Telecommuting Management Isn’t Hard

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Oct 25

From the amount of print out there, you would think that telecommuting would be the be all and end all for productivity on the planet. And you’d think that telecommuting will do more to hurt your career than anything on the planet.

Most of these articles focus on what a person who telecommutes needs to do to effectively manage their career, the latest from MSNBC and “How telecommuters can ease career congestion.” Usually, the articles talk about the need for all sorts of tips and tricks to make sure management knows what you are doing because “you can’t be there.”

But, really, how different is telecommuting from having a remote manager? Not much different at all, I’d contend.

How many of you are remotely managed with managers outside of your city right now? I am. Have been for the last five years.

How different is that from a manager managing you working from home in the same city where you work? There is a difference — telecommuters can usually go into the office and meet face to face with their manager as needed whereas a remote manager in a different city needs to have one of you travel to see each other face to face.

In my view, telecommuting and remote employees share a common set of characteristics around managing the manager:

  • Deliver what you say you will deliver. Being remote doesn’t mean you can claim ignorance of due dates. If you say you will provide something by a certain time, do so. You’ll do better then most of your coworkers co-located with your manager.
  • Communicate more. On site employees have an advantage of hallway conversations and dropping by an open door office. Remote/telecommuting employees don’t. Make sure you check in with your manager once a day or send a note at the end of the day about what you have accomplished. It’s important that the communication is directed at your accomplishments and questions and not just “how are you?”. Making sure your work is primary in your manager’s mind is important.
  • Regularly try and travel for face-to-face meetings. Once a quarter or whatever makes sense is good. Face-to-face communications is still important, but don’t think everything can be accomplished on site. On site should be a supplement to your remote work.
  • Contribute in meetings. Privately insist on good meeting management that recognizes that there are remote people on the phone. It’s very easy for remote employees on conference calls to be forgotten.

Telecommuting can be great to do in the right environment and being a remote employee should not put you off. Simply manage the process and deliver great work. And, quite often, help your manager manage you…