Increasingly it looks as though Teleworkers will become the core of many businesses' human resource. They, and their arrangements will continue to mature. How much they contribute will largely depend on how well they are developed. If they are treated for development purposes as a disposable, non-essential asset, then eventually they will behave that way.
As full members of the workforce maybe Teleworkers shouldn't have special development plans. Experience shows, however, that special consideration of certain elements needs to take place if their needs are not to go unmet.
Teleworkers rely on networks. Without
the casual and ad hoc relationships afforded by the traditional workbase, there
is a concern that they will become isolated. Distant from face to face contact,
their skills at networking become more, rather than less, important. The
organisation must support and encourage that networking, both within and,
especially, without the organisation's boundaries. By assisting and facilitating
growing networks of Teleworkers the organisation can grow with the individuals.
Teleworkers should be brought into the
normal timetable of meetings at appropriate intervals. All the evidence points
to periodical meetings as having a beneficial effect on the long term
relationship. People putting a face to the voice or signature, goes a along way
to avoiding the isolation effect. Of course, whether those meetings need to
take place at the workbase is another question.
The Teleworker will solve problems, push
new boundaries and make discoveries. This will occur naturally when they seek
to utilise their own resources in different situations. It will be natural for
them to do so. The banal and arbitrary nature of these discoveries risks their
being taken for granted. Any organisation which has pretensions to be a
learning one needs to capture these episodes in a systematic and progressive
way. Regular debriefing sessions should be held at which developmental
experiences should be analysed and the learning points identified for further
Perhaps more than traditional workers,
Teleworkers need Personal Development Plans. Their position outside the
mainstream of HR and training focus requires them to accept a personal
responsibility for their own development. Supported by the organisation, and
committed to their own Continuous Professional Development, they should be
assisted to analyse their needs, identify suitable developmental opportunities
and make the best of those activities. A framework for a suitable development
model is illustrated at http://www.colintierney.com/devmodel
The returns on Teleworking investment
are substantial, but to really deliver its true potential requires long term
investment in the Teleworker.
Last Updated on 10 December 2002 by COLIN TIERNEY