Qualities of a good teleworker

* Traits to look for in determining if staffers will succeed at remote work

Last week remote management expert Merrily Orsini said that when it comes to successful remote employees everything boils down to results. If you’re clear about what you expect and when you expect it from your teleworking staff, you’re likely to have a smooth, clear management relationship with the employee.

However, many of us are stuck in determining who would make a good remote employee. Skills that benefit a person in an office setting may not translate to a home office and vice versa.

Orsini says good candidates for telecommuting need to understand their capabilities and should have the following:

* The ability to work alone.

* Responsiveness and good communication skills.

* The ability to adhere to timelines.

* The ability to take constructive criticism and not get defensive.

“You really have to start with the right person first,” she says. “Make certain they’re responsive, and you’re clear about the time in which they respond. If they don’t adhere to the timelines, if they have excuses about why they didn’t do things, they’re not going to be able to work alone or remote.”

As she stated last week, a lot of the groundwork for a good telework relationship is advance planning and trials. Define a set of agreed-upon results and deadlines with the prospective remote employee. Also establish a trial period for the remote work, evaluate the trial, then repeat the trial again.

Orsini also suggests managers compare and track the person’s progress so you know exactly how they are - or aren’t - meeting the points of the deal. While it’s tempting to let the paperwork/tracking angle slide, it’s critical you continue in case a problem crops up and the employee is deemed no longer suitable for telework.

Orsini says many people thrive in the telework setting, finding the absence of office distractions allows them a greater focus. She cites one AT&T study that says some employees are 30% more productive when they work remote than in an office.

However, if the person is not getting the job done, that’s moot.

“It all boils down to results,” she says. “You will know if someone paid attention to whatever they were supposed to pay attention to. Someone who has a poor work ethic in a traditional sense will not have a good work ethic if they work at home. But people with good work ethics will be able to go home and work remotely, and do it well.”

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