Tailoring Change Management for Telework

Full or part-time telework is now part of the business landscape throughout the Federal and private sectors. When an organization makes any significant change, such as installing a new system, upgrading a process or introducing a new service, expected user acceptance and usage rates may be elusive due to this culture shift. Teleworkers may miss many of the office-based communications, briefings from management, and peer-to-peer conversations.

While the foundations of change management are solid, special approaches are needed to reach both traditional and teleworking employees to move them through the change process. Tailor your change management strategy starting with these ideas:

Reach Teleworkers at Home. Gain awareness and buy-in by a consistent and steady stream of communications on the intranet and email. Regular online surveys both measure interest and communicate messages. Consider setting up a specific intranet site for the change project to answer questions and receive feedback.

Visible Sponsors make a Bigger Impact. Strong sponsorship lends any change the critical credibility for success. If employees are regularly teleworking, an increased level of sponsor communications is needed to ensure the culture reaches them at home, not just in the office. A steady stream of events, webinars and articles from the Sponsor with benefits of the change, status updates and addressing concerns are the tipping point to overcome resistance with a far-flung team.

Target Managers. Teleworkers may not partake in many organization events, but they regularly interact with their managers. In some organizations, the manager/first-line supervisor is the teleworking employee’s only regular touchpoint to the company culture. Focus your change resources on managers, including providing tools for their teams.

Mix training with online communications and in-person sessions. Training is a consistent line item in any change budget. Most sponsors believe in training even if they are on the fence with change management as a whole. For teleworking employees, create a campaign of training, mixing tips, teasers, shortcuts, and benefits with in-person classroom training. When employees come in for training, ensure they leave with effective cheat sheets, reminders and other physical reminders to reinforce training and improve retention.

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