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 dissemination.


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.

return to flowchart

Last Updated on 10 December 2002 by COLIN TIERNEY