Though once thought to be inconceivable, the reality of remote work environments is becoming a more dominant trend every day. Workers are not only experiencing heightened productivity but are also recognizing that working from home is a viable option for professionals in almost all industries.
In this time of remote work, business leaders must strive to continue providing their teams with the leadership, guidance, and support they need. Managing people who may be hundreds of miles away can seem daunting – but with the right strategy, professionals can successfully adapt to this new type of leadership and workplace dynamic.
Finding the right methods for keeping your remote staff focused, motivated, and productive is crucial. In this article, I will discuss the relationship between leadership and remote work, as well as provide key insights and considerations for how to best manage and lead remote staff.
The Growing Preference for Remote Work
Since the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work options have only grown in popularity – especially for professionals whose work is largely digital and computer-oriented.
According to a 2021 report from Gartner, an estimated 51 percent of all knowledge workers (professionals who handle and manage information) globally will be working remotely by the end of 2021. This report from Gartner further reveals that roughly 32 percent of all employees worldwide will work remotely by the end of 2021.
As the preference for work from home environments only continues to increase, business leaders must consider how to effectively coach and manage their teams through digital and remote channels.
Key Considerations for Managing Remote Staff
In a traditional office setting, business leaders can work side-by-side with their staff, with many opportunities to provide feedback and check-ins in person. Additionally, staff can collaborate more easily in person compared to having to schedule virtual meetings.
These are the types of factors you need to keep in mind when considering how to best lead your team remotely. As you work to develop a leadership style that is well-suited for supporting remote workers, there are 3 main considerations to keep in mind:
- Focus: When working from home, many distractions can steal away the attention of your employees. Keeping your team’s focus on track remotely is highly dependent on a leader’s ability to provide staff with the resources and guidance needed to create an effective home office space.
- Motivation: For many of us, motivation at work is often enhanced and inspired by the ambitious and creative peers around us. Working from home eliminates this in-person connection. As a result, leaders must provide more virtual opportunities for staff members to communicate and collaborate, enabling them to feed off of each other’s motivation from afar.
- Productivity: In remote work environments, goal setting is key. Leading a remote business team can often be a lot more hands-off compared to managing staff in an office. As such, there must be clear objectives and timeframes given to heighten productivity and better measure overall team success.
Offering Remote Staff the Right Support
For business leaders to boost the focus, motivation, and productivity of their remote staff, the key is to offer the proper resources and support needed to thrive in a remote environment. This includes:
- Encouraging a Healthy Work-Life Balance: Working from home makes it easy to blur the lines between work and rest hours. To avoid burnout and maximize motivation, it is essential to encourage your team to follow a set routine that provides adequate time for rest and self-care.
- Conducting Effective Feedback Sessions: As mentioned, leading remotely can feel more hands-off and goal-oriented. This means that the feedback sessions and meetings you do have need to be as effective as possible. A strong feedback session should always include an overview of an employee’s achievements, identifying areas for improvement, and opening the floor for any employee concerns or complaints to be voiced.
- Enabling Hybrid Work Environments: There are no set-in-stone rules when it comes to remote work. Every employee is different and will have unique needs from the next. This means that some staff will want to stay remote, while others will want to return to the office. As such, enabling a hybrid work environment wherein employees can come work at the office on certain days if they prefer to is key.
Remote work environments may have surged in popularity due to the pandemic, but their advantages for both businesses and employees have solidified their place as a permanent strategy for business leaders to take.
From a leadership perspective, remote work is not without challenges. The key is to consider your employees’ individual needs and work together to figure out what support and guidance is needed for maximum productivity and job satisfaction.