Managing and leading remote teams cannot be done using the same methods practiced in the physical office. Read here 9 tips for leading a remote workforce.
The working landscape has evolved since the implementation of remote and hybrid work models. While this evolution was mostly forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is clear that the “new work” is here to stay as it brings many advantages to employees and employers as well.
However, remote work has brought a different challenge for managers. They had to quickly figure out how to manage and lead their teams without the physical presence. Employees, in turn, fear career disadvantages that can result from too little presence in the office (FOMO fear of missing out).
Unfortunately, many managers considered that scheduling meetings for every single task might be a solution.
This has led to workers feeling stressed due to constant video calling and micromanaging, which only added to their isolation and depression. It’s clear we need a better approach when it comes to managing remote employees, and it has to be based on trust, independence, and mutual commitment.
Here are 9 tips on how to manage and lead your virtual team.
When everyone was working in the same office, communication could easily take place. An employee could’ve walked to the manager’s office and inquired about something. When it comes to remote working, communication might be more complicated if the channels of communication are not easy to use and intuitive.
Communication is the glue that holds a team or a company's employees together. Therefore the ground rules on how teams or employees communicate in a hybrid or remote work setting is an important managerial task.
If remote work is done using a video conferencing platform, communication must be done via other platforms because Zoom and Co don’t offer the option to chat outside the video call. Or regular meetings must be scheduled for the sole purposes of keeping in touch with each other.
The best option comes when a virtual office platform such as ivCAMPUS is used. In virtual offices, there’s the possibility of easily communicating outside video calls, giving workers a single platform that they can rely on for work and communication.
Either method is used for virtual collaboration, the team must know for sure which channels they can use to communicate effectively.
Another old practice from the physical office that we need to leave behind is counting the time spent at work instead of the outcome. In the traditional 9 to 5 in-office setting, if someone has clocked in and then spent the required hours at the desk, it was considered a full day’s work.
Maintaining the same practice for remote teams is difficult to implement and unnecessary to say the least. Monitoring the workers’ devices is not only excessive, but also violates their right for privacy.
To remove this unnecessary pressure of activity, outcomes should be the true measure of work done. After all, the results are the most important element of any business activity.
Measuring only the outcomes does two things:
Trust-based work is possible in a remote or hybrid work model if an environment based on trust and independence is created. Workers are happier and therefore, more productive, if they have the liberty to work their assigned task without a manager counting their steps.
It’s also imperative for teams to understand they have their own agency to balance their workloads with their hobbies and daily activities. A manager should encourage their team members to discover, cultivate, and improve their work-life balance by promoting a sense of independence. After all, this is one of the greatest benefits of remote work.
A clarity over the deadlines of specific tasks should be maintained to ensure that the company’s goals are aligned with the workers’ goals. However, a manager cannot affirm they trust their employees if there’s no degree of independence in their work.
Trust is a mutual confidence that is earned through a relationship of faith in individual expertise or potential ability being reinforced with consistently-fulfilled expectations. Despite the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that trust can only be established in a physical in-office environment, many leaders still see a lack of trust as the biggest challenge for managing remote employees. What they actually mean is not a lack of trust but a lack of control.
This view completely neglects the long-lasting discussion on the critical role of trust-based work for organisational resilience. Trust is a cultural value that doesn't relate to a physical location. Recent research clearly showed that trust can be built via video (and even audio) almost just as good as in a face-to-face setting.
An environment of trust is built by showing employees they are entrusted to do the work they’re assigned to do in a timely manner, and being treated as having the best intentions by default.
Socialisation was never an issue in the traditional physical office, because the environment was built in such a way that people would socialise when they were in the coffee room, around the watercooler or in the lunch break.
In remote or hybrid work settings, managers have to focus on bringing back these proverbial “watercooler moments” either by creating scheduled meetings with this purpose or by having special virtual rooms where these microinteractions can take place.
