Australian advice for virtual teams prompted by the US book ‘Remote’

Australian advice prompted by the US book 'Remote' - Remote: Office Not RequiredHave you ever asked the question “If I can’t see my staff, how do I know they are working?” The authors of ‘Remote: Office Not Required’ answer that question.


Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are successful IT professionals with a healthy sense of good management. While some of the ideas are unlikely to suit everyone, most of the tips are excellent food for thought.


Nothing is more important to the longevity of your organisation than its capacity to achieve results. So the question of whether your people are performing is paramount.


Consider this: how do you know your staff members are working now? Your manager may turn up to a 3pm meeting, but did you step into their office that morning to check on their progress?


Fried & Hansson (Remote, 2013) point out that people are perfectly capable of being unproductive while in full view of their colleagues and manager. So more often than not, progress is actually checked by the delivery of outcomes over time. You will have that same opportunity with virtual teams.


Concerns about performance are sometimes warranted. When it comes to managing underperformance it can be difficult to ‘pin down’ the problem. Managers often use subjective measures to understand whether performance is good – “they seemed confident they had it in hand”, or “I haven’t heard anyone complaining about the work being behind schedule”.


These subjective measures are important for many reasons, but used in isolation they don’t serve you well in the case of remote work. Objective measures will serve you better: a copy of the work, a weekly report against outcomes. Focus on the outcomes of the work and performance becomes easy to monitor.


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