Remote work arrangements can offer a number of benefits to an organization, including higher job satisfaction among workers and the ability to reduce rent and other overhead. But effective remote work also requires new strategies and policies to manage workers and teams remotely.
Business leaders must find ways to maximize productivity and keep workers motivated even when they can’t directly oversee day-to-day activity. If your organization is testing out remote work options for the first time, the challenges of navigating this transition can lead to growing pains and frustration among managers.
Here are some strategies to translate your leadership skills and style to a remote work environment.
Set Expectations, and Focus on Results
When workers are suddenly told to work from home, the organization as a whole needs objectives and expectations to keep operations on track. Although every business will want to maintain the same expectations in a remote setup as what was standard in the office, goal-setting and quotas will need to be set on a case-by-case basis.
Sales professionals, for example, may not have any shot of hitting their revenue goals amid the pandemic and ongoing business closures. Instead, expectations may need to be adjusted to focus on hitting a certain number of contacts.
Because remote managers aren’t able to monitor workers as closely, you will also need to shift your focus toward individual and collective results. Are current workloads and productivity sufficient for the company?
Give Structure to Remote Work Schedules
In a work-from-home setting, it’s easy for lack of structure to sabotage productivity and daily routine. Business leaders will need to create strategies that help workers structure their activities to maintain a sense of normalcy throughout this change.
This structure could include scheduling a call or check-in with your team at the start of the day. You might also choose to maintain regular schedules for various internal meetings and conference calls. If workers need to modify their schedules so that they have time to watch their children, make accommodations where you can—but also provide structured events and deadlines to keep them operating at their regular pace.
Develop Channels for Communication and E-Collaboration
The switch to remote work has turned Zoom into a widely recognized term in society. Our familiarity with Zoom video conferencing highlights the importance of having effective communication and collaboration channels to facilitate remote work operations.
Whether you lean on video conference tools like Zoom, internal chat platforms like Slack, project management tools like Trello or Asana, and/or cloud collaboration tools offered through Google’s G Suite, don’t enter a remote work arrangement without tools to facilitate communication. Adopt these app-based solutions to coordinate activities across your company.
Encourage Social Interaction with Co-Workers
Your employees aren’t only dealing with the challenges of remote work life. They’re also struggling with social isolation, which can bring its own set of emotions and problems. For many workers, a job offers a natural channel for social interaction—and this interaction can help motivate them and strengthen their commitment to their work.
To that end, businesses should encourage social engagement among co-workers, even if it takes a little time away from weekly productivity. Given the domestic stresses everyone is facing, your business could offer a one-hour work “happy hour” sometime during the week where employees can log onto video conferencing for the sole purpose of having a good conversation.
By finding a way to support your workers’ social and emotional health, you’ll ultimately be investing in your workers. hat goodwill will likely be paid back through greater loyalty and commitment to work in the future.
Adopt an Attitude of Resilience
Nobody said remote work would be easy—especially when it’s forced on you out of the blue. But challenges such as these are when leadership qualities shine through. It’s unrealistic to expect a perfect transition from the start, but you can refine your operations and deliver better results by being patient as you manage this change and by learning from your failures during this process.
In many organizations, remote work is an imperfect arrangement—even if it offers certain advantages. But with other options off the table, every remote team manager and leader must do whatever they can to support their workers and guide their best efforts until work life can finally return to normal.
For more information on how to effectively motivate and manage your remote teams at a distance, watch our on-demand webinar: Leadership Challenges with Remote Work.