Managing Home-Based Team Members

Working With Remote Staff

Homeworking: It's all about delivery.

© iStockphoto

Home-based working is hardly new – book editors and graphic designers have worked from home offices for a long time, for example.

But modern technology has changed everything. And with broadband Internet access and tools like Skype and email, many remaining technical barriers to doing "knowledge work" at home have disappeared.

There are certainly many arguments in favor of working at home. It can make it easier for people to concentrate, free of the distractions and interruptions of a busy office environment. It can increase worker retention, particularly among those who need to care for relatives (like children or aging parents). Eliminating the daily commute is environmentally responsible – not to mention less expensive, considering the price of gas! And an ever-increasing proportion of the workforce rank work/life balance high on their list of criteria for choosing an employer.

Then, of course, it opens the possibility for your business to work with the best people in the world, wherever in the world they are (and not just in a one hour travelling-time radius).

What's more, it opens up the opportunity of running a completely different type of business that's been talked about for a long time: where self-employed "free agents" work together to deliver specific projects flexibly, adaptably, and on-demand.

But how do managers make this happen? Are you uncomfortable with managing people you don't see every day? Is it hard for you to trust people to work if you're not there to supervise it? How can you determine whether someone is likely to work successfully at home? How can you create team spirit if people work in different locations? And how do communications differ from those with your office-based team members?

We'll look at the specific challenges of managing a home-based workforce, and we'll offer some practical advice for ensuring high team performance – wherever the members of your team are based.

Make Initial Preparations

With any kind of management, the foundation of successful management home-based workers is...

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