Teleworking managers: what mistakes should you avoid?


Edmond Kean

Teleworking managers: what mistakes should you avoid?

If you're a manager, then you know what I'm talking about...

We're not going to lie: managing a team, organising and coordinating everything, motivating the troops, dealing with the unexpected, and so on. It's not easy!

Management can't be improvised... It takes time and experience to learn.

So when you've had your methods down pat for years, you can rest assured...

Everyone wants to telework, in hybrid or full-time mode.

But face-to-face and remote management are not at all the same thing! We all know that.

So, even though it's normal to do it, we're going to give you the classic mistakes not to make...

An informed manager is worth two, isn't he?

Enjoy your reading, and we'll be right back...


SOS, manager in distress

When burn-out or stress at work is mentioned in the media, it's always the employees who are the focus of attention.

Burn-out is then explained by the pace of work, the constraints or the toxic management of the company...

Depression or resignation are said to be caused by certain bad decisions made by a manager or by the pressure he or she imposes...

What emerges is the figure of the authoritarian, old-fashioned manager, who is not very benevolent and who squeezes you like a lemon.

This "cliché" view of the manager doesn't help. This portrait needs to be nuanced...

After all, isn't the manager just another human being?

With their strengths and weaknesses: because they too are victims of psychosocial risks and suffer from stress.


The latest OpinionWay survey (2023) for the french company "Empreinte humaine" shows that 44% of managers suffer from malaise!

They are among the "populations most affected" by these psychosocial risks...

Source : 


Teleworking: the manager's nemesis?

While confinement has revealed a need for teleworking among many employees, the same cannot be said for managers...

In 2021, all the indicators were in the red: after a year and a half of Covid19, 66% of managers found their job too stressful (Indeed study (2021)).

In this new world of remote or hybrid working (half face-to-face, half face-to-face), the manager has found himself in the front line to wipe the slate clean, to improvise...

The result?

According to the Alan Barometer (2023), 1 manager in 2 is anxious and 41% feel isolated.

This is what some people call the manager's blues: a real sense of disillusionment, burnout and the urge to give up!

Why should this happen?

Do we expect too much of managers? Maybe that's the problem!

Don't we expect them to be father, mother, coach, friend and leader all at the same time?

A manager who is by turns empathetic, benevolent, a good communicator, a perfect organiser and, of course, always available!

It's easy to get discouraged...

Are we experiencing a management crisis? Definitely


Management: crisis and transformation

The transformation of the world of work, away from the old vertical patterns of the past, is upsetting habits and points of reference.

The old authoritarian management style is no longer adapted to the expectations of new generations and to new, more hybrid or remote forms of work.

For a long time, the "manager-controller" method prevailed...

The one that considered that visual control was necessary to assess employees' work. The same method that believed that the length of time they had been with the company was the key yardstick for judging their performance...

It's a thing of the past.

Management specialists consider it outdated: heir to an outdated vision, this method is now ineffective, all the more so with the spread of remote working.

However, some managers see this as a loss of control, or even authority.

But why?

Without face-to-face contact, how can you control your employees' work? How can you monitor them?

When your team is physically present on the premises with you, everything is fairly straightforward. You can constantly check what everyone is doing and call on them at a moment's notice, to see who is committed, motivated or a little less so...

With teleworking, none of this is possible: your employees are spread out over different locations and don't necessarily work in sync.

Similary, communication becomes more complicated: with distance, certain points of reference disappear.

We lose visual communication, we no longer talk to each other at the coffee machine or between two corridors.

Gone is the non-verbal, the gesture that says it all without needing to add a word. No more spontaneity...

No more micromanagement! Gone is the culture of presenteeism!

Move from the obsolete "command & control" approach to the effective "lead and help" approach.

Be the manager who supports and helps, not the one who supervises!

But during this transition, mistakes can naturally occur...

Let's look at them together to better anticipate them:


The classic mistakes of remote management

1) Not changing anything

And here's the main mistake not to make: doing business as usual!

Above all, don't change your methods and insist on staying in your comfort zone.

No, teleworking is not about replacing work "in the office" with work "at home".

Working at home and working at the office are not synonymous!

Each has its advantages and disadvantages. So don't expect to find your usual bearings by managing a telecommute.

It's up to you to rethink and reshape work, taking into account the personal constraints of your teams.

A culture of results, you've been told... OK?

So stop monitoring, let go... and trust.


2) Always working off employees' backs

Big Brother, get out!

Following on from mistake number 1, another bad reflex: wanting to be in constant contact with your teams, wanting to control everything...

Videoconferences first thing in the morning, then at the end of the day... A call here, a call there or more and more emails...

The temptation is strong to hold more meetings when your team is at a distance, to call them for no reason or to send them lots of information by email or messenger.

But stop! Let them breathe. Don't make up for the distance with a permanent presence.

Keeping an eye on your teams 24 hours a day is no guarantee of efficiency. In the office too, some people know how to procrastinate... 

So don't put yourself under unnecessary pressure: too much control is bad for your work, and so are too many meetings (even video meetings)!

The expression "acute meeting anxiety" exists for a reason!

On the contrary, be the master of the clocks and keep to a limited timetable, without any excesses or harassment!

Be respectful of your teams: start and finish everything on time.

On the other hand, encourage your team to contact you or to keep in touch with each other by e-mail.


3) Always be unavailable...

We're going too far in the opposite direction: disappearing completely off the radar...

A total vacuum is not the solution either.

