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专栏 - 向Anne提问

远程办公的管理艺术

Anne Fisher 2014年02月27日

Anne Fisher为《财富》杂志《向Anne提问》的专栏作者,这个职场专栏始于1996年,帮助读者适应经济的兴衰起落、行业转换,以及工作中面临的各种困惑。
并不是所有的人都具备在家办公所需要的素质。身为团队的管理者,你需要清楚地认识到这个问题,同时能够准确判断下属是否具备这些特定的素质。此外,管理在家办公的员工还要求团队管理者掌握一整套特别的技巧,才能确保远程办公取得实效。

    亲爱的安妮:我领导的团队有12名品牌经理,他们有人似乎读过您的专栏文章,其中提到如何说服不情愿的上司批准下属在家办公,因为我最近就收到了许多这样的请求。问题是,其中有几位提出要求的下属在团队中的资历最高,但我认为,他们并不适合独自在家办公。反而是几位新团队成员,可以轻松完成这种转变。

    根据之前在一家公司远程办公的经验,我很清楚要想高效率地在家办公,一个人必须具备某些个性。有的人具备这种个性,但有些人虽然在工作中表现突出,却不见得具备这样的特质。我该如何对某些团队成员说“不”,同时批准其他人的申请,才能避免在团队中造成莫名其妙的紧张气氛?您或您的读者有什么建议吗?我曾向公司人力资源部门求助,但他们只是看着我,好像我有两个脑袋一样。——B.B.

    亲爱的B.B.:你说的对,并不是所有人都能在家把工作做好。有的人认为他们最终可能会得上幽居病。咨询公司Vitesse Consulting的CEO萨尼•马格斯基专门为其他公司设计远程办公政策与具体做法。之前,马格斯基曾经营一家有40多名员工的公司,其中大多数遍布在美国的20多个州,甚至国外。马格斯基表示,其中有一位员工“完全依靠跟同事的互动获得能量和自信。”作为远程办公者,“她非常怀念办公室友情,以至于远程办公最终让她变得消沉。”

    求职网站Telework Recruiting的负责人帕梅拉•拉•乔伊亚指出,如今,“外向性格的人可以通过Facebook进行各种日常互动,因为大多数人在社交媒体上投入的时间要多于和同事面对面交流的时间。”

    此外,独自远程办公需要具备一系列技巧。拉•乔伊亚说:“其中最重要的技巧是,你有没有能力在没有其他人参与的情况下做出决策。有些人在没有日常监管的情况下感觉非常不舒服。他们需要这些额外的压力,才能做好工作。”只不过,只有等到这种压力消失了,他们才会意识到这一点而已。她补充说:“此外,在家办公的人尤其需要以结果为导向。如果有邻居或孩子试图打断你的思路,你必须能够果断地拒绝他们。独自工作需要有超常的专注能力。要全身心投入工作当中,几乎相当于一个人要具备创业者的思维。”

    马格斯基说:“最有效率的远程办公者都做事主动、井井有条。”此外,“乐于做出改变和接受新技术,也会有所帮助。在我之前的工作当中,许多人并不愿意学习如何使用新工具,比如协作软件等,这就很成问题。”

    马格斯基认为,资历与一个人是否适合远程办公没有关系。她认为,你并没有毫不犹豫地就批准所有的申请,这是正确的做法。她说:“管理者必须考虑每个人过往的记录。如果你观察某个人在办公室里的行为,发现他需要一定的监管,或者需要大量饮水机旁的社交,或者他总是很难按时完成工作,这时,鼓励他们在家办公必将导致他们走向失败——或者最后又不得不回到办公室,这也非常尴尬。”

    

    Dear Annie:I lead a team of 12 brand managers, and some of them seem to have read your column about how to persuade a reluctant boss to let you work from home because lately I've been deluged with requests. The problem is, a couple of the people asking are those with the most seniority but who I think are not well-suited to working alone, away from the office. Meanwhile, one of my newer team members could make the transition easily.

    From my own experience working from home at a previous employer, I know it takes a certain personality to telecommute effectively. Some people have it, and some other strong performers just don't. Do you or your readers have any advice on how to say "no" to some team members and not others without causing a lot of weird political tension here? I asked our HR department for help, and they just looked at me as if I had two heads. -- Besieged in Boston

    Dear B.B.:You're certainly right that not everybody is cut out to do their best work home alone, and some people who think they'd like it end up with a bad case of cabin fever. Shani Magosky is CEO of Vitesse Consulting, which specializes in designing companies' telecommuting policies and practices. In her previous job, Magosky ran a firm where most of her 40-plus employees were scattered over 20 states and abroad. One of them "got all her energy and confidence from interacting with peers," says Magosky. As a telecommuter, "she missed that daily camaraderie so much that it turned out to be her downfall."

    Pamela La Gioia, head of job site Telework Recruiting, points out that these days, "extroverts can rely on Facebook for some of that day-to-day interaction, since most people spend more time on social media than talking to their colleagues in person anyway."

    Still, working alone demands a particular set of skills. "The most important one is, can you make a decision without input from anyone else?" La Gioia says. "Some people really struggle without daily supervision. They need that extra bit of pressure to do their best work," and they may not realize that until it's gone. "You also need to be extremely results-oriented, and assertive enough to push back when someone -- a neighbor, a child -- tries to interrupt your train of thought," she adds. "Working alone takes an extraordinary ability to focus. It's almost an entrepreneurial mindset of total commitment to the work."

    "The most productive telecommuters are self-starters, and very well-organized," Magosky says. It helps, too, to be "comfortable with change and new technology. In my old job, I had a few people who were reluctant to learn to use new tools like collaboration software, and it was a real problem."

    Seniority, Magosky notes, has nothing to do with any of this, and she thinks you're right to hesitate to say "yes" to every request. "Managers have to look at each person's track record," she says. "If you can see from someone's behavior in the office that they need a lot of supervision, or a lot of water-cooler socializing, or they have trouble meeting deadlines, then encouraging them to work from home is just setting them up for failure -- or for having to crawl back to the office, which is embarrassing, too."

    

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