Remote leadership used to be a skill that leaders had to only use occasionally with certain members of their team. Telecommuting has grown to be more than just a perk in recent times, however, and leaders have had to adapt as quickly as their employees to the new normal. Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to still manage productivity and maintain morale during these unprecedented times.
The first rule of managing a team that you aren’t physically interacting with is to maintain communication. There are several reasons for this. One reason is to convey consistently to your team members what your expectations are and what they should be doing on a daily basis in order to avoid veering off that path. Another reason is there is an innate sense of isolation that comes from social distancing and it’s important to regularly check in with your team to make sure everyone is doing ok.
Fortunately, in this age of technological advances, we have what it takes to make it almost seem as if we are still at the office, albeit a virtual one. Make sure to take advantage of all the free resources that exist for collaboration and for video messaging. It is not enough to call or email or send text messages. It is vital to also hold video face-to-face meetings to retain the human connection that people are lacking during this period.
In addition to setting expectations and goals for your team, it’s also a two-way street. Now more than ever, it’s important for you as a leader to show your empathetic side and to be flexible. Your employees have other struggles in addition to working remotely. Be sure to emphasize your open door policy and give your team the confidence to be able to approach you with problems or concerns that might affect their project deadlines or morale in general.
Speaking of problems, it benefits the entire company if you encourage team members to be proactive with their issues. The sooner a problem is handled, the less likely it is to escalate or potentially impact the revenue of the business. Reward people who find mistakes or who stand out for going above and beyond their regular responsibilities. Public praise goes a long way and people need validation.