Can You Truly Be an Effective Leader When Working From Home?
By now, remote work has become a standard for many people worldwide. This state of affairs is likely to become a trend even after the pandemic, some predictions say.
Namely, many people have realized the benefits of remote work — notably better time management — and are willing to switch to this way of working completely, rather than other types of work. Others have voiced their wishes to work remotely at least from time to time. Lastly, many employers have realized the benefits of cost reduction.
Keeping all these developments in mind, it is only to be expected that some changes will take place after the pandemic, so how can leaders ensure flawless operations in the long run?
Obviously, the first thing to keep in mind is that the apps and tools developed for online work and communication are being perfected by the minute. Team management, task management, communication and meeting tools are being widely used.
And while the majority of people have already familiarized themselves with the current trends, there’s no saying that a new, better app won’t be developed at any moment. In fact, this scenario is highly likely.
Digital trends change faster than any other because they need to live up to the expectations of an increasing number of people and work demands. To be able to effectively lead your team remotely, you should make an effort to keep informed about the following:
- Task-management tools
Currently, the most popular choices include Asana and Trello.
- Communication tools
Currently, the most popular choices include Zoom, Slack, Skype, Google Meet and MS Team.
- Document management tools
Currently, the most popular choices include OneDrive and Google Drive.
Communication remains the single most important factor of seamless operations, no matter the outlet. For many people unused to remote work, the biggest original issue was to cope with innovative communication tools. This is not necessarily due to the lack of knowledge but, rather, to the different setting.
Instant messengers and meeting tools are varied; while all of them keep the same premise in mind, they have different layouts and (sometimes) complicated features that may prove difficult in the beginning.
It is absolutely necessary for any leader to know the meeting tools their teams use and to ensure seamless training sessions so that all team members do likewise. Remember, the trick is getting people relaxed; there’s no point in holding regular meetings if their efficiency is doomed to be hindered by technicalities.
Organization is also crucial. It is pointless to bulk all teams and tasks together as that will only make things more complicated rather than the other way around. E.g., teams working on a project need to have a separate communication tool. Various apps offer this feature, with the most popular choice currently being Asana.
Finally, it is crucial to enable instant communication for everyone and communicate clearly the methodology of how that is to be done. Not every little obstacle calls for an urgent meeting. Issues can be reported via email client or other tools.
Update Team Members on a Regular Basis
Simply put, team members need to be kept updated at all times. It is, after all, upon the leader to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and this is best done by sharing updates regularly.
To this end, various tools can be used. Again, it is crucial to establish the practice and make certain that everyone understands it. I.e., email briefings are one option; Asana channels are another. Note that these are only guidelines; you may well look up solutions that are better suited to the specific purpose.
The importance of anonymous feedback is just becoming more apparent. The practice is known for not only boosting engagement, but also for increasing employee satisfaction.
It is necessary to ensure that everyone’s voice will be heard and issues be dealt with promptly so as to avoid unnecessary (and unpleasant) escalations of solvable issues.
Firstly, keep in mind that people unused to remote work will have difficulties relaxing. Some companies have reported that the employees are afraid to take a lunch break because they are afraid that the manager may call during that time and interpret their absence as slacking off.
These things should be clearly communicated, but you will rarely hear employees speak openly about their fears, for various reasons. It is more subtle to implement them in anonymous feedback.
Other examples may also come to mind. Be perceptive and address anything that resembles an issue as soon as you spot it.
Okay, so far we have learned what e-learning is, but there is a new rising trend — mLearning (short for mobile learning). As is the case with everything digital, mobile devices are slowly taking dominance.
Leaving the obvious reasons aside, it is crucial for a leader to recognize and encourage mLearning. When staging seminars, for example, it is recommended to ensure they are optimized for mobile devices.
Remember the part about the importance of your employees feeling relaxed mentioned above? This is one of the methods you can (and should) use. Whether your team members are learning while enjoying a cup of coffee is rather unimportant – the important part is that learning is taking place, so there’s no reason not to make things easier.
Last but not least, the issue of persistently incoming emails is a big deal. In fact, employees’ practice to check incoming emails all the time is the black hole that wastes incredible amounts of time.
Needless to say, not all emails are urgent and need to be dealt with ASAP while others deal with different variations of the same topic. That’s where templates should be used and — make no mistake — no matter how much time it takes to create efficient templates, the time will not have been wasted.
Great many work-related emails can be grouped in categories. Start with defining their priority. Only urgent emails need to be addressed as they come, while others can wait.
Being an effective leader of remote teams is, as you can see, all about communication, delegation, sharing, and feedback. Different people have different habits, so it is crucial to define goals, set priorities , and keep communication alive.
Everything else should be addressed as it comes. After all, there’s no one-size-fits all approach when dealing with people. We’re all different. Embrace the variety and make remote work enjoyable for everyone. If you manage to do this, you will be able to consider yourself an efficient leader.