Managing a remote workforce isn’t easy. Whether your team is temporarily working from home due to COVID-19 or is always remote, effectively leading a group of people who aren’t in the same physical location is very different from a traditional managerial role — but you can do it.
The best leaders understand the need to adapt to different situations, so they’re able to take core management practices and apply them in a manner that works for their team. Here’s some advice to help you lead from afar.
Five Tips to Effectively Manage a Remote Workforce
Just as you would in a traditional work environment, getting employees on the same page is a must. This includes everything from daily expected output to work hours. Employees can’t read your mind, so you need to set clear ground rules. When people know what you want from them, they’re able to adjust their behavior accordingly.
Make Communication Easy
Communication is the key to every successful team, but that can be difficult in a remote setting. Make it easy for employees to connect by requiring everyone to stay logged into a specified chat program — i.e., Slack, Google Hangouts — during standard work hours. This makes it easy for people to quickly connect with one another.
Conduct Videoconferencing Check-Ins
There’s no substitute for face-to-face communication. Thankfully, videoconferencing tools make this easy from anywhere. Large group meetings on these platforms can be tricky, but they’re great for one-on-ones. Use videoconferencing regularly to catch up with employees and establish — or maintain, if you’re usually working together in an office — a connection.
Even in a standard office environment, all employees don’t typically need to hold the same work hours. Everyone might need to overlap several hours of the day or attend certain meetings, but give people more autonomy for tasks completed independently. As long as they’re doing quality work and meeting deadlines, there’s no need to hold people to the same rigid schedule.
Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Your employees work from home, but that doesn’t mean they should have to be available 24-7. Don’t be a boss who texts employees on weekends and late at night, because that’s invasive. When people lack a solid work-life balance, they achieve burnout and resent their jobs. Avoid this by keeping all requests and communication to standard work hours, when at all possible.
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