While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an all-time high of employees telecommuting, remote work had previously been growing steadily, and likely will continue to expand in the coming years. While many of the same principles of leading effective teams remain in place, organizations can take steps to ensure that remote teams are performing at a high level and employees are feeling engaged in their remote roles.
Challenges of Leading Remote Teams
Managers should be prepared to face a set of challenges that are unique to remote teams. According to the Harvard Business Review, challenges remote employees face include:
Managers should acknowledge these challenges and develop solutions to help employees overcome them and take advantage of the potential benefits of working remotely.
Effectively leading remote teams begins with defining objectives and creating clear plans to attain them. By outlining details of roles, responsibilities, timelines and expectations, employees will feel less stressed about what’s expected of them. To best lead remote teams, leaders can consider the following practices:
As employers consider how scheduled meetings, virtual events and new technologies can be introduced, managers can also think about how they can best support their teams as a resource. An effective management strategy should include offering emotional support and providing encouragement to both individuals and teams. Asking open-ended questions to employees will allow them to speak their minds, and managers should focus on being good listeners. While it may be easy for a manager to pick up on social queues in the office, even the most effective leaders remain more distant in the remote environment. While these challenges persist, being intentional about providing support to employees can help remove any barriers.
While, in some cases, remote work is being adopted out of necessity, many employees feel confident in their abilities to fulfill their roles remotely. The Harris Poll conducted a survey on behalf of Glassdoor among nearly 1,000 employed adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results indicated that 60% feel confident in doing their job efficiently from home, even if it means doing so indefinitely. The same survey also revealed that 50% believe they would be equally or more productive working remotely.
When utilized effectively, remote work can provide advantages for both employers and employees. These can often include:
Remote work presents advantages and challenges to the way companies do business. With increased utilization of telecommuting, employers can plan ahead for how they can best accommodate remote teams and increase productivity.