In the nineties myself and others estimated that environmental factors could produce up to a 10% improvement in productivity. We knew that larger productivity gains were achievable through improved organisational factors (motivation, recognition, financial reward, management, training, job security etc.), see Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory. During my now 19 years of workplace consulting and implementing agile working, a recurring issue raised by the middle management is how to successfully manage remote workers. For many of us in the UK, once we become leaders in our chosen profession, we are “promoted” to managing a team of the same profession. Quite often this reassignment is made regardless of our aptitude for management and without any formal training, i.e. the Peter Principle.
It is therefore perfectly reasonable that managers say they lack the skills and tools to manage their remote workers (although sadly the reality is that some lack the tools to manage teams whether remote or not). It is also quite common to find that some staff are better suited to remote working than others. I have therefore teamed up with Network for Skills to offer training on remote working – both for managers of remote teams and remote workers. We have already trained 350 Legal Aid Agency managers and have developed a public course. We are also developing a system that rates the suitability of individuals for remote working based on their role, personality, manager and home working set-up etc.