Managing Remote Workers is Different — Not!


Get Shift Done: Management


Consider this: by 2020, half of all people may be working remotely, a dramatic shift that will affect both NewCos and BigCos alike.

While employees everywhere may cheer, this statistic is likely less appealing to managers who worry that they’ll need to learn a whole new set of skills.

To them, I bring this message from the Harvard Business Review:

One of the biggest misconceptions about managing remote workers is that it requires an entirely different skillset.

That’s right — the skills you use to manage workers in the office today are just as relevant in the remote workplace of the future. While the tools may differ, the principals will remain the same:

  • You’ll need to set expectations, both in terms of results as well as parameters for communication, attendance, and decorum.
  • Visiting a remote worker at their location will help you gain an understanding of their work environment as well as any challenges.
  • Communication should be encouraged to keep both manager and remote workers engaged and up to date.
  • While you won’t run into remote workers in the hallway, it’s still possible to spark impromptu interactions via instant messaging or tools like Skype or Slack to identify and solve problems. And picking up the phone (or hopping on a video call) from time to time is a good idea as well.
  • Get to know your workers by nurturing familiarity so they feel comfortable approaching you and you learn what makes them tick, both of which “builds essential empathy, trust, and camaraderie.”
  • Share organization goals and objectives to make remote workers feel as part of the team as those who work on-site.

Yes, the remote workplace has arrived, but it does not signal the obsolescence of current managerial skills. As the old saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

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