4 Tips for Leading Remote Employees
Under current circumstances, many of us find ourselves working remotely. We thought this might be a good time to talk about some of the half-truths and half-myths that you may have heard buzzing around over the years about working remotely.
Out of sight, out of mind?
Well, yes and no.
Yes – The truth is that one of the things remote workers struggle with is when they miss hallway conversations. Normal hallway conversations happen during the normal course of a day, and we think to include the people we can see, and too often, those who are out of sight are overlooked or forgotten.
No – Sadly some workers resent it when their colleagues have remote or alternate work arrangements, especially when that creates more pressure or a perceived imbalance of work for those who are around the office. In these cases, the tension may cause the remote worker’s name to be brought up in more conversations, and not always in an uplifting way.
What to do about it? Be intentional about alternate schedules, about equity within the team, and about making sure there are communication forums even for impromptu discussions that don’t leave anyone out.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder?
Well, yes and no.
Yes – seeing a direct report or a colleague only periodically may cause us to focus on the positive moments we had with them – the fun of that last team dinner, the celebration when we completed that last big project, the positive and uplifting conversation they brought to the kickoff – and overlook behavior since then that may have been unproductive.
No – sometimes absence does the exact opposite – causing us to dwell on or focus on the tough moments, the negative experiences, those moments that were less than stellar, and we see only those behaviors, thereby missing out on the positive and successful things that individual has contributed since then.
What to do about it? Be intentional about your lookbacks and your memories, and avoid the biases that come from just remembering the beginning, just remembering the most recent, just remembering the most favorable, or just remembering the most negative – work diligently to be as objective as possible.
What you see is what you get?
Well, yes and no.
Yes – with remote employees, it’s important to determine what you will measure and to make a point of viewing those measures regularly. Are you measuring working hours? Are you measuring outputs? Are you measuring outcomes? You get what you measure, so be sure to ask to see the things you want to be measuring.
No – many remote employees have asked or voluntarily moved to a remote working situation because they know that they are more productive when left alone. Just because you don’t see that person at your meetings or on skype doesn’t mean they’re not being productive.
What to do about it? Be sure to work out the conversation with remote team members about expectations before any remote work happens so everyone is clear on what you’ll be measuring.
It’s a small world after all?
Well, as you might have guessed…yes, and no.
Yes – with our ability to connect using technology, distances aren’t so far anymore. It’s entirely possible to collaborate effectively with another team member who is on the other side of the globe from you. That feels like a pretty small world.
No – when we start to work remotely or promote social distancing, we become less personally connected. The world starts to feel a little bigger, a little lonelier. We have to work harder to connect as humans and to make spaces – even virtual spaces – for conversations and relationship building.
What to do about it? Take advantage of technological opportunities like videoconferencing to learn more about someone else’s culture, heritage, upbringing, and world view, especially if a significant geographical space separates you. Be intentional about including those who are not physically in the same space as you in conversations and relationship-building discussions to help foster that small-world feel.
These are just a couple of the concepts top of mind – if you’re interested in learning more about how to lead geographically disparate teams, check out our webinar How to Lead Regardless of Geography.