BlogManaging People in Remote Work

July 7, 20200

Management of people in organizations has always been a subject of serious discussion for managers. Despite the continuous development of many management theories and experiments, the arguments in favor or against of them never cease to exist.

Even though all managers accept that every person has their unique way of managing, the broad and general management styles have always been preferred for guidance.

On having a look at the last few decades on the evolution of management studies, we can observe that the Theory X and Theory Y of the practice of management in the organizations, provided by Douglas McGregor, has been majorly popularized. 

Theory X and Theory Y have been continuously implemented in organizations since their introduction and are preferred by managers according to their organizational environment.

But how to adopt a suitable management style for your organization when all your employees are working remotely in today’s time?

Before delving further for the answer to this question, we must understand the management styles presented by Theory X and Theory Y.

Theory X

This theory follows the classical approach of management thought and believes that people who do not want to work thus need to be controlled, supervised, incentivized, and punished according to their performance. The communication flows only downwards. This theory presents a negative view of human behavior and therefore suggests an autocratic style of management.

Theory Y

This theory encourages organizations to trust their employees and give them autonomy in their work areas. It presents a positive picture of human nature and behavior and believes that people are willing to work while taking initiative given the right social and recognition motivation. Therefore it presents a democratic management style.

Over the years, both the management styles have been adopted and experimented with by the organization all over the world. Though it is an accepted fact that suitability of management style depends upon the organizational structure and individual management preferences, Theory Y has been favored by a majority of modern managers. 

Following an autocratic style may lead to distrust among employees further reducing their motivation to work. In a democratic setting, people feel more trusted and work satisfaction which increases the sense of responsibility and overall productivity.  

The application of these management styles seems to be quite simple and attainable in traditional office culture and has been in practice for decades. But when it comes to adopting a style for managing human capital in a remote setting, the same practice may seem complicated to implement. 

The biggest factor of deciding a management style in a remote work setting is that your employees are not physically present under your watch. You may have employees working in different continents and time zones. You cannot keep a constant eye on them. These are just a few added reasons for adopting a democratic management style in a remote setting.

But how can you implement theory Y in practice and make your employees trusted and motivated to work?


  • Set cooperative objectives

According to theory Y, employees perform well to achieve objectives if they have some individual interest in them. Setting organizational objectives that benefit both organization and employees will motivate employees to work and take initiatives. Attainment of individual objectives will ultimately result in the fulfillment of organizational goals.


  • Contribution in managerial decisions

Ask your employees for regular suggestions and changes that they would like to see in organizational policies. This gives employees a sense of higher self-esteem and actualization. As it is suggested by the Hawthorne study, social recognition and self-esteem are much more effective motivators for employees as compared to monetary incentives.


  • Regular communication

Frequent communication with employees is the key to understanding their needs and establishing trust. Conduct regular video meetings, establish a chat platform where your employees can reach you directly, have one-on-one calls once a month. Let your employees see that they can reach and contact anyone in the organization in the time of need.


  • Trust your employees

Trust is very crucial while working remotely. Even though you can not see your employees, trust that they are working. Believe that they are motivated to work and are passive. Believe that they know their responsibilities. Follow their progress and guide them. Let them decide their own most productive schedule. Remember trusting someone is the only way to make them trust you.


While implementing theory Y in remote work, management only needs to develop suitable conditions for employees. Managers should guide the employees to achieve their individual goals that ultimately lead to the achievement of organizational objectives.

There may always be some arguments in favor of or against every management style, but it is evident that theory Y is more suitable keeping in view the modern management styles as well as the new culture of remote work.


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