Supervisors Are Managing and TelecommutingQ Bridge

When Karen Briegs teleworks two days each week from her Hillsborough, NJ home everyone on the 10-member team she manages at Schering-Plough's corporate campus in Kenilworth (NJ) knows their responsibilities and Briegs' expectations. "When I'm teleworking, I'm not looking over their shoulders and I'm not acting as a crutch for them either," admits Briegs, the assistant director of the company's clinical information center. "Since I work remotely my staff has learned to be very independent."

A variety of workstyle arrangements exist where managers are the ones doing the telecommuting. Briegs relies on e-mail and a multiline, multifunction speakerphone to maintain constant contact with her team and her clients. Everyone on her team will relay client or team issues to Briegs so she can determine any immediate course of action. Briegs uses her days on site to assign new responsibilities at weekly meetings and visit with contracted consultants.

When managers telecommute, they and their staff create a routine for staying in contact and getting the work done. Barbara Adler learned this when she herniated a disk and was required to stay off her feet. The issue became how Adler would accomplish her own work as vice president/team leader for a Chicago-based public relations firm, Porter Novelli.

After a short transition: connecting her home to the company network and having essential documents and books delivered, Adler was able to work with clients, craft media and branding strategies, and stay on top of projects and deadlines for her 16-member team back at the office. "One way I motivated the staff was to ask them to help me perform well," Adler said. "I still have to accrue billable hours and my staff really stepped up to the plate." Team members held weekly phone meetings with Adler and will check each others work before submitting it to her for approval. Now that Adler's condition is improving she has opened her home for staff and client visits.

For Vermont Mold & Design, sales manager Ken Jansen coordinates a remote sales force with an out-of-state corporate headquarters from his home in Madison, CT. "We're using different tools than we did 20 or 30 years ago in manufacturing sales," explains Jansen, "everything was oriented to the salesperson doing things back and forth by car."

In this environment requests for quotes and specs are sent from the field to VMD in New Hampshire and pricing is sent back, electronically. "I get on the phone and try to stimulate these salespeople and monitor follow-up developments on leads." He then stays abreast of the approved sales order until finished product delivery to the customer is completed.