It was supposed to be temporary. A pandemic response that would allow organizations to keep their lights on and their employees paid. But, nearly two-and-a-half years on, it’s clear that flexible and remote work isn’t just an aberration; it’s a new working model that’s here to stay.
The FlexJobs 10th Annual Survey found that 44% of respondents say they know at least one person who has quit or is planning to quit because their employers are requiring them to work from the office. The same survey also revealed that 24% of workers say the ability to work from home is so important to them that they are willing to take a 10-20% pay cut to work remotely, and 21% would give up some vacation time.
As more people shift to a remote or hybrid work model, there’s a good chance you’ll be tasked with managing remote or hybrid employees either some or all of the time (if you’re not already).
Being a remote manager requires many of the same skills as being an in-office manager. However, there’s nuances to serving, leading, and guiding a remote team. While remote work offers numerous benefits for both you and your employees, it presents a few challenges for team leaders that will require significant changes in attitude and behavior.
To help you overcome these obstacles and ensure you and your employees are working effectively from anywhere, we’ve put together some considerations for being an effective remote manager.
The first step in being an effective remote manager to your team is understanding the need for a mindset shift to best support them. Mastering an effective mindset starts with examining your fundamental beliefs about your current working model and the people you manage.
It’s important to acknowledge that you are – well – human! Just like the employees you lead, you’re likely dealing with your own uncertainties and distractions. And that’s okay. Taking care of your mental health and well-being is a crucial component of helping your remote employees take care of theirs. Focusing on yourself helps you reframe how you’re thinking about working with your teams – they’re counting on you to model a mindset of determination and togetherness.
The biggest difference between managing a remote team versus an in-person team is…wait for it…communication. When it comes to communication, there’s one form that is more popular than others in remote teams: writing.
This is a change from the usual in-office behavior that relies on face-to-face interactions and the proverbial watercooler. And many managers are now utilizing videoconferencing to try and replace the quick in-person chats; however, overuse is contributing to burnout. How many Zoom meetings have you created just to ask a question? Or find out the progress on a project?
Rethink your approach to communications and ask yourself – can this be an email or a quick IM? Switch your strategy from “speak first” to “write first” and be intentional about social connection. It will help your teams avoid burnout and enhance their well-being.
Third, take time to examine the beliefs you have about your team to ensure you’re leading in ways that support their success in a virtual environment. Make a list of helpful manager mantras that embody beliefs like trust, support, and teamwork – and then lead with behaviors that reflect these beliefs back to your team.
Here are some essential mantras to get you started.
Behavior to reflect this mindset: We know people do their best work when they feel safe, and ensuring your team feels safe takes extra care during periods of uncertainty. In fact, 84% of knowledge workers believe trust and psychological safety is important. Find ways to lead with trust and empathy as you weather challenges together. A great example: welcome a child that appears in the background during a video call…have them say hi to the team. Allowing space for humanity helps your team know that you see them as the whole people they are, and creates an environment where employees can — and want — to do their best work.
Behavior to reflect this mindset: Shift your energy and attention to activities that will produce the greatest output. Great managers will be a driving force in removing roadblocks to improve productivity. This may mean reevaluating your team members skills and interests and aligning work to that. Remember to give everyone a full picture of why something is being done and consistently check for workload overload and re-balance if needed. Create a feedback loop for everyone to understand what they’re doing well, what could be improved, and how you can help. Prioritize tasks and set clear, written expectations of what everyone is working on.
Behavior to reflect this mindset: It’s time to trust your people and embrace an asynchronous work style. Your team will likely be working across distributed time zones and around various personal and professional needs. Don’t make assumptions about productivity based on your perceptions of the time they are spending at their computer. Understand that the way your team is working likely looks a lot different now, and allow plenty of time for planning ahead, making decisions, and giving good direction and feedback.
Evolving your mindset as a remote manager will take continuous, conscious self-examination and a personal commitment to shifting how you fundamentally think about work and leading people.
There’s never been a better time for managers to upskill for today’s modern workforce. Bean immersive, facilitated learning experience that equips teams of managers with the mindset and capabilities to unleash the potential of their people and lead engaged, high-performing teams.