What to Do When Leading a Remotely Working Team
For a big part of the world, remote work is no stranger anymore because of the COVID-19 crisis. However, working remotely has been becoming more and more popular for the past couple of years, so it was already quite popular even before the crisis began. In a survey conducted by IBM, researchers found that more than half of the employees want remote work as their primary type, and 75% answered that they would like to work remotely, at least part-time.
Many employees have wanted a remote job, but the employers haven’t been so keen on that. Why is that, and what are the fundamental things required for it to work? That is what we’re going to find out today. Read more: Top Mistakes When Leading a Remotely Working Team.
“The guiding principles of leadership are the same regardless of whether the team is located under one roof or geographically dispersed. The real question is how do you take the best part of managing an office team and translate that into a remote environment?” – Brie Reynolds, senior careers specialist at FlexJobs.
As you could imagine, one of the most important things to do is to get everyone on the team on the same page. And this is very important not only at the beginning of a project but it should be repeated throughout the whole project, so that no one would get lost somewhere in the middle. You and your team need to share the same vision and expectations for the goal you want to achieve, so the team has to get to know each other to work as a whole.
The team manager should follow these guidelines to successfully organize the team’s work:
- Clearly instruct every team member of their accountability
- Create a timetable for every task and project
- Follow the progress of the employees
- Don’t put the blame on anyone’s shoulders if a deadline is missed.
Read more: How to do Team-building Remotely.
“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.” – Mark Sanborn, Author
If your employees are working from home, there’s less communication between co-workers. At home, there are plenty of distractions that could keep their mind preoccupied with work. These are the reasons why it’s extremely necessary to support and frequently contact them, so they wouldn’t feel left out of the organization/company. These are just a few examples of inclusion:
- Structured daily check-ins
- Different communication options
- Opportunities for remote social interaction
- Encouragement and emotional support
In the research about the last given advice, it is found that employees look up to their employers as role models. So, for example, if there’s an unpleasant situation and the leader feels stressed or anxious, it will transfer the same effect on employees. That’s why you should encourage and motivate your team by telling them “We can do it” and keeping up a good spirit during the work. 
Some employers are scared that employees working from home won’t be able to do the same amount of tasks as in a work environment, and that’s why many don’t prefer this kind of work. However, a study by Bloom shows that when employees worked from home 1 day a week, their productivity increased by about 13%, and, similarly, it happened when they spent 4 days at home. The increase in efficiency was very surprising to everyone involved. So it is safe to say that employees are more productive when they’re in their preferred environment, but a crucial role in this kind of work is the manager’s because every aspect has to be well executed for it to be successful. 
“You can never over-communicate enough as a leader at a company, but at a remote company, nothing could be truer. Because you don’t physically see people in-person, information doesn’t spread in the same way, so leaders need to do the heavy lifting for evangelizing the message.” — Claire Lew, Know Your Team