Let’s face it… the pandemic has changed how the working world works. Whether it’s a permanent change remains to be seen, but for now, companies must embrace the new normal. With quarantines, mask mandates, varying vaccination statuses, it’s become a simpler and better option for a huge number of workers from different industries to work from home. With all of these employees working remotely, companies need to hire or train an effective remote leader. So what is the difference between an on-site and remote manager? Keep reading!
A Changing Paradigm
According to FlexJobs, millions of Americans shifted to remote work in 2020. Other studies conducted in 2020 conclude that the growth rate for full-time remote work is expected to double over the next five years. As shown in another 2020 survey, this time by Gartner, over 80% of business leaders planned to allow employees to work remotely (at least some of the time) after the pandemic winds down. However, just like on-site employees, remote workers need ongoing professional guidance and support in order to continue to be productive and efficient.
In most cases, great in-person leaders can adapt to become great remote leaders. However, successful remote leaders display certain traits, such as the ability to get things done, effective and concise communication skills, and adaptability/responsiveness.
Remote Leader Trait #1: The Ability to Get Things Done
A BBC Worklife survey asked 220 U.S. workers to choose the traits of their preferred leader in face-to-face, remote and hybrid work environments.
Team members who preferred to work in face-to-face settings chose leaders with traditional leadership traits; confidence, social magnetism and extroverted traits such as friendliness and effective public speaking.
Remote team members selected far more action-oriented traits for their leadership. Remote workers benefit most with leadership that plans effectively, provides employees the resources they need, and stays on top of tasks and deadlines. These leaders are “focused, productive, dependable and helpful.”
Basically… managers that focus on getting the work done… not just talking about getting the work done!
Remote Leader Trait #2: Effective and Concise Communication Skills
Obviously, remote work creates physical distances between both employees and their managers. Without real time communication and interaction, some remote employees feel lost, alone, and disconnected. Good remote leaders mostly focus on regular connections with their team – especially those who are most attuned to direct communication.
Effective remote leaders use the communication channels that work best for them and their team.. whether that’s email, Slack, Asana, text, phone and/or video calls. These leaders perform regular check-ins, without micromanaging, to ensure that employees do not feel isolated. Structured times to meet and discuss work are key, and unstructured, more casual discussions are important as well. A good remote manager will encourage employees to provide feedback on all their work processes and to share ideas with their coworkers for improvement.
Disengagement is always a concern, and a successful remote leader must work hard to motivate and engage their employees.
Remote Leader Trait #3: Adaptability
As remote work becomes more popular, new tools that make remote work more efficient or more manageable will become available. Remote managers must be willing and able to adapt to these new tools, and be able to become fluent in them as fast as their employees. Now, more than ever, is not the time to keep doing something the same way because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”
Be on the lookout for new communication and video chat software, new calendar sharing tools, and new office-wide chat tools. You may find with all these new tools, you’re not just as efficient as before, but even more so.
Remote Leader Trait #4: Responsiveness
An efficient remote Manager knows that employees can’t just knock on their office door to discuss an important or personal matter. Therefore, a remote leader must make themselves available for video chats and discussions in a structured manner, such as scheduled Zoom meeting times, free periods, etc.
To assist with this, managers can use digital calendars such as Google Calendar to record and share their schedule. Additionally, when the manager is not available, they need to be clear about the chain of command so that employees know who to turn to, especially during emergencies.
Become a Great Remote Leader
With remote work becoming the go-to for many businesses and employees during these times, you’ll need a great remote manager… and we hope you found this blog helpful in knowing what to look for.
If you have any questions or need more guidance, we’re happy to help! Just get in touch. You can give us a ring at (804) 364-7220 or just fill out the contact form below.