Employers and work-life balance

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Work-life balance – Performance Management Survey

Q1 ‘It will be difficult to manage the performance of people who are not in the work place at the same time as me’ is a common management perception – is it true or false?

A False. In fact it can be easier to manage the performance of people who are not in the office at the same time as their manager – managers often find that one to one meetings and appraisals become more constructive as they and their reports work together to devise performance management measures and objectives that concentrate on outputs rather than attendance or time-keeping issues. Managers get a better understanding of what their staff can really contribute and staff feel they are appreciated for their actual rather than perceived achievements.

Q2 Which of the following would be good examples of performance measures for remote workers?

A All of the options and many others can be used to measure the performance of remote workers – the important aspect is that the measures should be transparent,. reasonable, in line with other workers doing similar tasks and agreed between the individual and the manager.

Q3 ‘It will be impossible to generate any team spirit among staff who are working different patterns or in different locations’ – another common perception – is it true or false?

A A. Once again this tends to be a misconception. Where teams work at different locations or at different times, they tend to make an extra effort to set up and attend regular meetings, and those meetings can often be more constructive and focused than those held by teams who spend all their time together, and can sometimes let meetings degenerate into ‘whinge’ sessions. Sales teams are a typical and long-standing example of remote teams who find a way to work together constructively and, as our employee surveys show, often build strong support networks and a very positive team spirit.

Q4 Is it possible to allow staff to work from home and still keep a check on what they are doing?

A A. Yes, it is possible, both by measuring outputs, as we have already mentioned, but also by monitoring use of computers from home or remotely; by setting regular ‘core hours’ where staff are required to be in contact with the office; by requiring regular attendance at meetings and so on. Managers and their staff should agree the standards that need to be maintained and the steps that will be taken to monitor them.

Q5 How can I support line managers who are having to manage staff working remotely or on different work patterns to themselves?

By setting up training courses
By giving them guidance on where to look for help and support
By setting up support groups of managers
They will not need any support

A The first three statements are all true, but the last statement is unlikely to be – most line managers who have not had previous experience of managing remote workers will benefit from some help and guidance about the issues involved and how to handle them.

Q6 It will be difficult to manage staff who are working remotely and still maintain a reward system that is viewed as fair by staff – true or false?

A Sadly this is likely to be true, but it should be no more difficult for remote workers than for any other group providing the performance measures are transparent and are adhered to. Very few reward systems, in our experience, are viewed as fair by the staff they cover, but this is no more of an issue for remote workers than for any other group.


© Work-Life balance part of The Work Foundation 2005