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#WFH: What is Your Role and Responsibility?

Virtual managers need to provide direction and remove all (or at least most) ambiguity. Managing virtual workers is a highly centralized and structured function. Virtual teams function best with formalized roles and responsibilities including those of the management. Virtual communication requires a broader base of skills. These skills can vary based on the distance and diversity of the workers. Decision making is often rooted in the culture we come from and different cultures have different approaches. Virtual teams need a very detailed explanation of how decisions will be made. Management needs to be aware of cultural differences and be open to try-ing new approaches (Evans, 2011), which is just the opposite of what the business schools have been teaching about leadership and loosely defined job descriptions and sharing roles. This is partly be-cause the decisions in a virtual workplace are arrived at differently.

Along with being highly self-motivated, virtu-al managers need to be organized and capable of building relationships. Short but frequent contacts are essential for keeping remote workers engaged, informed and interested in the daily happenings. These short connections can help to keep workers interested and relationships strong. Virtual managers need the ability to acknowledge contributions and provide informal feedback. Everyone likes to feel important and that includes virtual workers. Managing performance is most effective in the virtual environment when management and the work-er together establish how performance will be assessed and evaluated.

Virtual workers are most productive when they self-manage. Trust is what allows them to thrive. This includes acting with autonomy and setting and enacting their own priorities. Many organizations find this the most difficult part of having a virtual workplace. Some have even reverted to using soft-ware and video-enhanced monitoring techniques but research strongly supports that this kind of at-tempt at control backfires. Looking over the shoulder of remote employees can have a very detrimental effect on motivation and productivity (Sundin, 2010). In the virtual workplace, trust is measured almost entirely in terms of reliability.

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