Managing a Remote Working Culture: Why Should You Care?

Working from home (StockSnap)

While there has been plenty of attention on business centers and coworking spaces in terms of design, aesthetics, amenities, and so forth, far less attention has been spent on the challenge of managing remote workers.

As more corporations continue to loosen the geographic hold on their employees and allow them to work remotely, they will need to find ways of adjusting traditional management styles to optimize their teams’ productivity and wellbeing.

And, sooner, rather than later! According to a recent study by Forrester, it is predicted that, by 2016, a whopping 43% of the U.S. workforce will be working remotely.

A recent article written by Karim Hijazi for Forbes offers up some practical suggestions. Hijazi has already built one successful startup, Unveillance, and he’s already on his second one, Tagspire. And in both cases, his teams have been spread across the world. He has put together some practical suggestions for employers who want to set up their remote teams for success.

By the way, understanding the management side of remote working benefits coworking space operators as well, allowing them to be more responsive to the needs of both their tenants and those they are working for.

Here are Hijazi’s tips:

Casual, off-topic, online conversations: Hijazi calls it ‘bringing the water cooler conversations online’. More specifically, he recommends identifying a messaging channel — he uses Slack — and drop in videos, funny posts, and other articles for employees to read during breaks and off hours.

Game play: Since almost everyone in today’s coworking demographic likes video games, or some sort of games, Hijazi urges management to start a casual program of off-hours gaming sessions. Teams can be created to encourage some friendly cross rivalry. It connects the team in a casual way that encourages stronger bonding and communication.

Toss ‘micro-management’ styles out the window: The bottom line is that you cannot effectively manage remote workers by micro-managing them. A level of trust and confidence needs to be established and workers need to be given the freedom of arranging their own schedules to suit their lifestyles. Hijazi asks, “If you do not trust them to do great work at their own pace, why did you hire them in the first place?” Good question.

Old fashioned ‘face time’: Even Hijazi admits that it makes sense, every so often, to invest in on-site meetings with the team. Taking the time to schedule a trip to meet with your people is the ultimate demonstration of your investment in them, both as employees and as people. As Hijazi notes, “In the end, nothing truly replaces the firsthand social experience of meeting up in person.” We agree.

Regardless of whether remote managers take heed of these tips, there is no denying that remote working could eventually become the new officing norm. A study conducted by Kotter International and Harvard Business School professor, James Heskett, served up some amazing results. Apparently, companies with what they termed ‘performance-enhancing cultures’ experienced revenue growth of 682%, while those which did not grew only 166%.

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So creating a positive work ‘culture’ for remote employees is becoming mission critical, not only to attract and retain top talent, but also to grow the company; or so the statistics would indicate. And, learning not only to manage, but manage effectively may just be the magic bullet that separates the successful companies from the ones that get left in the dust.

As Karim Hijazi concludes, “At the end of the day, there is no magical formula to crack the culture code in remote work. It is instrumental to pay attention to staff’s lifestyle choices, get to know their hobbies and come up with unique practices that will effectively build a culture that your staff will embrace.”

What do you think? What role do business center and coworking space owners and operators play in helping foster new management styles that complement remote workers? We’d like to hear from you.

Image source: StockSnap