This Is How Leaders Can Make the Best of Remote Working

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Distance work is no longer a temporary solution or a means to an end. Now it is our reality. Learning how to create efficient, reliable and committed teams in a virtual world is more important than ever. When GoodHire surveyed 3,500 U.S. workers about the state of remote work, they found that employees would give up benefits such as wage increases and job benefits to continue working from home. In fact, 68% said they would prefer remote work rather than office work.

So what does this mean for leaders? Many are adopting new strategic ways of thinking when using equipment.

Socially, a lot is lost when employees work from home: the talk of cold water that helps employees bond and drinks after work are rare is lost. And we also lose aspects of our work: team spirit can dissolve if employees only communicate virtually, and many typically only talk to those they work with directly. There is less accidental contact.

Some employees suffer from loneliness while working from home or struggling to reconcile work and family life, affecting their productivity and performance. That’s why leaders are instilling new ways of working that focus on building the trust of a team that works remotely. Here’s how they do it:

Related: The value of flexible management in the age of distance work

Do a routine of mutual trust

Over the past two years, we’ve often heard horror stories of companies demanding that their employees make video calls of more than eight hours to monitor their work habits. Or employees who have been afraid to leave their desk even for a few minutes in case their manager thinks they are slack. This constant monitoring is not good for anyone and sends the message to your employees that you don’t trust them.

It’s better to set expectations for your team than you expect them to achieve on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and trust that they will. Make sure everyone is clear about how you want them to work remotely, how often you want to communicate throughout the day, and how best to do so. Focus on your results rather than day-to-day activity. Micromanagement will not be beneficial to anyone.

Encourage honesty and transparency

Assumptions are often made when it comes to remote work. Without these visual cues of body language, messages can seem abrasive or blunt when they have never been thought that way.

Employees need to be taught and encouraged to “never take on”. If they detect an unusual tone in an email or message, remind them to always follow up with a clarifying question or video chat to make sure everything is fine. Sometimes, as a leader, this means listening even closer than usual and reading between the lines to understand your peers ’feelings if it’s hard for them to open up.

A balance of email and video chats, and face-to-face meetings should be expected in the workplace when possible. Having this variety will ensure that no mode of communication dominates the employment relationship. It’s also helpful to have individual records with the people you manage and encourage them to do the same. When you don’t see a co-worker working in the same room, you may lose body language or facial cues that represent their frustrations or feelings. It would be best if you make a conscious effort to ask them.

Related: What the work-from-home boom means to your future

Sign up to share successes and victories

In the office, it’s easier to have casual conversations about great feedback you’ve received, a project you’ve completed, or a client you’ve impressed. These conversations come out naturally when you are in person and increase employee morale. That’s why it’s helpful to have these intentional conversations while working remotely.

Make a conscious effort to share successes and victories weekly or fortnightly with your team. This is easy to do when you include time for “celebrations and shouts” on your meeting agenda at the beginning or end of a recurring meeting. These moments are essential both for maintaining employee morale and for team cohesion.

Don’t forget about creating social teams

Don’t forget to socialize! When teams are happier and more comfortable, they work better together. Make room for activities that allow them to disconnect from the day-to-day workload and give them time to invest in building their work relationships. Otherwise, everyone stays so focused on their work that they forget the humanity of their peers.

Maybe it’s a weekly virtual happy hour or a “lunch and learn”. You could start a weekly meeting 15 minutes later for people to come and chat without having to start the agenda right away. Another option is to ensure some face-to-face meetings for people who feel comfortable. Creating these intentional moments where work is not the only approach will work wonders for the team.

Related: The survey reveals 4 transformational trends in remote work

Encourage them to turn off

And finally, remind your employees that the day is over. There has long been talk that working from home causes more workers to be working late into the night. Model the need to reconcile work and personal life and discourage overwork. Employees who are overworked and unable to turn off will not be offered the best job. As a leader, don’t just remind them of this – behave in a way that proves you believe it.

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