Thanks to advanced technologies, changing corporate policies, and the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work is becoming more common, and popular, than ever before. According to Gallup, 91% of workers in the U.S. working at least some of their hours remotely are hoping their ability to work at home persists after the pandemic; 54% of employees who work remotely at least some of the time say they would ideally like to split their time between working at home and in the office. As more people shift to a remote or hybrid work model, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually be tasked with managing remote employees either some or all of the time (if you’re not already).
Being a remote manager requires many of the same skills that you may have acquired in-office; however, there are nuances to serving, leading, and guiding a remote team. While remote work offers numerous benefits for both you and your employees, it can present 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 how your mindset may need to shift in order to best support them. Mastering an effective mindset starts with examining your fundamental beliefs about both the current pandemic situation, and the people you manage.
It’s important to acknowledge that managers are…well, human! Just like the employees you lead, you’re likely dealing with your own uncertainties and distractions. If you’re struggling, read our guiding principles for leaders during a physically distant, socially connected time to help 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 many managers are now utilizing videoconferencing to try and replace the quick in-person chats; however, overuse of 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.
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.