The work from home (WFH) culture has been steadily growing in popularity in recent years. Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this style of working with huge numbers of people being made to work from home where possible.
What’s more, many businesses are considering making this a permanent arrangement. Huge organisations like Twitter have already said that their workers can remain remote from now on should they wish to.
As such, professionals have had to adapt quickly to this new way of working. This has presented unique challenges for everyone but in particular, for managers who must look after their teams from a different location.
Managing employees remotely is much harder than when you see each other in the office every day. It requires a very specific and strong set of skills and qualities. This has led many employers and bosses across the world to ask themselves ‘do I possess these qualities?’.
If you’re not sure you’ve got what it takes, we’re here to help. Here are the seven leadership qualities every remote boss should have to succeed in managing their remote teams.
Communication has always been an important leadership quality but it is more important now than ever. In normal circumstances, bosses can talk with their teams face-to-face and this makes things much easier. It means they can say more, get their point across and give non-verbal queues by using hand gestures and body language.
However, when working remotely, this is taken away from you. As such, it’s vital that good leaders are able to communicate effectively over the phone, via email or through video conferences. Otherwise, important information could get lost or missed.
When speaking over the phone or via video, it’s important to be as clear and concise as possible so nothing gets lost in translation. Similarly, when putting together an email, it’s imperative bosses are able to get their points across through their written word.
As well as being able to communicate well, good managers must be able to listen to their teams also. Again, this is because if managers are unable to listen effectively, they might miss important details or there could be confusion when working on projects.
What’s more, employees could be feeling a mixture of emotions, especially when working remotely and it’s important they get regular catch-ups with their managers. This way they can give updates on how their work is going but also how they’re feeling both mentally and physically.
It’s important they feel their voice is being heard and that any feedback they give is being taken onboard. Particularly when it comes to the processes and systems in place that facilitate their remote work. Because if they’re not given the right tools, they’ll struggle to do their job effectively.
While remote working has a huge number of benefits, it does also mean there’s a lot more for managers to keep track of. They must juggle their own workload with team catch-ups, one-to-ones, meetings, performance reviews and feedback from staff. Of course, most of these apply in any normal workplace but these are often easier to manage when face-to-face interactions are possible.
When working remotely, bosses must be way more organised and ensure they’re staying on top of all their responsibilities. It’s much easier for tasks to get lost, dropped or forgotten about when you’re working remotely.
While working remotely can seem great in the early stages and as we said, there are a number of benefits, it’s not without its challenges. Workers could begin to feel lonely or isolated when not seeing their colleagues each day. After all, our co-workers very often become a good support network for us, especially when things are stressful at work.
This means managers need to bring all the positivity they can to their remote teams. This means being upbeat about any new processes or systems that have come into play as a result of the remote workforce. It also means offering positive feedback and potentially even rewards such as care packages for employees who have gone above and beyond or who have performed particularly well recently.
Trust goes both ways, so not only do managers need to be trusted by their teams but they must also trust their employees. In the early stages of remote work, many were concerned that allowing workers to conduct work from their home or chosen location meant they would slack off. Essentially, without the boss watching, they would be free to do what they wanted.
However, studies have found that actually remote workers can be a lot more productive than those who go into the office each day. As such, managers must trust that their teams are conducting themselves professionally and getting their work done on time.
They must also be open and honest about what’s going on with the business and make sure to keep any promises they make to their teams. This will build a trusting relationship between both sides and will ultimately lead to a much happier and more productive workforce.
6. Work-life balance
Again, this is another quality that goes both ways. When working remotely, particularly when working from home, there is the temptation to keep checking emails or just stay on a bit later doing that project. That’s because you never technically leave the office and switch off for the day.
Managers need to be really careful that they are practising a good work-life balance but also that they are encouraging their teams to do the same. Workers who don’t switch off, no matter what their role or seniority could face stress, burnout and a handful of other serious issues.
This is why it’s important that managers at all levels are promoting work-life balance and practising what they preach.
7. Empathy and care
Last but not least, it’s important to remember that not everyone is great at working from home and remote positions can be tough. For example, for those who may have children at home with them or those that often need technical or logistical support.
Managers need to remember this and show empathy towards those who may be struggling. It also pays to offer a certain amount of flexibility to those who might be finding it hard. This shows that you care about the wellbeing of your employees and in turn, this will produce a more passionate and loyal workforce.