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Managing a Remote Workforce- Leading at a Distance

In 2019 and early 2020, articles about remote work were still in the ‘what if’ phase. Back then, 55% of businesses worldwide allowed for remote work in some shape or form — and only 4.7 million people were already working at home. 

If you find yourself leading from a distance, or are looking for a new leadership role in this climate, use these tips to help settle in and support your team as you all adjust to this new style of work.

Express Yourself Visually

What says “good job” more effectively? A short email that simply says, “good work” or a funny GIF or emoji? Very often, animations communicate feedback better than text because they pick up on the non-verbal communication you miss out on when you work remotely.

So, use emoji replies on Slack, send GIFs in an email, and do it consistently.

And don’t forget to reiterate your praise on video calls. It means more than you think.

Build in Time for Conversation

When you’re all at home, it seems prudent to hop on a call, talk about what needs to happen, and then get back to what you were doing. Running a meeting or call this way makes it very transactional, and that’s not good for your team.

You need to build relationships with your team members as people, so build time for chatting into your meetings. It will help you get to know your team, build rapport, and indicate what issues your team are having before they become problems.

Trust Your Team

If you don’t trust a member of your team, then you shouldn’t have hired them. But since they’re here, you should know you can rely on them.

You don’t need to rely on blind trust. Instead, set your expectations early and make them clear. Then, everyone is on the same page, and no one is left waiting for a deliverable.

Focus on Goals Rather Than Activity

A big problem managers face when leading remote teams is their emphasis on activity. They think: what if they aren’t working for eight hours? How can I tell?

The truth is that your on-site employees aren’t engaging in work activity for every minute they’re at the office either. The only difference is that you can drop in on them.

Rather than getting hung up on minutes worked, focus on goals. Is the work getting done? Is it on time? Is it of the quality you outlined in your expectations? If the answer to those questions is yes, then you have a productive team.

Get Ready to Lead Remotely

Today, everyone who can is by-and-large working from home, and leaders are leading from home. Learning to manage a remote workforce is very different from getting to grips with telecommuting tools. You need a whole new style that accounts for the lack of literal facetime.

Are you looking for your next leader, or needing to hire for a remote team? Get in touch to learn about our fine-tuned process for placing skilled IT professionals.


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