that the telecommuter’s normal working
hours are interrupted by the daily goings on in their
home, however, when the trust between telecommut-
er and manager is strong, the telecommuter will feel
their work life balance is
supported
and will make up
the time outside of normal working hours to ensure
their workload is completed.
Communication –
Communication is vital - both be-
fore the telecommuting programme begins as well as
once it is in place. It is important to set out the objec-
tives and expectations of the telecommuting pro-
gramme for both the telecommuter and their manager
to ensure the expectations of both parties are commu-
nicated and accepted. This should help avoid confu-
sion or conflict in the future.
Once the programme has started, the telecommuter
still needs to feel part of the team so that there is a
continued sense of inclusivity. Their manager also
needs to feel that the telecommuter is contributing as
much to the team as they need. One way to address
these two points is to connect regularly through any
video conferencing system which allows face to face
conversations and allows the telecommuter, manager
and team to connect. Another option to explore is
communicating through an instant messaging system
- ideally via a secure internal platform - which allows
for the possibility of constant communication.
Although perhaps a generalisation, Marissa Mayer’s
point that people are more collaborative and innova-
tive when they are in the same room together is a
good one. So it is good practice to schedule for tele-
commuters to be in the office at regular intervals to
refresh collaboration and innovation within the team.
This will also help show that a telecommuting em-
ployee is still very much part of the team and combin-
ing days in the office with regular video conference
contact can ensure that a telecommuter does not be-
come out of sight, out of mind.
Review –
As a manager, you should plan to frequently
review the structure of the telecommuting pro-
gramme from the outset. If the telecommuter is part
of a team, then be sure to collect the team’s views on
how successful the telecommuting programme has
been ahead of review meetings. The success of the
telecommuting programme may depend on the type
of person the telecommuter is; for example, an intro-
verted person, who likely prefers their own space and
draws energy predominately from within, might excel
within a telecommuting programme because it creates
an isolation of sorts. Extroverts tend to need a more
regular connection with others and may lose energy
when telecommuting. This is not to say that extroverts
cannot effectively telecommute but that, as a manager,
you may have to consider how you manage different
types of people – just as you would if they were in the
office. With extroverts, for example, you might have
an increased regularity of video conference conversa-
tions or more of a balance of days in the office to tele-
commuting days. Steps like this can give an extrovert
access to the benefits of telecommuting without it be-
coming detrimental to your organisation.
Frequently scheduling in review meetings will help to
manage the programme, but honesty as part of these
reviews is paramount. If it’s not working for the team,
the manager or the organisation, then the manager
needs to have the courage to communicate this to the
telecommuter with clear reasons and examples which
demonstrate why the telecommuting programme is
not working. The review time can then be use to ei-
ther renegotiate the terms of the telecommuting pro-
gramme, or, if necessary, remove it.
As a final thought, it is important to note that being
selective about who telecommutes is ok. It is certainly
not a benefit that should be automatically offered to
everyone; after all, if a manager doesn’t trust one of
his team to deliver within an office environment then
it is unlikely they will trust them to telecommute ef-
fectively. For this reason it is worth considering hav-
ing a policy in place which demonstrates that telecom-
muting is a privilege not a right and that any employ-
ee offered a telecommuting programme will be of-
fered it based on well-reasoned legitimate business
criteria.
Model 1
By Stephanie Small and Sinéad Ferron-Moody
Values Based Leadership
1,2,3,4 6,7
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