5 Insightful Tips for Supporting TRaD Managers
Just like the landscape has shifted for job seekers looking for flexible work, so too have the rules for managers working to support workplace flexibility.
Often, TRaD managers—those who oversee telecommuting, remote, and distributed teams—are wading into new territory for themselves and their companies.
Given that work flexibility is an increasingly viable and popular workplace phenomenon, TRaD managers may be heartened to know they have lots of company when it comes to the number of managers looking to put successful flexible work policies in place. The acronym TRaD was coined by Remote.co as an all-encompassing term to simplify definitions for telecommuting, remote, and distributed work teams.
Recently, Remote.co and our sister site, FlexJobs.com, hosted the TRaD Works Forum in Washington, D.C., a gathering of companies and experts looking to exchange ideas and discuss their experiences with flexible work. One of the TRaD Works panels, moderated by Jeanne Meister, a founding partner of Future Workplace, was titled “Supporting Managers to Be Effective Remote Team Leaders.” The panel focused on TRaD managers and the challenges they face in a transformative workforce.
Here are five tips for supporting TRaD managers based on suggestions from our TRaD panel of experts:
1. Establish trust.
A big piece of the equation that can help TRaD managers be successful is ensuring a level of trust between managers who oversee flexible and remote workers, and employees who seek the benefits of flexible work.
The trust issue goes both ways, said panelist Nicole McCabe, senior director of global diversity and inclusion at SAP. “If you’re a micro-manager and calling people [asking] ‘Where are you?’ or just testing [to see] ‘Are you really working from home?’ that’s not exuding” trusting behavior if you’re a supervisor. At the same time, workers need to build trust with managers by showing they’re managing their time efficiently and maintaining their output, panelists said.
2. Set up virtual “toolkits” for managers and team members.
Amy Freshman, senior director of global workplace enablement at ADP, said her company is setting up virtual learning opportunities as well as “toolkits” for both TRaD managers and employees.
“We want to make sure that we’re setting the right expectations and giving the right” learning opportunities to TRaD and associates working in virtual environments, Freshman said. ADP has also established internal communication mechanisms that help employees stay in contact with colleagues.
3. Try ‘remote’ trial runs.
If diving in head-first isn’t a viable option, a step-by-step approach to offering remote options might be more feasible, panelists said. ”Sometimes people don’t actually know what they want or what they’re good at,” said panelist John O’Duinn, a workplace expert and author of Distributed, a book that focuses on leading distributed teams.
O’Duinn offered great guidelines for setting up trial runs for team members interested in working remotely. “Get people to try working from home one day a week—specifically it cannot be on a Monday or a Friday, because no one will ever believe that you’re actually working,” and that employees are just taking three-day weekends instead. Alternatively, O’Duinn suggested having new remote workers try working virtually on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays, and expanding from there as warranted.
4. Evaluate on a case-by-case basis.
For both employers and team members, the definition of work flexibility can be subjective. “The reality is everyone wants to have that flexibility depending on what’s going on in their life—and it changes” depending on what’s going on in your employee’s life, McCabe said.
The bottom line for many employees? It’s all about having choices, Meister said. “The heart of it is employee choice, irrespective of gender, of age, of culture,” she said at the TRaD works panel. For employees, “it’s that ‘I want to have that bit of choice over my life.’”
5. Millennials and parents are just part of the bigger work flexibility picture.
Millennials have grabbed the spotlight in some respects. But the fact is that the flexibility millennials often demand is no different from the flexible work options that all workers want and appreciate, panelists said. Case in point: like female workers, “men want the flexibility of being able to leave and go to a kid’s event or helping to take care of the kids,” McCabe said. “It’s not just for the women.”
Freshman agreed with this assessment, and took it a step further. “There’s so much focus on the parents and the aging,” she said at the forum. “What about the individual who is just an individual? The person who’s not married, no kids?”
That said, millennials have added their voice to the conversation for the better, O’Duinn noted. “Millennials are asking the questions that a lot of us have been brainwashed into not asking,” O’Duinn observed.
Readers, if you’re interested in finding out more about supporting TRaD managers, and about managing telecommuting, remote, and distributed teams, contact us at TRaD works for the latest news and events.
By Adrianne Bibby | September 30, 2016 | Categories: Remote Management