Working remotely is IN, and there seems to be no reversal of the trend in sight. According to research conducted by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, about 50% of the US workforce is employed in a job that is compatible with at least partial telework. Of this 50%, about 20%-25% regularly work remotely.
More pertinently, a further 80%-90% express the desire to work remotely at least part time—throwing further light on a trend that looks to gain even more momentum in the future.
For employees, the idea of working remotely sounds exciting; something to look forward to. But what if you are an employer? Or better yet, what if you are a leader in charge of coordinating the workforce? Is it possible to effectively coordinate people towards activities that serve the goals of the business while they are spread across a large geographic area?
The Job Hasn’t Changed
The good news is, the qualities that make for good leadership have not changed one bit, nor are they likely to ever change. You still need to be an excellent communicator, capable of bring many people onto the same page so that every one is unanimous on what ‘success’ looks like and what the goals are. You still need to be able to instill the belief into people that they are contributing to the growth of something bigger than themselves.
You still need to be trustworthy enough to lead by example, never choosing to delegate to someone work which you are unwilling to do yourself. You still need to be able to inspire people to give their all in their work, not because their paychecks are on the line but because they want to.
The Tools Have Changed However
Yes, the tools have changed. For example, you need to be willing to accept and adapt to the need for less face-to-face interactions and more digital resources which are now available. You need to adapt to the idea that collaborations on projects no longer require sitting in the same room and hammering out points or ideas. Cloud based solutions exist that give everyone editing access to the same files at the same time.
Needless to say, you need to change your perspective, and even though this will be difficult at the start it will be well-worth the effort. The average telecommuter tends to be much happier with their jobs than people who are forced to come to the office every day, and this in turn factors into productivity and quality of work. 73% of telecommuters say they are more satisfied with their company because of it than they have ever been before. The majority of this people work more than 40 hours a week, and they tend to work harder to create a friendly, cooperative, and positive work environment—which is the same thing you’re trying to create as a leader.
Ultimately, the extent to which you are able to alter your beliefs and expectations about the modern telecommuting workforce will go a long way towards deciding how effective you will be as a leader now and in the future.