In the latest security clearance careers podcast, ClearanceJobs chats with┬áLaurence Rose, PhD and SVP of Contracts and Procurement at Salient CRGT. He discusses his recent research into virtual workers and how ‘the human touch’ enables successful working relationships.

According to a Gallup poll published in August of 2015, telecommuting has climbed to 37 percent. As more government agencies look to save money, increase productivity, and compete for talent, flexible schedules are on the rise.

“The important thing when we talk about telecommuting or virtual work, is the distinction that it doesn’t really matter where or how you’re doing it,” said Rose. “It’s more where you’re getting the direction of that work,” said Rose. Where you’re doing it is less important than if you are doing it, he notes.

“The research bears out that there’s no difference between working at Starbucks Coffee and doing my internet there, or whether I’m working at a hotel station in a remote office, or whether I’m working at a home office. Where is the direction, where is my task, and how am I really being productive in that environment is kind of where the focus needs to be.”

That distinction is important, because it demonstrates how Rose’s research is applicable not just to the traditional teleworking employee, but any employee who may be located away from management. If you’re a contractor working away from your corporate office or whether you’re at home in your pajamas, the criteria for success are the same.

“A lot of the participants in the research said, I’m able to stay a virtual worker because I’m productive,” said Rose.

How to Make Telework Successful?

“We want to focus on the traditional aspects of management,” said Rose. “It’s really about trust, isolation, and presence.” Those attributes matter whether the employee is teleworking, or right down the hall.

“Teleworking isn’t for everybody,” said Rose. “There are certain jobs, and there are certain people, who it isn’t for.” He noted that research bore that out, and whether or not telework works often boils down to what the person is producing and whether or not they’re effective – it needs to be measurable.

Telework – A Two way street

While a lot of focus is placed on companies enabling a successful teleworking program – through video conferencing, training, or management – employees have responsibility for making telework successful, as well.

“It’s really a two way street,” said Rose. “It’s not just want the manager can do, it’s what the employee can do in establishing that productive working relationship.”

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