Select Page

Managing In a Virtual World

by | Feb 15, 2019 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

Historically, management has been based on the workforce being located in the same place, all there at the same time and sharing a common culture. This has led to many of today’s managers believing it’s their job to control the workforce.

However, the role of today‚Äôs manager is to lead others to manage themselves. After all, even if the traditional role of management is desirable, it simply isn’t practical when people are located all over the map!

Working effectively with teams made up of people from different locations means learning a whole new style of management. Although an effective style in a more traditional work setting, management by walking around needs some adapting for the new virtual workplace.

Most managers are used to being hands-on, physically checking in on the work being done, and getting updates. Therefore, they are naturally concerned about how they will control the quantity and quality of work when people are scattered about at various locations.

At a fundamental level, managing from a distance means learning to build trust and delegate effectively.

But developing the social warmth, spontaneous humour and social bonding that comes naturally when people come together, can be the leader’s biggest challenge.

Managers can deal with these challenges both confidently and effectively by adopting the following framework:

  • create a vision for the organisation, one that others find inspiring and energising
  • get great results, managing by principle rather than policy, boundaries rather than directives
  • actively facilitate, bringing together the necessary tools, information and resources for getting the job done
  • eliminate barriers by opening doors, challenging status quo and breaking down the barriers that act as interference to team success
  • understand and communicate the big picture, acting as advocate for the customer
  • effectively coach others to reach their potential
  • set a personal example, serving as a role model for the desired behaviours


  1. Alan Berck-May

    Great article. This is something that has interested me after dealing with employees whose performance appraisal was delivered over the phone as the manager was located in Germany.

    I have a sense that the need for communication is heightened by distance otherwise the manager is seen as remote – not only by distance.

    Having the contact by walking around is lost but this can still be accomplished by making regular phone calls and video conferences part of the norm. In addition, taking the time to visit the remote workers is usually really appreciated.

    • My Own Coach Ltd

      Thanks for the feedback, Alan. I agree with your observation that managers can be seen as remote in more ways than the distance if there is an issue in the quality of communication.

      Leading from a distance is now the norm, yet managers still hang on to the out-dated notion of control, rely on the same methods of communication and don’t utilise the full use of technology available, as well as the thinking behind it.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.