Good managers need to help their home-based staff to feel that they are part of the team and that they are not regarded as skivers, according to BT Business.
Although many companies now offer more flexible work patterns, poorly trained management can leave people feeling “out of the loop” and overlooked for promotion.
To help businesses, BT Business has launched a new “how to” guide, the Remote Manager’s Toolkit, designed to help close the gap in skills identified in new BT research showing that 88 per cent of managers have never received training on how to manage remote workers and are not familiar with their IT requirements.
Nearly three quarters of businesses currently offer their staff the opportunity of remote and mobile working, but this is set to increase in just eight months time, with an extra 4.5million staff in the UK gaining the right to request flexible working under plans released in May by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
The lack of management expertise risks promoting feelings of isolation amongst remote workers and encouraging the culture of “presenteeism”, the long-hours culture, where staff feel that coming in early, staying late and battling on when they are ill is expected.
Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of employees are concerned that colleagues will accuse them of skiving if they work from home. Another worry felt by almost half (47 per cent) of workers is missing out on the camaraderie, gossip and banter of the office, even though most feel they are more effective when they are working from home. And one in five (22 per cent) say they lack the IT support to work from home effectively.
Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Business, said: “Work is no longer a place you go, but something you do. Information and communications technology has provided the means for millions of people to work remotely yet many businesses are hampered by outdated management techniques. We’ve seen huge benefits from remote working for many years internally at BT, which is why we have created this definitive toolkit aimed at equipping managers to help their workers truly take their office anywhere.”
The popularity of homeworking has been on the rise in the past few years due to increasing costs and time associated with commuting, lower and better communication facilities as well as increased eco-awareness.