5 Essentials to Successfully Manage a Telecommuting Workforce

Fourteen years ago we started our firm based on a distributed workforce. At the time, there was a huge stigma around organizations that allowed employees to telecommute or work primarily from home with the implication being that the company was not a “real company” or it was simply smoke and mirrors.  Oh, how times have changed. Attitudes have shifted, empowering this highly evolving work model, due to mobile technology, better communication tools and a society that is ever focused on flexibility and quality of work/life balance.

At the time, we created our workforce model partly out of necessity and partly out of the idea of being a forward thinking and future driven organization that was able to buck the norm and deliver amazing solutions. Eventually we opened, staffed and to this day still maintain a traditional headquarters, but our core philosophy and model is still powered by our distributed teams.  We believe we can attract and retain the best employees wherever they are and build a stronger company because of it. Simply confining one’s candidate pool to a geographic location is drastically self-limiting and short sighted. Why not seek out the most talented and qualified individuals wherever they may be?

With that in mind, we’ve identified five key essentials that are absolutely vital in making this model a success.


1. Instant Messaging - Collaboration is key and with a solid IM program you can connect and communicate quickly and effectively with co-workers. There are many options to choose from with varying features. Don’t overthink it, just implement a solution and begin communicating.

2. Virtual Phone System - With a distributed team it’s difficult to maintain a traditional phone system but with low cost technology solutions you can create a virtual phone tree and connect your entire workforce. This powerful tool can allow your company to quickly scale as you grow.

3. Virtual Meetings - As within any company, meetings are a necessity and today you can leverage technology platforms to deliver presentations, product demos and more without flying across country. In-person meetings with clients and business partners are still essential to building relationships, however, leveraging technology in the right situation allows for quicker decision-making and more effective use of time.

4. Results Oriented Management - If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. One of the most important things when managing a distributed workforce is to disengage from the need to monitor your employees every move. With a mutual understanding of trust you can focus your sights on performance. This results oriented philosophy works when both the leadership and the employees have full buy-in on the company mission.

5. Self Motivated Employees - The final and most important requirement in a distributed model are the right employees. Employees must be highly focused, not easily distracted and have the ability to work in an environment with little separation from work/home life.  Not everyone excels in this setting, which is why it’s imperative that the employee has the right attitude and work ethic.


If you are a micro-manager and enjoy controlling every aspect of your employees’ day, then the idea of distributed workforce will make you a little apprehensive. But, if you are willing to step back, put the proper tools in place and embrace the future, you might be able to build a team with higher morale, better performance and increased loyalty.

Originally published in HuffPost