Over the past two years, most organizations allowed their employees to work remotely in order to get things done amidst lockdown restrictions. However, many businesses and leaders are struggling with this trend. Adaptation is going to be essential as 74% of companies are shifting some of their employees to remote work permanently. When managing a team of remote workers, knowing how to lead this team is essential to ensure business continuity and success. These are a few of the most essential skills leaders need to successfully manage employees virtually.
Some employees are going to become less engaged, and some may take a more laidback approach when working remotely, so a good leader needs to have the appropriate monitoring tools in place. This may be different in every workplace, but many leaders are setting up weekly catch-up calls or frequent team meetings. Regardless of how this is done, the virtual leader needs to stay in contact with the entire team and know what they’re working on, how projects are going, any obstacles in the workplace, and what they need to succeed. Offer availability as well to help employees feel like their relationship with you is valued. Simple tools such as Teams and Skype can be used to create an in-person connection.
Understand Technology and Its Barriers
If your team is mostly made up of younger employees, they may not struggle in this area. However, most teams are going to have a mix of young and old, and tech-savvy and tech-challenged employees. When working remotely. The platforms and methods used to do tasks may not be easy to master or comprehend. When introducing a new technology or system, leaders need to be able to understand it themselves. Being able to pick up on technology is only half of the battle though. They also need to be able to communicate to their team how to use these tools or provide them with the appropriate training resources. The skill needed here is a mix of understanding technology and being sensitive to any staff that may be struggling. In individual meetings, it is essential to encourage openness about any technological problems that may occur.
Understand Legal Rights and Processes
When working with a remote team, you may think that many legal problems go away, but instead they often become more challenging. For example, the workers compensation claims process is one that may be more challenging. If employees are injured while performing a work-related task outside the office, you’ll need to understand the process and how to navigate this. If unsure, meet with your HR team and obtain basic training. You may also want to consult a lawyer that specializes in work injury claims in order to be better informed. By having this information handy, you’ll be able to address employee rights.
Many employees may struggle with knowing what comes next when working remotely. Digital leaders need to develop the skills to make decisions even when presented with incomplete information. You should be able to figure out possible outcomes of business decisions and have a contingency plan in place. For example, have a written schedule or timeline that’s shared with each person. Use file-sharing to upload each person’s progress so you’ll know exactly how the process is going.
While it’s best to encourage organizational excellence, working remotely is going to come with some challenges. Encourage an environment of openness, and communicate in case there’s a problem. Let your team know that there will be no consequences or retaliation if they need to speak out about certain factors that are making their jobs impossible or difficult to do. This will allow you to address small problems before they grow and retrain staff as needed.
Keep in mind that managing teams virtually can be a challenge even for the most seasoned leader. Be patient through the process and work on developing the core skills needed to succeed. When you’re able to build and support a strong team, they’ll be able to work both in-person and remotely.