As the world enters its third year of coexisting with the coronavirus, remote work has flexed its muscles and found a deserving spot in the corporate world. Experts are predicting that remote work will increase into 2023 and beyond. Employees are now embracing work-from-home-or-anywhere situations, probably much more than most employers.
While we may have come to terms with working remotely, some leaders still struggle with managing remote teams. Managers are seeking more help in remote worker management, according to a recent survey conducted by Ten Spot, a workforce engagement platform. Nearly 8 out of 10 managers say they need training to be better managers for remote and hybrid work, and almost half of the managers surveyed find it more difficult to manage people remotely. This may sound a little dismal, but the good news is that most remote leaders are aware of shortcomings in their management style.
Bad management is usually a result of bad habits left unchecked. If you’ve noticed you are exhibiting signs of the below sins, it’s time to avoid these mistakes that are preventing you from remote management success.
Let’s face it, not all of us are equipped with the skills and knowledge for working remotely. It took conglomerates and companies over two years of the pandemic to prepare for the reality of virtual work, and most of us are still work in progress. Training teams for remote work is a priority. Have team members create a list of skills they feel they require to succeed at remote work. This can be anything from Zoom skills to using collaboration or communication channels to personal development. Help your employees close skill gaps to make remote work, work for everyone.
With so many online communication tools available for remote work, managers sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that they are doing a good job of communicating with employees simply because communication tools and apps are in place. They fail to realize that in the absence of physical proximity, regular check-ins or one-on-one interactions are necessary to ensure that team members are aligned on tasks and priorities. Remote work doesn’t mean lesser communication with employees. Frequent and regular communication becomes even more important. Communication need not always revolve around work. Take time to ask about your employees and find out how they are coping in their daily lives.
The world has struggled with trying to deal with a raging pandemic for the past two years and it is more important now than ever to create a safe space where employees can talk about their emotional health and life stressors. Remote managers must take the lead in such conversations by checking in on employees’ well-being and what stresses them. The adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is highly detrimental in a remote work environment. Managers must create social opportunities to connect personally with employees so that they feel supported at work at all times. Engaging external coaches can also greatly support the growth of remote employees. Skilled coaches act as a conduit between employees and managers, providing constructive feedback and training to support dispersed teams and elevate team performance.
Are you one of those managers who constantly checks in on your employees, not to find out how they are doing but, rather, to demand the status of the job at hand? Consider this one of the deadliest sins if you do. As the workplace shifts towards remote working, many managers who thrive on control may experience a loss of control in virtual workplaces. This may result in them not trusting employees to do the job. Micromanaging hinders effective management and worse, undermining your direct reports’ work abilities is akin to saying they are not good enough for their roles.
One’s online presence is a terrible indicator of anyone’s productivity (or presence) in a virtual workplace. If you catch yourself constantly checking the online status of your direct reports, you really ought to be doing something more worthy of your time. Also, it is unreasonable to expect employees to be on ‘standby’ mode all the time simply because they are easily accessible via various communication channels. This creates unnecessary stress and exhaustion for both manager and employee. Managers need to understand the challenges of working from home and create and respect scheduled work hours. Trust that employees can be productive without being constantly monitored.
We understand that working remotely means there are lesser opportunities to get to see your team members. However, that doesn’t mean that every meeting necessitates a video meeting. Zoom fatigue is real, and there is nothing more exhaustive than being on countless virtual “update meetings” amidst a full day of work. Encourage short coffee mornings for updates, or use Slack messaging, emails, or quick calls as more productive alternatives.
Having remote teams doesn’t mean that team building isn’t necessary. When team members aren’t physically together in the same office, team spirit can quickly erode. As a remote team leader, your role is to unify your team and provide opportunities to connect and engage outside of work. Take the effort to know each of your team members personally and create opportunities for everyone to get to know one another. Organize casual, fun activities like fitness challenges, online cooking sessions, meal gatherings, or anything that will ensure everyone has a good time.
Any of these management sins can result in major negative consequences such as toxic work culture, high turnover rate, disengaged teams, and problems attracting and retaining top talent. For remote leaders to successfully manage remote teams, your role is to build the support systems that will help remote teams thrive, with the added assumption that the physical office may never come back.
As the future of work shifts towards hybrid and remote, we highlight key areas to help leaders win at remote work. Check out this article on How To Turn Remote Work Pitfalls Into A Formula For Success
It’s about rethinking traditional employment archetypes. Can we progress from an economy built on full time employment habitually enslaved by unemployment fears, to one where individuals have greater autonomy and are self motivated to do work that inspires them? And as a result, benefit the economy as a whole?
You can’t own full time employees. But you can build a winning team with talent management companies. As businesses demand more, external talents are emerging as the sure forerunners of an agile workforce. At Chance Upon, we partner businesses to get a head start over competition by creating collaborative work between companies and the right talents.
Remote Work Is Here To Stay And Will Increase Into 2023, Experts Say, Forbes (1 Feb 2022)