How can I be a good leader of a remote team?

Leading a remote team can be challenging, especially if you are transitioning from managing employees within the confines of an office environment to the web. We know, however, that remote work is becoming an expectation that is unlikely to go away. Although most organizations are enabled with the technology to provide remote work options to employees, 93% leave the decision up to the individual manager. When faced with this decision, only 56% of managers actually let employees work remotely. This stems from a lack of trust. In previous posts in this series, we showed the evidence that demonstrated how remote employees are more productive.  We also saw how extending trust increased productivity, energy, and employee engagement.  The data shows that working remotely can optimize performance for employees.  So how do we do it?  

Start by establishing a structure and encouraging communication and interaction within your team. Daily check-ins are a great way to start by building accountability and opening the lines of communication.  Next, select a solid technology platform to foster communication.  Make sure your team feels comfortable with the platform so they can be productive. Clarify your expectations for their engagement. For example, is video conferencing expected or will IM’ing suffice? Ensuring you use these platforms to provide social interaction, this will be key to success. When asked, 21% of employees attributed loneliness as the biggest struggle with remote work, 21% attributed challenges with collaborating and/or communication, and 16% attributed distractions at home. Setting expectations up front and engaging with employees will help combat these challenges.

Next, be sure to reinforce the core values of your organization. During periods of uncertainty, employee misconduct increases by as much as 33%. Aligning your employees on the values and goals of the organization and reinforce how their individual work contributes to those high-level objectives.  This will keep employees committed and positively engaged. In addition, studies show that employees are impacted by how their boss reacts to certain scenarios. Setting an example for your team by practicing what you preach will demonstrate your leadership.

Working remotely, employees may feel that they do not get recognized as frequently or to the same extent they may previously had in the office. During periods of disruption, however, employees’ desire for being recognized for their contribution increases by about. Providing recognition for employees not only builds employee morale and provides opportunities for social interaction, it also makes employees feel more engaged and motivates them to be more productive.  

Finally, trust your employees and make sure they know it. These strategies will only be successful if your employees feel they are trusted to do what is expected of them whether or not they are sitting in the same room as you. If you are wishing to capitalize on the increased productivity, work time, energy, and engagement, establishing trust will be imperative.  

So after you get all this setup, it might be time to go back to the office. Then what?  More on that in our next post…

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