However, remote management is not as often talked about.
It is not as straightforward indeed - as a manager, one has few pre-packaged specific tasks to fulfill. As a leader, one shall rather... well, lead. But what is leadership besides communicating to the people, both internally and externally?
For the past seven months I have been located several thousands kilometers away from both my colleagues as well as clients. The business department I am responsible for has more than 30 people. I am visiting our office and our clients on average every 1,5 months. Otherwise, I have on average 3-5 videoconference calls every day (and an impressive amount of e-mails and text chats).
So, here are some reflections so far:
What is good about remote management:
- It pulls you out of your familiar environment, it gives different room for thoughts and innovative ideas
- It provides a push for greater efficiency - being stripped away of usual working methods, you are pushed to think differently
- Whenever you come to office, it feels like a special occasion both for you and your colleagues
- Less disturbance and more room for concentration (like with any remote work)
What is difficult about remote management:
- No social source of motivation (not having your excellent colleagues nearby)
- No possibility to have spontaneous (but meaningful) lunches or talks in the coffee corner
- If there are videoconferences with several people and someone is showing something on the screen or whiteboard, it is difficult to see it
- (this is by far the most difficult) If the Internet connection is slow - or even down - the bad video/audio quality can ruin the whole experience of the calls or videoconferences - and be highly inefficient
- It requires strong discipline (like any remote work)
Additionally, I live in Central Asia, while the office and clients are 3-5 hours "behind" me in Central / Eastern European time zone.
Upsides of working remotely 3-5 hours ahead of the time zones of your colleagues / clients:
- Allows "slow" start of the day - provides flexibility to use this time for sports (e.g. swimming in my case), reading interesting articles or books, playing with kids
- Allows to start working day before everyone else and focus on tasks requiring concentration
- Allows to do personal duties (like shopping, hairdresser etc) in the mornings when there is least demand and fewest other customers
Downsides of being several hours ahead of your colleagues / clients:
- Sometimes need to take meetings during late hours
- Need to operate in 2-3 time zones simultaneously - sometimes creates mental errors as of at which time I have which appointment
Preconditions of remote management - it is only possible if:
- The teams and people in general are, to a very large degree, self-going and autonomous
- There is a very strong middle-management level (in my case, team leads)
- There are frequent video conference calls with the key people
- Need physical presence time-to-time (once every 1-1,5 months in my experience is a good frequency)
All in all, what is my evaluation of this experience so far?
At times challenging, but very stimulating and useful if not lasting for too long.
I am happy to work in and have a strong impact on an organisation allowing me such management experiments. :)