In today’s digital age, the number of full and part-time remote employees is increasing. Remote work is more convenient for employees, cheaper for employers, and opens up the available talent pool. However, it can be a daunting challenge for leaders who want to unite and engage their teams.
The good news is that just because you manage remote employees doesn’t mean you can’t still inspire them from afar! There are ways to keep the team together, even if you’re scattered across the country—or even across the globe.
Ditch the ‘remote’ label – an employee is an employee
While you might not see them in person daily, it’s important to remember that your employees are employees, regardless of where they do their work. If you want to be an inspiring leader, you need to treat remote workers as if they were local.
You can make remote employees feel more included by providing as much access to you as possible. They should feel comfortable coming to you when they need help, despite the distance. You might even consider hosting the occasional remote “mixer” over video chat to help your employees feel more like a team.
Study the habits of tech leaders who came before you
Remote work may be a fairly new concept, but enough tech leaders have given it a try at this point that you have lots of examples to learn from and emulate. Many of the world’s most successful leaders are more than happy to share their expertise and often participate in lectures and interviews, which you can find online. Take the initiative and study the habits of today’s most prominent leaders—find out how they manage their remote teams and inspire them to do their best work.
Look for advice from leaders who have managed both local and remote teams, like Angela Ahrendts, who was the head of retail at Apple for five years. Pulling together employees from all over the globe, Ahrendts was able to create a consistent, luxury feel at Apple stores around the globe. If you have both local and remote employees, it’s especially important to learn from leaders who have managed to unite the two into one cohesive team working toward the same goals.
Harness the power of effective emails and digital communication
When you can’t talk to someone face to face, you have to turn to other methods of communication. Chat programs, like Slack, are popular among remote teams for day-to-day communication, with email and video chat also playing a key role in more formal team discussions. While these are amazing tools that make remote work possible, they can’t replace human skills that facilitate good communication.
Although most people like to think that they know how to communicate across all channels, the reality isn’t always so rosy. Communication using digital methods isn’t always easy and can lead to misunderstandings, which cost organizations approximately $5200 per year, per employee. For remote teams, the stakes are even higher, since it’s not possible to meet in person and clear up those misunderstandings.
Because of this, leaders need to understand the importance of communication and the unique challenges of communicating with others remotely. Every leader needs to have excellent business communication skills in the digital age, especially those who oversee remote teams. If you want to inspire your team and boost productivity, then it’s important to ensure that your email and chat communications are clear and effective. You should always be working to improve your skills in this area—no one is a perfect communicator!
Schedule regular one-on-ones
It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re working remotely. Your employees need feedback to thrive, and it’s important to make that feedback as structured, constructive, and positive as possible. Leaders of remote teams should commit to monthly, if not weekly, one-on-one meetings with team members.
Regular meetings not only allow you to communicate good and bad feedback, but they also allow you to connect with each employee and create a sense of unity. When remote employees aren’t treated like “regular” employees, they may feel less engaged and less productive. Regular meetings keep that unity on everyone’s mind and help to ensure that the entire team is working toward their individual and collective goals.
Your mindset matters
As a leader, your mindset and attitude matter. It sets the tone for the mood of the entire team. If you start managing a remote team and feel apprehensive about your ability to inspire and motivate your team, you may very well run into trouble.
There are going to be some bumps along the way. But if you approach your new responsibility with a positive outlook and ensure that you’re available for your employees, no matter where they’re working, you’ll be off to a good start.
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for many startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology, and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.
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