How to Be an Effective Leader While Working Remotely

It was a shock to the system for many when businesses across the world closed their doors toward the beginning of the 2020 and sent their employees to work from home. Since then, many companies have already chosen to extend work-from-home orders indefinitely. This “new normal” has been tricky to navigate, particularly for those trying to effectively lead teams and boost morale without the typical level of day-to-day interaction with which they are familiar. While the struggle is real, there are also many simple ways for leaders to maintain the integrity of their roles, even though their settings may have changed significantly.

Be Accessible
If you’re a leader, now more than ever before, make sure you’re available. Just as you are trying to find your footing, so are your employees. Be proactive about creating regularly scheduled check-in times where you can better understand the individual struggles each of your team members may be facing. Be willing to brainstorm with your employees and offer potential solutions to the unique problems they are experiencing.

Be Flexible & Understanding
Working from home presents an entirely new set of obstacles that many employees may not have been prepared for. Those with families, for example, might be sharing their time between trying to get their workload accomplished and helping their children with virtual learning. Nobody was prepared for a pandemic to hit, so try to be patient, flexible and understanding with each of your employees.

Utilize Technology
One of the hardest parts of working from home is the disconnection your employees might be feeling. They are used to sharing a space with their colleagues and being able to frequently brainstorm in groups. Make sure that your entire team has access to a variety of technologies that will make their jobs easier and help them to stay in touch. Microsoft Teams is a great tool to help you do that, offering individual and group chats, calls, team meetings, and more.

Provide Technological Support
Let’s face it, in many instances more technology equates to more challenges. To minimize the level of frustration your team is experiencing, make sure they have access to either in-house or contracted tech support. It’s also important to make sure you, as their team leader, fully understand how to use the technological tools your company is implementing.

Be Organized
Make sure that pertinent files or information that your employees may need to access is easily available and shareable. The use of OneDrive or Dropbox can keep your entire team on the same page, by having shared files in one place, even if you aren’t in the same building.

Showcase Trust
It is going to be very difficult to know exactly what your employees are doing at every moment. Trying to micro-manage them as they work from home will only serve to frustrate both yourself and them. Instead, focus on trusting that their integrity is intact and they will do the jobs they are assigned to do. It will not take long to determine whether certain employees are slacking and, if and when that moment comes, you can address it with that person individually and make adjustments as necessary.

Set Clear Goals
Give your team members clear and concise goals and deadlines. Let them know exactly what is expected of them. Break bigger projects down into smaller tasks so they can organize their own time accordingly and still meet the standards expected of them. Make sure everybody involved in a project is included in all correspondence so your team members can also help to hold one another accountable.

Encourage Socialization
Most employees get the majority of their socialization through their workplace. Suddenly being isolated from their colleagues can have a huge detrimental effect on morale and productivity. To prevent this from happening, make sure you are scheduling time throughout the week where your employees can socialize and interact more freely. Schedule 15-minute video “brain break” chats where employees can choose to drop in and catch up with their coworkers about things other than work. Encourage your employees to hold breakout meetings on their own to support one another in areas where they may need it.

Be Receptive to Feedback
Lastly, don’t expect everything to go perfectly right away. Learning to work effectively in an entirely different environment will take a bit of time for everybody. Notice what’s working and what doesn’t seem to be going so well and make adjustments as necessary. Ask your employees and team members for regular and honest feedback so that you can all work together to create a “new normal” that works efficiently and easily for your business.

Eric Northbrook | Managing Director
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