The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 6, 2013

Balancing Act: Remote employees require care to feel like part of team


Among employers, the common objection to working remotely has been the fear that it would encourage slacking off. Some remote workers do, in fact, turn into slackers, take advantage of their situations and wind up getting fired.

Business owner Patrice Rice has learned that the right management style often can prevent that from happening.

Rice launched her business, a restaurant and hospitality recruiting company with employees in 40 cities across the country, and eventually moved to a franchise model. “It was hard for me to understand why someone would want to pay me money to buy a franchise and then sit home and not work. Why would they want to do this if they are not motivated and self-disciplined? It was a real eye-opener.”

Rice learned that franchisees — just like remote workers — need to feel connected to a home base. Now, for the first 90 days, she virtually “touches” her new franchisee at least once a day and uses technology to work together online on spreadsheets. “I let them know they are part of something and I’m committed to their success.”

Javier Burdman, Rice’s new Miami franchisee, has set up an office with three employees, calling it Talex USA. He says he wants the ongoing communication with Rice that remote workers seek out, whether it’s a phone call, text or a video conference. “When you’re miles away, it helps to know you have someone working with you to solve problems.”

Meanwhile more companies are considering allowing their professionals to work remotely, even on a part-time basis. Michael Goodman, a partner at public relations firm Bitner Goodman in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said he and his partner, Gary Bitner, bought an office building earlier this month and adjusted their space needs to allow more staffers to work remotely.

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