The world of the web worker is fundamentally a fabric of digital relationships that opens opportunities to work across previously insurmountable cultural, economic and geographic constraints. However, teleworking, remote working and web working introduce their own complexities, notably in how to motivate, manage and (yes) manipulate remote teams towards shared goals.
Last month Celine wrote a very useful piece on Avoiding Conflicts Within A Teleworking Team, collating a bunch of tips on accountability, expectations, training, praise and criticism. The first generation of web worker tools and services has largely been oriented around communication and operations, but a new generation of services are beginning to emerge that may help streamline some of the human dimension in web working.
Almost directly addressing Celine’s advice on ‘giving praise and criticism privately’ is Rypple, a recently launched service that seeks to help managers displace the annual HR review with web-based, peer-driven performance reviews. Coworkers can provide each other feedback on how they’re performing by encouraging users to post a question about their work and selecting colleagues to send the question to – a variation on ‘360-degree’ feedback used in larger firms. Crucially, feedback can also be given anonymously and privately and questions can be categorized to track performance in key areas – kinda like a personal focus group!
Of course, any review process is open to gaming – choosing colleagues whom you know will provide ‘friendly’ feedback, for example. It’s important to understand that any software solution is simply an augmentation of the culture created amongst colleagues and no replacement for good people skills. Services like Rypple simply help to codify those skills and record their application to real scenarios.
I’m almost afraid to utilize Rypple for fear of what clients and collaborators may reveal to me! However, it seems like an undoubtedly valuable mechanism for managing the human dimension of remote working.