In my IT Dojo post, “IT must prepare for $200-a-barrel oil and a rise in remote workers,” I described how rapidly increasing oil and fuel costs will raise the number of remote workers–including IT professionals. IT leaders who oversee teams of remote workers must develop the skills to successfully manage a distributed workforce.

According to the Global Knowledge white paper, “Successfully Managing Remote Teams,” managers of distributed teams must:

  • Develop and follow a team plan: Your plan should spell out the team’s communication plan, the decision making process, and conflict resolution strategy. Furthermore, you must properly distribute goals, roles and responsibilities, ensure fair work distribution, and decide your leadership level.
  • Get to know the team members: Face-to-face meetings are always best, particularly when meeting someone for the first time. Video conferences will do in a pinch. Telephone calls and e-mails should be your last resort.
  • Stay in touch: Regularly check in with members to monitor progress and provide necessary feedback. Keep members apprised of critical information and decisions.
  • Maximize meetings: Set and follow an agenda, be prepared and require others do the same, and ensure the right people attend. If necessary, allow extra time for preparation when using collaboration technology–video conferencing, shared desktops, conference phone systems.
  • Leverage technology: As a member of a distributed team, I will attest to the benefits of video conferencing and collaboration technology. Seeing a coworker’s face builds a stronger bond and hearing a disembodied voice on a conference call.

The suggestions are just a few of the remote management skills IT leaders will need to master in the coming years. Check out the following TechRepublic resources for more information on managing remote teams: