Motivating Employees Who Telecommute

Inspiring employees to contribute more with more flexibility and freedom rather than turning an office into a prison cell.

Some people aren’t cut out for a work life inside a cubical, and others can’t handle the freedom that comes with telecommuting or working remote.
The responsibility for making sure employees are productive is often left up to managers and supervisors. But how do you supervise an employee who is working from home or conducting business out of a coffee shop? As long a supervisor provides the proper tools and resources, stays in contact and demands accountability from the employee, the work-at-home arrangement can save the company money. And, the telework arrangement can inspire many employees to be more productive, independent and creative.

Requiring accountability while allowing flexibility

Employers who allow their employees to have a flexible work schedule will automatically motivate their employees to work harder and longer hours. Forcing a worker to choose between family and work will only cause resentment and passive-aggressive retaliation. For example, an employee who used to stay late may suddenly take sick days when it’s time for an unpopular job duty.
In order to ensure productivity, allow for flexibility but provide specific expectations. Clearly communicate goals. If possible, outline specific outcomes required. Attaching a number to something, whether it’s a time, number of contracts or dollar amount, will help an employee stay on track.
Create some structure by having regular weekly meetings either in person or via teleconference.

Adopting the best management style

Another way to motivate employees who telecommute is to encourage them to be independent. Some managers are tempted to micro-manage an employee’s every hour of the day. Don’t ask your employee to fill out tedious reports documenting what he or she did minute-by-minute. Be more interested in results. Having employees who can think of themselves and are self-directed will free up time for supervisors to work on other projects. It’s not productive to “baby-sit” employees at the office and even less helpful when dealing with telecommuters.
Be a supportive manager. Some remote workers want to be able to work in the office at times. Some companies have set up “hoteling,” which allows employees to reserve a desk space. They check in when they get to the office for team meetings.

Inspiring creativity in an employee

Employees who are stuck in a cubicle all day may get stuck in a creative rut. Work-at-home employees may be more inclined to take a mid-day hike outdoors. Instead of being worried that such non-work activities are distracting from the work day, realize it’s those breaks that inspire the best thinking and creativity.

Training new teleworkers

Many of the younger employees may be completely at ease with the idea of working out of a home office. They may have taken on-line classes. And, they are probably more comfortable with social networking and the latest technology.
With new teleworkers, go over some of the company’s basic business etiquette rules.
For employees that telework out of coffee shops or restaurants, make sure they aren’t discussing confidential matters in a public setting.
Don’t be afraid to have new employees shadow more experienced workers in the field. Many new employees need a mentor. Instead of having new employees follow someone around all day, pick a few key blocks of time for them to observe.

Although employees who are more independent tend to thrive better with the work-at-home or telework arrangement, any employee can adapt. It’s up to the manager or supervisor to establish the ground rules and offer support in this ever-evolving working world so everyone wins.
While most work-at-home employees set up their own home offices, make sure to provide all the necessary tools, technology and resources.
The philosophy in business now is to inspire employees to contribute more with more flexibility and freedom rather than turning an office into a prison cell and managers into wardens.


Opened by Antoine Fournier, Head of ECM, Input and Output management, Zurich Insurance
Feb 2, 2013.

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Rahul Patwardhan Senior Management Professional in Global IT Services Industry
May 24, 2013

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The starting point for any well defined role are a set of well defined unambigiously measurable role objectives, and a strong performance management system and consequence management for good/poor performance.

When these things are in place (unfortunately not so in many many organisations!) then half the battle of motivating employees is already won.

Beyond this, the extent to which flexibility makes sense, really depends on the maturity, experience and skills of the employees concerned, as also the nature of the work they are involved in.

The younger and less experienced an employee the more the need for contact, supervision and frequent touch points.

The more the work requires teamwork, the more there is a need for contact between team members.

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Antoine Fournier 67 Antoine Fournier Head of ECM, Input and Output management, Zurich Insurance

May 24, 2013

That's correct. Management cannot be only giving goals or forcing people working in a given mode. It has to be adapted to the employee, to their task, experience and personality. The main pitfall is then ambiguity.

Thank you for pointing this out.

Porter Wilcox Henry 01 Porter Wilcox Henry
Jul 14, 2018

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Teline Edsein Jan 9

I think we need employee portals to run any organization well. Employees should be able to get all benifits and resolve all the issues through these portals. WalmartOne

(asda.walmartone.com login ) is one such portal for employees established by Walmart.

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