Remote working - do bosses trust their workers?

By Gill South

The majority of Kiwi managers are now supervising remote workers and the managers are in turn are being supervised by a remote manager. Photo / Thinkstock
The majority of Kiwi managers are now supervising remote workers and the managers are in turn are being supervised by a remote manager. Photo / Thinkstock

While business leaders and their staff are working remotely from the office in increasingly greater numbers, nearly half of New Zealand's business leaders still say that trust is an issue.

"The rise of remote working is looking stronger than ever - and it's only going to continue to grow. The most significant issues seem to be trust and freedom but once businesses and employees can look past that, they are going to reap the benefits of greater productivity, less operating costs and better staff retention," said John Henderson, the Asia-Pacific director of global service office provider, Regus.

The Regus 2013 Regus Global Economic Indicator showed that those professionals who are tied to the office desk five days a week will soon be the minority. Around 40 per cent of New Zealand business leaders are now working remotely for half the week or more, it said.

The majority of Kiwi managers are now supervising remote workers and the managers are in turn are being supervised by a remote manager.

There seems little concern about the motivation and management of remote workers by New Zealand businesses. Just under half (46 per cent) of NZ respondents reported that effective management of remote workers is perfectly achievable if managers undergo special training. Growing numbers of managers and employees are using video communication to stay in touch.

"Two- fifths (40 per cent) of New Zealand professionals work away from the office for half the week or more and though we have a little way to go to catch up to the US (47 per cent) and the UK (42 per cent), the research shows that in this digital age, workers are ditching the desk and the days of the traditional Monday to Friday, nine am to five pm office are numbered," said Henderson.

The research also found that while nearly 80 per cent believed that junior employees will develop less rapidly if they are managed remotely, 40 per cent said that it helped them to become more responsible.

In the United States, health insurer Aetna, a company which has 14,500 out of 35,000 employees, 14,500 without a desk, is running training courses so that remote workers and their managers can be brought up to speed on effective flexible working methods.

In New Zealand, 40 per cent of companies have a specific reporting system for managers to monitor efficiency in teams that work remotely at least some of the time.

"Technology is one of the main drivers for remote management for companies big and small," said Henderson. With cloud services, video conferencing and various devices becoming more easily accessible and often at low costs, businesses of any size can effectively manage remote working, he said.

In New Zealand, Regus supports many companies with flexible workplaces such as co-working spaces and drop in business lounges.

"From start-ups and SMEs to larger corporates, New Zealanders have many advantages to look forward to with the rise of the remote workforce," said Henderson.

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