HR Management

Tips to enhance remote leadership in 2021

Remote working in the first half of 2020 began almost as a compulsion. The pandemic brought sudden changes to how we work and communicate as it forced a major portion of the workforce to operate remotely. While a majority of time was devoted to organizing and finding a rhythm to working, things have relatively settled down now forcing the management to focus on engagement activities and strengthening remote working policies. While it is preferable to establish clear remote-working guidelines, in times of crisis, or during such unprecedented times, a high level of preparedness is not always feasible. 

77% of the workforce wants to continue working from home, at least once a week even after the pandemic is over. 

This figure shows that remote work is here to stay. Lack of distractions, no time being wasted on commuting to the office, increased work-life balance, has contributed to the popularity and further adoption of remote working. Therefore, the management and HR department needs to devise strategies that strengthen remote leadership techniques and boosts productivity levels in the organization. With the passage of time, some research-based strategies have emerged that aid managers to take specific steps without putting in a great effort to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees.

To make remote-working easy for employees, managers need to understand the common challenges that workers encounter on a daily basis. There are several factors that can make remote working severely demanding dipping the performance of even high-performing employees. 

Some of the top challenges include:

  1. Lack of face-to-face interaction
  2. Lack of access to relevant information
  3. Distractions at home
  4. Social isolation due to the pandemic
  5. Lack of communication with peers

Source: Buffer

A few tips that you can consider as a manager to ensure seamless remote working and improve remote leadership qualities include:

  • Schedule regular check-ins

It is important to stay in touch with employees and schedule your interactions with them. It might seem like overkill but is highly beneficial in the long run. With the lack of face-to-face interaction, employees are already reeling under a lot of duress. Managers can schedule calls through video-conferencing tools to foster communication and a sense of togetherness. With this, employees can also share their work status and communicate their pain points, etc. It is an important move to ensure that employees remain engaged and also shows that management is empathetic to the employee’s needs and work styles. Any organization that does not have a people-first policy, is likely to lose out on the good and hard-working employees.

  • Communicate effectively

Moving further from the regular check-ins, it is essential to over-communicate the team’s tasks, expected outcomes, discuss problems and possible solutions to them. Lack of communication in a normal workplace can already be a challenge- add to it the situation of employees working remotely, and things can become really stressful if not handled adeptly. Communication or dialogue should be two-way that fosters engagement. Effective two-way communication between colleagues or the management empowers the employees with relevant information, enables them to present their emotions and share viewpoints and focus on each aspect of the work. It allows each employee to express openly and be in better control over their emotions. Managers should understand the social implications of the pandemic and how difficult it is now to manage even mundane tasks and its implication on mental health. 

  • Equip employees

One of the first tasks to ensure that employees perform optimally is to equip them with the right resources. Without the technology that they need to succeed, employees will face more roadblocks that will lead to poor results and flopped projects. Acknowledge that remote working is different-and each employee might require a different set of tools to properly meet organizational goals. A well-functioning laptop, with wifi-connection, headphones, resources to set up a proper work station at home are some of the pre-requisites of seamless remote working. Virtual communication can be difficult for some to master- coach them on effective practices to make the process smooth and effective. Set the team up for success by equipping them with the necessary tools required for the dissemination of their duties. 

  • Trust employees

Mentor more than you manage and exhibit a sense of trust in your employees. The best thing that a manager can do during these times is to suspend disbelief and trust employees to do what is right for the organization.  The lack of constant visibility and monitoring might be difficult in remote working leading to frustration and micromanagement. The best managers in the organization coach and mentor employees more than they manage. Even while we are in the middle of ambiguity and complexity, managers should deploy strategies that focus on granting the required independence to employees to manage their jobs. For some, it would require the conditioning to break that focuses on micromanaging employees by monitoring their every move. Instead, adopt practices that help the employee to grow and thrive in their respective roles.

  • Focus on the final outcome rather than the process 

As an efficient manager, it is important to focus on the final outcome of the job rather than the process. It increases engagement and empowers employees to take further initiative. Communicate the project, project expectations, and expected outcomes to the employees, and let them plan the rest. This allows resources to be more creative and compels them to take ownership of their work. Be there to guide them through the process, equip them with the right tools, and encourage them to excel. In the remote landscape, with people juggling multiple tasks together, it is important to grant them the freedom to complete tasks accordingly with some leeway that does not overburden them. Schedule collaboration with teammates at a mutually agreeable time and leverage the competence of virtual tools whenever possible.

  • Check on the well-being of your employees

During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder.

The pandemic has served a massive blow to the emotional and mental well-being of the employees. The social isolation coupled with the uncertainty of the entire situation has made people jittery. As the physical and emotional distance between people increases, it becomes harder to check on the well-being of others. Utilize every opportunity to communicate to people that the organization is supporting them and is empathetic to their needs. With the latest technology and video-conferencing tools, it is now easier to check on employees working remotely.  During these turbulent times, the assurance of the leadership boosts confidence and empowers employees to achieve better results.

Each of the above tips is definitely not easy to master. Practice flexibility, foster an environment of growth and innovation and reward employees for their work. The organization will benefit greatly from such leadership practices and succeed in achieving organizational goals.

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