Remote teams are here to stay, and believe it or not, company culture, performance, and even retention rates can avoid looming dry spells with the right approach to virtual leadership.
Managing from “afar” isn’t really all that far when resources are readily available for keeping organizations functioning across time zones and departments with ease.
So what do managers need when leading remote teams?
An understanding of the challenges that impact remote workproductivity and employee well-being.
A can-do/will-do mindset to test, adapt, and trust processes and workflows.
Tools and support for continuous growth.
And most importantly, a talented and capable team that will thrive under the right conditions, whether working from home or in the office.
Though obstacles are sure to arise (as if they haven’t already), it’s how hiring managers roll with the punches and find the ebb to the flow of their workforce. Here are just a few challenges that are potentially derailing for any business leader managing a remote team.
Keeping up engagement: Employee engagement is a critical area needing attention when focused on instilling workplace happiness, but it’s easier said than done with virtual teams. “Out of sight- out of mind” thinking may cause you to underestimate the value of healthy interaction and innovation among team members working remotely.
Bringing your teams together: Disconnectedness between team members or the company’s culture and values has always been a concern for in-office workers, so it’s no surprise that similar issues are hovering over remote employees as well. Virtual managersinterested in realigning with their teams’ goals and improving employee satisfaction are investing in their company’s employee experience.
Strengthening your communication style: There’s always room for improvement. Team leaders can help promote successful workplace relationships and effective communication by initiating constructive dialogue within their remote teams. Building the foundation for employees to feel free and encouraged to speak up in virtual meetings or elsewhere in the workplace also helps maintain and strengthen trust and transparency.
Whether on the virtual end or in-office, good leadership is always looking for the next gear regarding growth and sustainability. Remote management can leverage these shifts in mindset and strategy.
Adaptable leadership: Feedback? Who needs feedback? You do. Your team does. The whole company needs feedback to ensure the vision you’re setting forward for your organization is carried out to the best of your abilities, or at least taking action to get there. From the highest levels of leadership and throughout your workforce carrying out their day-to-day responsibilities, valuable input helps, both to boost the positive and solve the negative.
Turn off the tunnel vision: What’s really under the microscope here, hours or results? Typical 9-5s aren’t working, and flexibility is no longer just a desirable corporate perk. It’s a requirement for remote teams to get the expected amount of productivity in a mutually beneficial timeline and schedule. It’s no wonder companies are implementing a 4-day work week or allowing remote employees to enjoy a laptop lifestyle while still delivering quality performance.
Planning for succession: Ideal managers are responsible for building up their teams to fulfill and expand beyond their roles and titles, setting the standard for those yet to come. If virtual managers and organizational leaders want to grow on par with the future of work, interweaving inclusivity into their business goals is an excellent place to start.
Leading virtual teams requires a level of resourcefulness in providing a variety of support for a wide range of both predictable and unpredictable challenges or avenues of improvement. Business leaders can guide their remote managementstyle with these organizational must-haves.
Tech: You may not need a complete digital revolution, but try taking advantage of the different platforms and services that make remote monitoring and work in general more easily managed by remote team leaders. For instance, these productivity tools could be a simple but effective upgrade for your teams.
Training: We’re not all in the office anymore, so good examples to follow or poor examples to avoid are no longer on display. Give your remote teams practice and peace of mind by incorporating checkups and check-ins for tools through refresher courses or mentorship opportunities. Companies can provide even more remote support by encouraging upskilling opportunities.
Team building: Introduce team-building exercises and activities to sharpen skills, improve team collaborations, and boost production. Through projects relying on teamwork, virtual teams can bond regardless of borders or discipline, and companies can further nurture their culture and a shared sense of belonging.
For organizational leaders on the front lines with a digitally equipped workforce, remember that not every employee on any given team will be in the same situation or need the same encouragement when it comes to professional development, so voluntary participation is a strong suggestion.