One of the key topics that we’ll be discussing at our Net:Work conference is how to manage workers remotely. As the workforce becomes much more mobile and distributed, with people working on projects on an ad-hoc basis, it’s a problem that more businesses will need to tackle, with many tricky issues to resolve. When managers are no longer dealing with their staff face-to-face on a daily basis, the nuances of in-person communication are lost. Then there’s the trust issue: how do managers they know that their staff are working? If people who haven’t worked together before are being brought together to work on projects in ad-hoc “work swarms,” how do managers get their teams to gel together? And how do companies ensure their employees’ needs are being met and that they’re happy? These issues can partly be resolved by the use of technology, but they’ll also likely require a shift in management style, and even a change in the way that some companies are organized.
I’ll be discussing this topic in depth at Net:Work with Gary Swart (CEO of oDesk) and Maynard Webb (chairman and CEO of LiveOps) in a panel called Managing Remote Workers: What We Still Need to Get Done; I’m really looking forward to hearing their expert insights. But as many of our readers either work remotely or manage remote teams, I wanted to get your opinions and ideas, too: How can we make the managing of remote workers more effective?