Updated: Nov 2, 2020
Today more companies are recognizing the value of remote employees. Meanwhile, we know many employees who are now working remotely for the first time, as well as managers who had not experienced leading a remote team. It behooves business leaders and managers to adjust their leadership styles to translate what worked in an office setting to lead and manage a remote or hybrid workforce.
With the expectations around virtual workers rising, as a manager, you can retool to successfully lead, engage, and get the best results from your employee, benefiting personally and professionally.
In 2020, before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, 7 million people were working remotely in the U.S., that's 3.4 percent of the population. Over the last five years, the number of people working remotely has grown by 44 percent.
A recent study by Gartner in March 2020 found that about 74 % of CFOs surveyed expect some of their employees who worked from home because of the global health crisis to continue working remotely after the pandemic ends.
Aside from dire situations, such as a global health crisis, or significant regulatory concerns, there are advantages and merits to developing a remote workforce. Allowing talent to work remotely creates various benefits, including helping them to be more independent and productive, without sacrificing quality, and removing office distractions. It also eliminates a significant loss of valuable resources, employees' time, money, and energy, commuting to and from work, and enables many employees to integrate work and personal commitments
To support you in the best way that we can, in this article, we highlight and share 12 best practices managers of remote teams can leverage to motivate a remote workforce and to be as successful as possible when leading their teams during challenging times.
We tapped into our insights and experiences and the most relevant advice we found from a diverse source pool, including the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, bambooHR, mondayremote, and TechRepublic.
As you review these practices, make a mental note of the ones you are already using—continue to expand on them, and also highlight new ones that you could adopt to become even more effective in your role as a leader.
#1 Stay Focused On Goals, Not Activities
It is essential to stay focused on goals when managing a remote workforce. Don't worry about how it's getting done or the activities. Instead, focus on the end-result and accomplishments. If your team is meeting their goals, then great. Otherwise, look into the situation further.
#2 Set Expectations
Everyone has a different understanding of what doing something "quickly" or "well" means. You can show examples of what you expect for deliverables(calendar sharing, etc.) to ensure you set clear expectations for your remote workers. Create a remote work system to identify guidelines and expectations for employees who are not working in the office.
#3 Be as responsive and available as possible
Working remotely, the lag in communication makes the distance much more noticeable. If you email someone and there isn't a response for several hours, you're going to wish you worked in the same office, so you didn't have to deal with that. When working with remote workers, ensure to reply to inquiries and team communication within a specified timeframe based on geography and share your expectations for two-way communication.
#4 Schedule regular check-ins
Plan regularly scheduled virtual meetings. They can be daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the nature of the work and could be combined with a training or coaching program. This level of communication and engagement will help remote employees feel included in an essential aspect of the organization.
#5 Accommodate flexible work schedules
Be conscious of different time zones and employee situations. This level of thoughtfulness is the best way to show respect and understanding of other team members. Letting people work remotely but then tying them with a fixed schedule can be counterproductive. Focus on the team collaboration requirements, and end-results, not the minutiae of "screen time" to measure performance.