It's been a year since the unprecedented shift to partial and full remote work setups. And with Vox reporting that 89% of employees prefer working this way, one new challenge is how to continue to replicate office culture and productivity — and foster it even further.
With this challenge in mind, it's best to consider what the company's leadership can do to improve the remote working experience. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Lead differently
You may have gotten used to leading remote teams, but have you been applying the same leadership style online as you did in the office? Since you're no longer able to check in on your employees while waiting by the copy machine, you'll have to go out of your way to become a more visible leader.
This is because there is a bigger burden on remote leaders, as they have to respond to each employee's individual needs. Leaders have to be more mindful about checking in with each employee and making sure that they feel like they are a valuable part of the team.
For starters, try keeping the banter up in the work group chat to foster a sense of closeness within the team. And since you can no longer observe body language, learn how each person communicates online so you can talk with them more personally.
2. Encourage growth
People should never stop learning. Consider setting aside a budget for training in remote skills that are in-demand, such as coding or data analysis. But encourage your employees to learn something for fun, too. Consequently, educated and creative employees are more likely to make better contributions. And don't forget about yourself! Set an example by finding a mentor who can teach you lesser-known tips that will be of great use to you later on.
You can also try taking an online course after work hours. Aside from connecting you with faculty members that can guide you through coursework and real-life management challenges, the online organizational leadership program by Maryville University highlights how further formal education can help arm leaders with skills in critical thinking, collaboration, and human resource management. This allows leaders to be more conscious and critical about things like conflict resolution, communication, and organizational development — areas that an effective leader needs to be adept at.
By taking the time to educate yourself, you can better coach your employees, as well. And with these skills, you're less likely to make costly mistakes in the long run.
3. Foster mental health
With remote work, it's easy to lose that sense of community that was previously so effortless to maintain. In fact, employees are more likely to feel isolated under the remote setup. So make sure to check on your employees often, and be understanding. After all, the remote setup isn't easy for everyone.
Try helping them improve their work-life balance by distributing the workload in amounts that they can confidently tackle given their individual situations. Alternatively, Forbes recommends offering flexible work schedules, given that employees reach a certain quota each day.
4. Keep innovating
You've got all this modern technology at your fingertips, so why not use it to further complement your remote leadership skills? Start with the basics, like video conferencing platform Zoom and instant messaging app Slack, to bring you and your team closer regardless of location. Next, use software to fix areas where employees are underperforming.
If your employees are burning out because they consistently overwork, for example, Hubstaff can help them track their hours and increase awareness of how efficiently they're using their time. And workflow management software Workast is a great tool that can even be integrated with Slack for seamless and effective project management.
5. Believe in yourself
If you have doubts in your remote leadership skills, try to get rid of them. Self-doubt doesn't make for effective leadership, and it can result in your team doubting your capabilities, as well. That's why it's important for any leader to build up the confidence necessary for your team to trust your skills, and that trust needs to start within yourself.
The first step you can take to achieve this is to get rid of that impostor syndrome. You deserve your position, so act like it. Fortunately, impostor syndrome is a sign that you're a perfectionist, so take comfort in the fact that you're more likely to scrutinize your output and work in a way that is deserving of your rank.
Another thing you can do is to self-coach yourself with some positive affirmations.
Remind yourself that you're here to make a difference in the world, but remember to recognize your mistakes and commit to learning from them.
This helps put a positive spin on acts that lead to mistakes or failure, and serves as a healthy form of self-criticism with which you can better yourself each day.
Finally, be open to criticism from your employees. Most feedback is likely to be constructive, and will help foster a more open and productive working environment, as workers will know they can approach you to resolve issues that are affecting their output.
Finally, though you're working to make your employees trust you, trust is a two-way street, so stop micromanaging! Doing so actually causes unnecessary stress and even lowers morale and productivity. Instead, recognize that you can't do it all. These employees were hired for a reason: They're competent. Give them clear goals to work toward, believe in their skills, and let yourself be surprised by where they take you!
In the end, as our Head of Growth Sara Davis previously wrote, "you'll create stronger bonds with your employees that can only do your company good".
This is a guest post written by Jace Valerie, exclusively for Workast.