If your team didn't need a manager, we'd know about it. So, even if you feel overwhelmed by remote working, don't bury your head in the sand!

That would give the impression that you're too busy, or even unconcerned about your staff's work.

And if you're afraid of disturbing them, find the right formula to offer them a moment of dialogue at a time that suits everyone.

Don't forget that isolation is a risk for teleworkers. Find a happy medium between over-solicitation and a communicative desert.

Be available and present to support them according to their individual needs.


4) Set your own working hours

OK, so you're used to working early and finishing late, and you're not afraid of working from 7am to 7pm.

Perfect, you've found the rhythm that suits you. But don't think that everyone can and should follow your lead...

The beauty of teleworking is that your working hours are no longer as fixed as they used to be... 

Everyone can adapt their working hours to suit their needs: children, spouse, everyday appointments, etc.

The important thing is to get the job done and done well, isn't it?

Understand that from now on, teleworking will allow you to adapt your professional life to your personal life and not the other way round. 

So let go of some ballast and the balloon will take off even higher.

5) Impose days

Yes, some people do!

A classic example: the company forbids teleworking on Mondays or Fridays.

Do you really think that blocking long 3-day weekends is going to make teleworkers more productive?

If you are confident, with a vision of management by results or objectives...

Then it doesn't matter when the work is done, as long as it's done on time and to a high standard, right?

As a manager, send the right signal to your teams and let them manage their teleworking or face-to-face days.

It's a win-win situation.

(Of course, if your team is fully remote, the problem doesn't exist...)


6) Forgetting the collective spirit

When you telework, if everyone works in their own corner, you can quickly lose your sense of community.

You can quickly feel alone and left to your own devices... And yet, even when separated, your team must remain united.

And it's up to you to maintain that collective spirit.

So don't let isolation get the better of you! Show everyone that they are part of a team where everyone has their place and their task to achieve a common goal.

It may sound naive, but there's strength in numbers, isn't there?

Setting up regular videoconferencing sessions, all together, should enable us to reconnect with this collective spirit.

Give everyone the opportunity to find out about each other's work and missions. You'll give them the perspective they need to get an overview of the team's work.

Be the link and relay between all your colleagues.

This also gives meaning to their work. Because certain tasks can seem futile or pointless if they are not placed in a more general context.


7) No rules

With you, everyone does what they feel like: you trust your colleagues 100%!

Bravo, you've understood the concept of trust... But a minimum of common rules is necessary for the collective to function, isn't it?

Otherwise, things can quickly get out of hand.

With teleworking, asynchronous or staggered working patterns are inevitable. That's kind of the point: let everyone work at their own pace, according to their own constraints...

But be careful not to work too much at once, because the progress of other work depends on certain tasks.

So you need to establish rules for working together.

It's also up to you to decide on certain points:

Which communication channel: Teams? Slack? etc.

How and when should you use email or the telephone?

What are your response time expectations?

When can you be reached and when shouldn't you be? Etc.

Beware of over-zealousness: set limits! Overtime and sleepless nights don't make a good teleworker.

So it's up to you, the manager, to be vigilant about these excesses. As you know, an exhausted employee won't do a good job and risks sick leave...

For everyone's well-being, be clear and transparent about your expectations and the way the team works together.


8) Not listening and judging too quickly 

Behind our screens, we lose understanding and communication.

All non-verbal communication disappears... conscious or unconscious gestures, micro-expressions, tone of voice and even a little feeling...

So it's important to avoid listening or talking as if you were at the office...

An email that is read quickly can be misunderstood and misinterpreted... And someone who can express themselves so clearly orally can sometimes be clumsy or confused in writing!

Take the time to read and listen carefully, and above all pay attention to the slightest signs...

Give your employee time to speak and express themselves, to make sure you don't miss anything.

Sometimes people don't dare say what's bothering them, what's distressing them or just ask for a helping hand for fear of appearing incompetent or weak... Reassure them.

And if you have the slightest doubt: make a phone call or do a video!

To avoid any misinterpretation...

And don't just talk about work! Remember, we also talk about more personal things at the coffee machine, so don't get bogged down in work-work exchanges during your video calls or phone calls.

It shows that you care about the well-being of your teams...


09) Wanting to solve everything

As a manager, you're going to be approached regularly. Particularly when problems arise.

Let's be clear: you're not all-powerful! You also have the right not to have a solution for everything...

Basically, it's better to talk to the team and work out solutions together rather than trying in vain to find a solution on your own.

Be a support, a coach for your teams, but don't try to solve everything.

They just want to tell you about a problem they're going to solve, they just need to talk about it, that's all.

And then there are problems that don't fall within your remit... But they just need a bit of listening and empathy, of compassion. 

That's also what being a manager is all about, knowing how to listen without judging, without giving answers... just being present.


And don't forget yourself!

Your role has its limits. So do your working hours... Just like your health.

You're not a superhero who has to answer every call for help. 

That's the whole point of caring and participative management: you work with others, you delegate tasks and you're not on every front.

Because a sick manager can no longer manage his team. Do we agree?

Interesting, isn't it?

These are the most common mistakes, but there are other mistakes too.

And that's sometimes how we learn: by making mistakes.

But if this little reflection helps you avoid a few, it's always a good thing. Right?

So, now that we've talked about what you really shouldn't do when managing from a distance...

I'd like to give you a few tips on how to manage remotely.

You know, the little things that put oil in the machine...

So, see you soon.

Edmond Kean

by Edmond Kean