The guide to telework management

Arnaud Weiss
25 February 2021

The abrupt shift to telework was initially experienced by organizations as a temporary period of crisis, during which they had to grit their teeth without changing anything. Little by little, French companies understood that there can be and will be no turning back. Some are reducing the size of their premises, others are signing agreements to perpetuate teleworking...  

The most critical change for tricolour companies is not logistical or legal. It is cultural. The French managerial philosophy " latine ", which relies heavily on informality and spontaneity, does not work in isolation. Teleworking has very little tolerance for improvisation.

Telework, a new way of organising work

More than just a logistical detail, distance is above all a new way of organising work. The weight of this transition rests essentially on managers. It is they who are at the front line in orchestrating this new way of working and supporting employees. The difficulties they face are many and varied:

- The flow of information no longer occurs naturally within the team. In person, employees spontaneously share information with each other and with their manager, who must have a 360° vision. This is no longer the case in teleworking, team communication must be restructured.

- The vertical management mode, " command and control ", to use Anglo-Saxon terminology, already undermined by the aspirations of the new generations, becomes materially impossible. The manager is no longer able to control working time, to get behind the screens! We have to move from a logic of means to a culture of results, based on trust. In this respect, developing the autonomy of employees becomes essential.

- Theisolation linked to teleworking, the disappearance of social ties, amplifies the psycho-social risks. It is even more necessary for the manager to set up special exchange times with each employee and to learn to listen to them.

Managers' levers for a successful transition to teleworking

It is difficult to develop managers' soft skills in a short period of time. Without neglecting training, concrete levers exist to address the above-mentioned issues. They are based on managerial routines inspired by agile methodologies. Their objective is to circulate information, develop the autonomy of employees, and encourage a listening posture on the part of the manager. 3 examples of how to manage teams from a distance:

- The best known of these is the Monday team meeting, which allows the team to align and highlight collective or individual successes. Each collaborator is invited to speak for 5 to 10 minutes to share their successes of the past week and outline their priorities for the coming week. We see here the paradigm shift: the manager is not in a vertical logic to distribute the tasks, but asks everyone to identify their priorities.

- The next step is the individual interview, or "one to one". For 30 minutes every fortnight, the manager talks to each employee about non-operational issues. "How have you been feeling these last few weeks? How do you see your workload? What can I do to help you?" To get the most out of these exchanges, research suggests that the manager spends 80% of the time listening and 20% talking.

- One last example: the daily stand-up, literally standing appointment in French. Very short, it allows the manager to give a dynamic for the day. Everyone is invited to briefly state what they accomplished the day before and what they intend to do the same day, in addition to the blocking points they encountered. Some managers ask everyone to activate their camera for a more user-friendly experience - and to mark the beginning of the working day.

A great opportunity to change the managerial culture

Crises can be turned into opportunities. This one is no exception to the rule. The companies that will do well are those that will seize the opportunity to develop their managers and, by extension, their teams. The health crisis must be an opportunity to accelerate the transition to a management style based on trust, autonomy and listening.

Ready to apply these levers?

Thanks to this article, you now have several cards in your hand to manage your remote teams.

If you lack the time or inspiration to implement these practices, Axel's team has developed a remote management module to facilitate the implementation of team routines (1-to-1, daily stand-up, team meeting...).