Absence Makes the Team Uneasy; Survey Undermines Traditional Thinking About Teleworking

By Rita Zeidner Mar 25, 2008

Popular wisdom has it that when the boss is away, the workers will play. Either that, or they’ll get some real work done.

But contrary to that popular belief, employees don’t relish time away from their bosses, according to new survey results.

Nearly half of just under 500 workers polled by the staffing firm OfficeTeam said their jobs would be more difficult if they did not work in the same office as their supervisors. Of this group, about a quarter felt it would be much more difficult.

Similarly, nearly 60 percent of 150 senior executives surveyed said it is important that all staff members work in the same location.

Employees were asked, In your opinion, would it make your job easier or more difficult if you reported to a manager who didn’t work in the same locationas you?About a quarter of respondents said working away from their boss would make their job “much more difficult.” Only 8 percent said their job would be “much easier.”

Executives, however, were less emphatic. Asked: How important is it for all of the members of your department to work from the same location? only 13 percent said “very important.”

“Technological advances and global expansion have made it more common and acceptable for people to work remotely,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “In some instances, it’s hard to avoid.”

Willmer noted this presents some communication challenges. “Those who work outside the office must go the extra mile to make sure they keep the lines of communication open,” he said.

Best practices for helping professionals who work remotely stay connected with their colleagues and managers include:

  • Providing frequent status reports and highlighting accomplishments
  • Maintain contact via telephone, as well as e-mail.
  • Urge remote workers to highlight their accomplishments frequently.
  • Arrange meetings to meet face to face.

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