Not a Member? Get access to HR news and resources that you can trust.
Change can be scary, but deploying new HR software doesn't have to be.
Is your employee handbook ready for the New Year? With SHRM’s Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Get the HR education you need without travel expenses or time out of the office.
Register by March 3 and save $425! Join us in Chicago, IL – April 24-26, 2017.
As signs of an economic turnaround remain elusive, business leaders are becoming more focused on increasing employee productivity, according to a report released January 2009 by The Conference Board.
With business operations growing increasingly global, maintaining dispersed employees and identifying key tools for optimizing their efficiency and engagement become all the more vital to business success. To make managing an employee at a site other than one’s own a mutually rewarding experience, several factors must be taken into consideration, according to the report titled Meeting the Challenges of a Dispersed Workforce: Managing Across Language, Culture, Time and Location.
“The issue of whether or not to allow employees to work at a distance is no longer a cost benefit issue—it is simply the reality of doing business,” said Linda Barrington, research director and labor economist, The Conference Board, in a statement accompanying the report release. “And effective management of dispersed employees is a key to success in that new reality.”
The Conference Board research working group on managing a distant workforce examined the issue of managing distant workers during meetings and through interviews, surveys and focus groups of relevant high-performing, dispersed work teams. The goal of the research working group was to identify effective ways to address the organizational, managerial and individual challenges of managing distance employees.
In addition to survey responses, the report includes case studies from MetLife, Qualcomm and Lincoln Financial.
Effective Manager-Employee Work Teams Are Key
Major findings of this study include:
Managers’ perceptions of the job they’re doing differs from that of distance employees; 53 percent of managers surveyed reported spending more than an hour a week developing working relationships with distance employees, whereas only 18 percent of employees believed that their managers spent that much time with them.
Five practices, however, were found to be shared among effective distance teams:
Study author Pete Linkow wrote: “Great distance managers must first and foremost be inclusive, empowering, supportive and trustworthy. Then they must master the fundamentals of management, like setting goals, evaluating, giving feedback and coaching. Finally, they must be superb at three competencies: cultivating relationships, focusing on outcomes and developing employees.”
Although managers and employees disagree about how much time is spent on developing relationships, they both agree that it is vital. Of managers and employees surveyed, about 90 percent and 70 percent, respectively, said the two most effective communication tools for building distance relationships were the telephone and face-to-face meetings.
In addition to identifying the challenges presented, the group identified key skills for managers and employees that can help maximize productivity and lead to effective manager-employee teams. At the heart of managing distance employees well is proper communication and employee engagement in order to create a productive work environment. Effective distance employees were identified as those who know how to execute, use technology and collaborate.
SHRM Online’s Staffing Management discipline home page
Sign up for SHRM’s free Staffing Management e-newsletter.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Your session has expired. Please log in again before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
CA Resources at Your Fingertips
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies