Good managers make distributed teams work

Managing tomorrows worker(MTW): a research report by Henley Management College on remote and flexible working.

The Managing Tomorrow’s Worker (MTW) project was sponsored by Microsoft and the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK.

The research was carried out by the Future Work Forum at Henley Management College between February 2004 and March 2005 (full report - 136 pages - available for download)

The research set out to investigate the hypothesis that:

“Managers of flexible workers manage in a different way than traditionally and they therefore have a different competence profile.”

Research Conclusions

After face-to-face interviews with eleven HR directors, structured telephone interviews with 35 team managers and 109 questionnaires completed by managers and team members the research team found that:

  • Work will continue to become more remote and flexible and that good managers will adapt to this
  • Organisations will need good management processes and competent managers in order to succeed in this new working environment
  • Weak management is more likely to have a negative impact and may be less likely to be detected
  • The process and competences needed to manage remote teams are not radically different from managing co-located teams
  • Communications are critical and organisations should review how their managers are communicating with employees and identify areas for improvement
  • The less tangible aspects of communications, such as social contact, make a major contribution towards good teamwork and motivation and must also be addressed

These conclusions squarely point to the competence and commitment of team managers as making the difference between success and failure in virtual, remote and flexible working

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