Gallup reports that 70% of US employees stated they were working from home at least partially in May. This number surged from 7% prior to the pandemic. Needless to say, with teams spread out remotely, leading the workplace has changed dramatically in the last few months.
Today, success with a remote workforce depends a lot on your employees, but predominantly, it depends on your leadership skills in managing a remote team. While we know you have been working on this for a while now, we thought we would share five tips to continue employee engagement and encourage higher productivity.
- Communicate. Schedule regular times to check in with your team and individual members, whether there's an urgent reason to talk or not. In an office, a lot of communication happens when people happen to bump into each other. People wither when they feel ignored. Remote work means building in those opportunities to chat.
- Provide the right tools and tech support. Now that time has passed since you began remote work, are there additional tools or technology solutions that could make things even more efficient? Ask your team for feedback. Gartner Inc. reports that two-thirds of employees they surveyed indicate spending in excess of five hours a week trying to deal with tech issues.
- Respect their time. If it is after regular work hours, think twice about reaching out to someone. Being at home shouldn't mean being constantly on call. Your employees need a sense of consistency and balance. Also, if you have employees that are spread out geographically, remember to schedule meetings that are reasonable for everyone; a 7 a.m. meeting might make sense for most, but not for all employees. A polling tool like Doodle could help.
- Give them opportunities to shine. Your team members want critique, suggestions, and opportunities to discuss new ideas with you. They need learning opportunities to feel truly engaged. While it may be more difficult these days to have career development conversations, it is important that your team knows you still see their accomplishments and reward them appropriately.
- Help them manage the new normal. The pandemic has meant big changes and sometimes added responsibilities for many people. Help your teams manage their time, track projects, handle distractions, and adjust when needed amid the shifting landscape. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Business & Psychology showed that teams valued the leadership traits of helpfulness and reliability in a remote environment over those of confidence and charm, often found in an office environment.
As we find ourselves past the six months' mark in the pandemic, remote work continues to be a part of the business fabric. While we know that you have risen to the leadership challenges created during these times, we hope these five tips come in handy now and again.