Featured Insights

Michelle Palasek has 20 years in the staffing industry working in sales and marketing operations. She currently serves as a Sr. Marketing Communications Specialist at SGA.

Building Effective Leadership in Remote Work Environments

Leadership in Remote work

Today’s employees, especially millennials and the members of Gen X, gravitate toward remote work. According to a recent study, 45% of millennials and 62% of Gen X see remote work as their ideal work arrangement.

Kellogg Insight, however, suggests that people are more likely to learn from collaborators who are in close proximity to them. That, in turn, begs the question, “Is remote work hurting leadership development?”

Admittedly, approaching leadership development for remote teams can be more challenging than enhancing the skills and abilities of in-person staff. But with the right remote leadership development strategies, you can still cultivate effective leaders.

With that in mind, here are some effective remote leadership development strategies and tips:

Understand What You Are Up Against

Why is remote leadership development so challenging in the first place? The digital work environment eliminates physical office space, fundamentally changing how teams communicate, collaborate, and connect with each other. Additionally, maintaining team cohesion without daily face-to-face interaction can prove difficult.

In response, leaders must navigate these changes with an understanding that traditional in-person management techniques may not always apply, and they’ll need to fill the resulting void with digital alternatives.

Stay Connected

Once you go remote, it’s easy for team members to drift apart from one another and their supervisory staff. You can work to minimize the disconnect between employees by holding regular video meetings or phone conferences. Getting everyone talking and collaborating maintains a sense of commitment and community.

Leverage Technology for Communication

Technology is the lifeline of remote work, and that makes the choice and use of communication tools absolutely critical. Equip your leaders with the tools they need to mimic the richness of in-person interactions, such as instant messaging applications and video conferencing solutions.

That said, you don’t want to overwhelm your staff with too many applications or unnecessary meetings. Choose a couple of foundational applications and build your digital community out from and around those resources.

Foster a Culture of Trust

Beyond physical technology, remote work thrives on trust and autonomy. Effective leaders must trust their teams to manage their time and tasks effectively and without the need for constant oversight.

Micromanaging employees will only create friction between you and them, thereby reducing productivity and cratering morale. Instead, strive to set clear expectations, step back, and let your teams focus on achieving key tasks.

Keep Everyone Engaged

Regular team meetings and one-on-one check-ins can help maintain a sense of belonging and alignment. On top of that, encouraging informal interactions, such as virtual coffee breaks or social hours, can also help team members feel more connected and engaged on a personal level.

Share Wins

When employees are no longer in the office every day, they may begin to feel disconnected from the organization and its goals. Leaders, therefore, should strive to be as transparent as possible about the company’s developments, established team goals, and individual expectations. It’s also vital that you celebrate wins where and whenever possible, no matter if they’re small or monumental.

Emphasize Clear and Compassionate Communication

Clear, consistent, and empathetic communication represents another crucial component of remote work. It’s important to listen actively and empathetically, providing a safe space for team members to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas.

Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Digital work can sometimes blur the boundaries between professional and personal life, especially if employees experience lots of autonomy and work hour fluctuations. Overstepping into a worker’s personal life, however, can lead to burnout and reduced productivity.

Effective leaders will recognize the importance of employee well-being and their work-life balance. Encourage regular breaks, respect off-hours, and promote physical and mental health practices to maximize productivity.

Use a Personalized Approach

Every team is unique, so you’ll want to personalize your remote leadership strategy based on the needs, chemistry, size, and structure of your staff. Take the time to understand the individual needs and goals of your team members to promote a sense of unity and loyalty.

Develop Remote Leadership Skills

Third-party professional services providers can help you identify and cultivate important remote leadership skills. Many of these, such as emotional intelligence, carry over from the in-office model to the remote environment. However, the means by which these skills are used can be quite different.

Leading From the Front

Ultimately, the best remote leaders exhibit the characteristics, values, and behavior that they want their teams to emulate. As you revamp your own leadership strategies, remember that the goal is to create an environment where team members feel valued, supported, and motivated.