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Biggest mistakes managers make managing remote workers

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The modern working world has expanded way beyond the four walls of the office, thanks to remote working.

With few claiming that the practice negatively impacts upon productivity, it’s clear that today’s professional landscape is being re-designed thanks to the flexibility afforded by technology.

In the UK alone 54 per cent of the nation’s office workers are now able to work remotely, 30 per cent of whom feel it enhances productivity.

However, working remotely is not a silver bullet to business efficiency, as demonstrated by Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO who clamped down on working from home because it undermined the collaboration and innovation that are created in the office environment.

Many benefits come through individuals and teams being able to work remotely; the office makes savings and can enjoy a far broader talent pool because work is not restricted to a one location. However, unless implemented with care, this potentially highly effective and fashionable work method can backfire.

Read on to find out the most common mistakes leaders make when managing remote teams:

The wrong individuals are chosen

Offering the ability to remote-work can attract many workers, but if that’s the reason a person seeks out employment with your business, then they’re probably not for you.

Some industry leaders advise to keep a lid on the possibility of remote working until new hires have been taken on. If prospective staff keep bringing up flexible working in an interview, then it should be taken as a deal-breaker, as it implies that the individual’s needs will take priority over those of the working team.

Don’t jump on the bandwagon

Remote working has taken some high-profile hits through the decisions of some big companies, but managers shouldn’t take that as a reason to shun the practice all together.

Flexibility in working regimes can secure some fantastic talent, so managers should always put their company and teams at the front of the picture when deciding what benefits remote working could bring.

Not knowing your workers

Often, managers can lose sight of how employees work, and even more so of how teams work. Usually, heads of staff just need to see employees in the office and sitting at their desks to believe that they are doing their job, but this affords no insight into processes and productivity.

Managers need to consider how work is accomplished on an individual and team basis and how collaboration is effected before coming to a conclusion about the efficacy of remote working for the parties involved.

Similarly, if managers do not make an effort to actually get to know their staff as individuals, then they are unlikely to be able to gauge how much suitability a person has for remote working.

Workers and teams that are pro-active and self-disciplined are far more likely to thrive if given more flexibility.

Don’t over-analyse

Some managers make the mistake of using metrics to follow progress. Research by Gallup has found that remote working less than one fifth of the time is good for engagement, whereas only remote working can lead to “active disengagement”, and a negative attitude that can creep into the workforce at large.

Arrangements need to be put in place so that remote working is monitored and calibrated with deadlines and targets, as such the emphasis remains on productivity.

Out of sight out of mind

If you become accustomed to not seeing a worker in work, they become easily forgotten beyond the occasional email contact.

To combat this, managers should get in touch with remote workers to preserve the conversational social interaction that would get shown in the office. Enquire about how work is going, bring up issues of concern, or simply let employees and teams know that their work is being appreciated.

Not forgetting about your remote working teams is also essential when it comes to office social occasions, such as birthdays or awards ceremonies.


Ultimately, there will be many warning signs indicating that remote working is not going as planned. At every stage, communication is key, and all channels should be kept open and functioning so that detached parties feel as close as is possible to the operational hub.




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Tags: Business, Workforce Transformation