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Leading a Remote Workforce: A Guide for Managers

  • Publish Date: Posted about 4 years ago
  • Author: Taylor Varco

Today, business leaders everywhere are telling their employees to take their laptops home and set up remote working stations. Our workforce has been preparing for this. The nation has been slowly moving to more temporary and remote workers for years. Today’s managers must be prepared to lead hybrid teams of onsite and offsite members, who may be working outside the office or located in different time zones. 

To meet the challenges of managing a dispersed team, leaders must be intentional in their approach to communication and continue best practices of coaching employees. 

Keep up Individualization 

Unfortunately, a one-size-fits all approach may seem efficient, but it won’t bring you success in the long-run. The best managers always individualize their coaching to the employee, however understandably, doing so from a distance can be tough. Ask each of your employees the conditions they perform best, their concerns about workflow, and their emotional response to situations. Playing to your employee's strengths, and understanding how they operate, will help complete projects with efficiency and drive business growth. 

Practice What You Preach 

Everyone knows, great attitudes and work ethics start at the top and trickle down. Keep your promises, maintain relationships, and if you are setting specific guidelines for your employees to follow, be sure you are practicing them yourself. 

Set Expectations Early and Clearly 

According to Gallop, nearly half of Americans, both remote and not, don’t know what’s expected of them at work. When dealing with a majority remote workforce, managers must be crystal clear on their expectations. Do you expect your employees to check-in at certain points in the day? Do you require certain metrics or projects to be complete by a certain time? Leaders should provide high-level expectations that align with the company’s purpose. The more detailed you can be, the better. 

Leaning on Technology 

Fulfilling certain expectations requires the right equipment and information. Employees certainly have more alone time to complete solo work when working remotely, what can fall flat is teamwork and collaboration. This depends on leaders fostering a collaborative environment and the necessary Techology to make it happen. According to research from University of California professor Judith Olson, the most successful remote work situations are those in which workers have similar work styles, know and like each other, have technology that allows them to collaborate, and know how to use that technology. 

Communication is Key 

This may seem like a no-brainer, but communication with an entire remote workforce is easier said than done. Employees who are used to working in the office might feel cut off from resources, information, or relationships that keep them doing their job well. Plan on having more conference calls, and don’t feel bad for allowing additional time for socialization. Managers need to be diligent about communicating productivity, having frequent conversations, and keeping morale up. Your employees need to hear from you to maintain trust in their job, the company, and to be reminded of the Bigger Picture.