Remote Leadership: Now, and Beyond

How many people today find themselves in uncharted waters?  How many of you are working remotely, not set up correctly to do so, and having to share that space with people with different objectives, wants, needs, and desires?

In his monthly column for Agency Nation, Richmond-based employee engagement and internal brand communications expert Ben Baker shares his insights into how to communicate value effectively, so people want to listen and engage. In the end, it’s about creating influence through trust. 

Sending people home for a month or two is not the same as creating a dynamic remote team.

There are real challenges in leading, supporting, and communicating with team members and setting them up for success long-term. 

Most people, who have never work from home, dream of it, no commute, more laid back environment, ability to work at a different pace or schedule, and so on. The problem is, the truth is much different from reality.  Working from home and managing a remote team is hard.

Let’s take it from the remote worker’s point of view.  First of all, everything that they have set up at the office is not there. People do not necessarily have the ergonomic desk, keyboard tray, and chair, adequate lighting, filing cabinets, supplies as and when needed, access to individuals as and when required, and the feeling of not being isolated and alone.

Now, from the leadership’s point of view, it comes down to how do I communicate, motivate, engage, and inspire workers who are not physically in the same space that I am in?  How do I make sure that my team is working together, efficiently and effectively, to achieve goals and be successful?

A series of questions must be asked by both leaders and those wanting to work from home, together, if the process is to be successful for everyone.

Do you, as the employee have a safe space for you to work from?

This is critically important.  Domestic abuse cases as up in the world of COVID-19 and sending someone home to work who is going to end up physically or mentally abused is the last thing any business or person should want.

Are you psychologically prepared to be isolated from your team long-term?

Many people think that they are prepared to work alone long-term but struggle with it.  Setting up more virtual team meets, having virtual office hours where people can check-in, and checking in more regularly as a leader is vital to making sure that your team members do not feel isolated and fall into a state of depression.

Do you have a physical space that is optimum for you to work successfully?

In our home, I have my own office with cable internet, dual monitors on swivels, a 4k light in front of me with a boom, mic and video camera set up for conference calls and podcasts, an L-shaped desk, with adjustable keyboard tray, an ergonomic chair, both multi-function black and white laser printer, and color laser printer and practical filing cabinets and storage.  My son has a full desk set up with dual monitors in his bedroom, and my wife is working from the dining room table.  Short term, this is fine, long-term, having my wife, who is a financial planner, work from a dining room table is unacceptable.

Businesses need to make sure that employees have a comfortable and quiet space to work, with high-speed internet, reliable up to date hardware and software, and can work efficiently without interruptions.

Do we, as companies, have policies and procedures set up to manage expectations and enable our teams to succeed?

More than likely, most of the policies and procedures that organizations had before creating a remote workforce will need to be reviewed, augmented, or changed.  Having a remote workforce requires more effective and efficient leadership built on better communication.  It is about listening to the challenges and being responsive, and each person going home is going to have different needs, wants, and desires. It is about setting people and the company itself up for success and making sure that employees are engaged with, listened to, understood, and valued. 

A great example is creating a place within the company, Slack, Google Docs, or Microsoft Teams for instance, where every day, every person posts at three pm local time what they plan on achieving the following day.  Concurrently, stating whether they had accomplished the task from the previous day and if they have not, why not and what they need to achieve it.

There is no one way to send teams home successfully, and every organization needs to talk internally to understand what is going to work for them.  It is about balancing the needs of the individuals, with the needs of the organizations and training everyone so that there are effective leadership and communication channels that allow for problems to be identified, discussed and rectified quickly.

Here is a video series that we have created called Tips for Leaders.  We designed it to help leaders, at all levels, support their teams through this crisis and beyond. If there are ways we can help you develop policies, procedures, and methods of communication that will allow you to survive and thrive moving forward, please reach out at any time.

Here is wishing everyone health, safety, and long-term success.

 

Ben Baker wants to help you engage, retain, and grow your most valuable asset…your employees. He provides workshops and consulting to enable staff to understand, codify, and communicate their value effectively internally and externally and Retain Employees Through Leadership. The author of Powerful Personal Brands: A Hands-On Guide to Understanding Yours and the host of the iHeart Radio syndicated YourLIVINGBrand.live show, he writes extensively on brand and communication strategy. 

Ben’s complimentary online course, Know – Like – Trust: The Basis to Start Any Relationship, is now available. Click here to access the course.

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