Flexible working but training for remote managers lacking

As the demand for flexible working continues to increase across the globe, it is important for managers to get with the times and ensure they are maximising the potential productivity of both remote teams and fixed office employees.

The latest research by Regus, canvassing the opinions of over 44,000 senior managers and business owners from more than 100 countries, has found that four fifths of firms are shifting their focus to measuring employee outputs with results-based assessments, rather than focusing exclusively on time spent in the office. This signals that remote working is becoming more and more customary and that firms have no interest in rewarding unproductive presenteeism.

Clueless remote managers, who still measure their workers on time spent in the office are fast becoming outnumbered as this new approach takes over. Also, while measuring output is clearly a much more suitable method of gauging remote worker performance, it is also a way for remotely based managers to effectively measure their team’s productivity wherever they are.

The Regus research also revealed that 76 per cent of business people globally believe that senior management can actually become more productive if they are able to work flexibly, whilst 63 per cent manage a remote worker at least part of the time. 61 per cent of firms also use flexible working as a way of attracting and retaining staff – highlighting the important role that flexible working has in boosting productivity and motivating or rewarding talented staff.

In Singapore, where 560 business professionals were surveyed, 68 per cent of them said that robust flexible working schemes are used as an incentive to attract the best in the industry. With the benefits increasingly becoming clear to both parties, it is no surprise that 56 per cent of respondents revealed that companies like theirs are looking to increase the amount of remote workers.

In spite of this, it is alarming that less than half of firms, 43 per cent, are putting special training in place for the management of a remote workforce. With more Singaporean businesses embracing flexible working, implementing successful remote management processes is essential to ensuring top workers are recognised, nurtured and developed. Excelling in remote management, not surprisingly, plays an integral part in fostering employee relations, motivation and loyalty. Yet, too few firms are putting a strategy in place to help managers make their remote workers truly shine. Special training for remote management should be high on the agenda or the risk is that performance may suffer.

These findings emphasise the need for remote management training investment to ensure that the transition from fixed to mobile workforce becomes a smooth one. With the amount of modern technology at our fingertips, a professional and properly equipped remote work location should be seen as an extension of the workplace, not a career or productivity-killer.

However, the full benefits of flexible working are unlikely to be reached, if the locations offered in alternative to the main office are not conducive to productivity and are ill-equipped, noisy or distracting for example. With 100 billion[1] business-related emails sent each day and Wi-Fi widely available across Singapore, workers can remain connected all the time. However, stopover locations such as cafes and trains are hardly conducive for performing core business tasks. In order to carry out core work tasks for up to the equivalent of half a day’s work, a quarter of respondents require a business lounge, which provides a calmer, peaceful environment for productive activities.

Additionally, employers should not assume that their remote staff would like to work from home. Most do not want to encroach on their home life, and workers are far more productive when working from a professional environment, alongside like-minded business people. Being in the same environment as other professionals also helps eliminate any potential feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Given the significant surge in flexible working, it is positive news that more and more Singaporean firms are adapting their performance analysis to measuring real outputs regardless of location. A major caveat for manager’s remains, however: firms need to invest in remote management training to get the best out of their workforce.

[1] The Radicati Group

- Paul MacAndrew, Country Manager of Regus Singapore -

Paul has been the Regus Country Manager for Singapore since 2012. This role has overall responsibility for the day to day performance of the business. In addition Paul is responsible for the growth of the business; Regus Singapore has grown from 3 locations in 2009 to 25 locations as of today with further growth planned. Paul started his Regus journey as Area Sales Manager in Sydney, Australia, and has taken on progressively senior roles across the Asia Pacific region to reach his current position.