With the number of remote employees growing, it can be difficult to navigate the new ways in which you lead your team if you are used to face-to-face interactions.
Between time differences, meeting overloads, and issues getting messages across, you may feel as though you are failing your team in terms of leadership.
If you need some tips, here are nine ways you can maintain leadership while working remotely.
1. Keep Communication Open
Due to the major shift to remote work, traditional communication is more difficult to come by. You may be used to doing office rounds or sending emails for a quick check-in, but it’s important to realize that your communication style may need adjusting to ensure effective communication. As a strong leader, your workforce is going to look to you for guidance and reassurance, so finding ways to keep communication open and consistent is key.
You can improve remote communication by first deciding which channels are appropriate for you and your team. Options such as Zoom, Slack, and Trello are excellent ways to manage projects and communicate with remote teams. Ultimately, you have to assess what tools will fit your team’s needs the best. Take time to connect with your team members one-on-one every week to ensure they have the tools necessary to set them up for success.
2. Maintain Company Values
The strength of a company can be associated with the values and culture that are practiced on a day-to-day basis. While in the past there may have been traditional in-person activities your company participated in, it is important to transition company activities to fit remote work as well. According to a survey completed by Nulab, 90.2% of employees said company culture is crucial for workplace productivity. By creating and maintaining a culture where employees still feel involved (even while remote) your organization will continue to reap the benefits.
For example, a strong leader that promotes the company values regularly will encourage a stronger workforce, and ultimately bring success to the organization. In support of this, entrepreneur Robert F. Smith claims, “You’ve got to build an organization reflective of your customer base so you can maintain product superiority and gain market advantage.” Therefore, by establishing and maintaining company values that reflect your workforce and consumers, you can find success both internally and externally.
3. Be Flexible
A typical 9 to 5 workday may not be the most realistic or productive expectation for your remote workforce. Between digital burnout, parents who are homeschooling, or the general adjustment to remote work, finding ways to accommodate your employees can make a difference. You should understand moving forward that the need for breaks may not only be more prevalent but beneficial to employee productivity, retention, and overall happiness.
Consider implementing a more flexible work schedule instead of a strict 9 to 5. This gives employees the ability to plan and complete tasks more effectively and can reduce the need for unnecessary paid time off. Other ways to be flexible include offering mental health days or encouraging employees to take real lunch breaks away from their screens. By providing your employees with flexible work options, you allow them to feel in charge of and empowered about the work that they are doing.
4. Establish Expectations
No matter if you are new to working from home, or have been on a remote team for an extended time, establishing expectations as a leader can prove to be beneficial. By having clear expectations of your employees, they can then hit both personal and professional goals with ease. This also enhances the success of your entire organization.
Whether it is the way your employees behave, perform, or represent the company, ensuring your workforce has a clear understanding of the core values and expectations of the company is important. To set expectations, first determine exactly what you will be looking for. For example, think of what you consider to be proper video chat etiquette, how to set clear project timelines, and even share your personal work hours each day to ensure clear communication. Once you acknowledge what you are looking for, be sure to lay out exactly what you expect of your employees both in onboarding as well as periodically to remind them of their responsibilities.
5. Increase Recognition
Employee recognition in the office can look drastically different from that of remote workers. On a Friday, the boss may celebrate company production with a lunch for the office, or coworkers share a “congrats on the presentation” in passing. For employees that work on-site, this can be both motivating and the highlight of their week. Unfortunately, many remote employees can feel lost in the shuffle, or even underappreciated.
By taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate the work that your remote employees are producing, you will find a continuous improvement in their work. Consider a quick virtual face-to-face call to praise the work they are doing, give financial incentives, or even a company award. Do not shy away from employee appreciation celebrations as well. Something as small as company trivia, or a Q & A can help individuals in your organization feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
6. Adapt Meetings
While in office, you may have found yourself in meetings more often that proved to be beneficial in completing your work. However, remote work can change the way you feel about meetings due to burnout, poor communication, and a lack of video chat etiquette. To have successful meetings with your employees, you must make adaptations that work for the group as a whole.
One way you kickstart a better meeting is by having an agenda, as well as sharing it with your team in advance. That way everyone is informed about what the meeting will cover, and each person can come prepared to speak on the topic, and it can leave time in the end for questions without running over. Also, consider inviting only those who need to be present or speak in the meeting. Too often are entire teams invited only for the majority to listen to the information instead of contributing. While in some instances that may be necessary, it is important to weed out what is crucial to the work you are doing to maximize your time as efficiently as possible.
7. Resist Micromanaging
Do you feel as though you need to approve everything, hate to delegate tasks, and that you need to be constantly aware of where your employees are and what they are doing? If you said yes to any of those questions, you may be a micromanager. As stated by author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek, “A boss who micromanages is like a coach who wants to get in the game. Leaders guide and support and then sit back to cheer from the sidelines.” Micromanagement can be extremely detrimental to a team’s success because it can damage employee trust, morale, increase turnover, and provide an invitation for burnout.
To correct this trait and to prevent future micromanaging, consider using Areas of Responsibility—a tool that can help delegate responsibility throughout the organization rather than just coming to you. You can also utilize cross-departmental tools to improve communication as opposed to constantly asking for updates. By finding ways to negate typical micromanaging actions, you will then be able to implement other tools and processes that lead to more success.
8. Promote Work-Life Balance
The idea of exceeding a 40-hour workweek has become something that is overly glorified. Individuals believe that working more is equivalent to working harder, and that is the only way to be successful and achieve their professional goals. One way you can adjust this kind of thinking is to promote a healthy work-life balance for both yourself and your employees.
Simple things you can do to promote a healthier work-life balance are encouraged to time off, create a no-meeting block each week, and encourage employees to sign off at the end of their day. It is important to create a separation between work and personal life while working remotely to prevent burnout. Pushing employees to take “offline” breaks for lunch or fresh air can make or break an individual’s road to burnout.
9. Offer Resources
Remote work can often make employees feel disconnected and even lonely in the workplace. No matter if your organization has recently transitioned to remote work or not, finding ways to be more inclusive, as well as supportive, can transform an employee’s work experience. Also, offering additional resources can help build out your company culture, making it a place others will want to work at.
Resources such as mental health support, benefits, and a 401k, can help to put your employees’ minds at ease. These resources can prove to alleviate external stressors that may come with working from home, as well as provide additional care for their families. You can also look into providing remote employees with tools such as technology and office supplies, like ergonomic seating, to ensure they are as comfortable as possible while working at home.
Leadership is often viewed as the backbone of a successful business, therefore making it essential to maintain during remote work. Utilizing and implementing these tips will make for a smooth remote work lifestyle for both you and your employees.