Spontaneous interactions are important for the work environment, because those are the moments when workers connect and feel like part of the team. This is why using a virtual office platform such as ivCAMPUS is much better than using traditional videoconferencing apps. In a virtual office workers have special break rooms where they can meet with one another and have a quick chat.
It is also a good idea to hold weekly meetings when team members connect with each other and give an update on the latest developments. Regardless of what platforms are used for remote work, socialisation must be encouraged and nurtured.
When working remotely, the interactions are much more limited and there are fewer occasions when a manager can give appreciation for work well done. This is why managers must make a deliberate effort to give praise to excellent work in a remote or hybrid work environment.
This is important because employees need to feel like their work and presence is valued in the company, and this oftentimes requires simple acknowledgements and praises for excellent work done. As we mentioned, one of the greatest fears of remote workers is the fear of not being seen.
Give your team appreciation on a daily basis and they’ll feel motivated and valued.
One of the main advantages of remote work is a better work-life balance. That means workers are not always available at specific hours during the day. On some days, they might need to visit a doctor, or go grocery shopping at an interval that is usually reserved for working hours.
If you have the flexibility to allow your team to be more adaptive when it comes to their working hours, you’ll have a much happier and productive workforce. Because if those tasks are not dealt with at the optimal time, they only add more stress and worry to the worker.
In a remote environment, workers might have different emotional challenges than what they generally had when coming to the physical office. Every person is different and their situation is unique, and therefore a manager needs to know and understand what are the emotional struggles of their team members.
Once you have a clear understanding of what is going on with each individual, it will become clearer what type of emotional support they need. Some people might struggle with loneliness, some might struggle with managing their own time, while others might have personal issues that take a toll on their well-being.
Virtual offices like ivCAMPUS reduce the perceived isolation and loneliness in the home office by making office life visible: colleagues are present in their offices or together in meeting rooms, visitors come and go, etc., so that employees have the feeling of being in the middle of the office action.
It is a manager’s duty to understand the emotional needs of their workforce and then proactively provide the emotional support they need with a great sense of empathy and patience.
Hybrid and remote work is inconceivable without a certain level of technological support. In addition to the actual equipment for employees with technology suitable for home offices, the different models of hybrid work differ primarily with regard to the collaborative aspects:
In office-first hybrid models the technology requirement is lower and can be covered by video conferencing apps (e.g. Webex, Zoom).
However, if value is placed on social interaction and "team spirit", using a virtual office such as ivCAMPUS is the right choice because it combines the benefits of a virtual office to a physical one.
Managing remote employees is a much easier task when using ivCAMPUS. The permanent presence element allows managers to “walk around the office” and see what the teams are doing with a quick glance. Dedicated break rooms allow team members to connect and socialise like they would in a physical office. The easy way to send a note to a colleague or knock on their door and have a quick chat makes remote work feel less remote.
Your team is much more connected with each other, creativity and motivation is boosted by the sense of community, and microinteractions make everyone feel like being in the same place, no matter where they work from.
Leadership in virtual teams requires a different and flexible approach if you want your team members to feel valued, connected, and feeling like part of a unified community. And since we no longer have the advantages that the physical office used to bring, we have to adapt our ways, our tools, and our methods to the new future of work. With the right approach and intention, managing remote workforce becomes an achievable task.
ivCAMPUS is more than a virtual office. It’s an immersive virtual space where people work together, collaborate, and interact in real-time, just like they would do in a real office. And we designed it in such a way to allow you to not only keep your brand image but also let employees feel attached to their virtual office and your company.
From colours to logos, areas and rooms - ivCAMPUS is fully customizable with a few clicks. You can bring back the design you had in the physical office to keep your company culture intact and connect with your customers and employees on an emotional level. External visitors are received in a beautiful reception area. Employees not only see the visual brand elements but are an active part of their own workplaces design and structure.
Whether it's a venerable university, college, online academy or accelerator program. The world of higher education is on the move. Tomorrow Campus is the place that brings everyone and everything together.
The future of work is hybrid, and therefore we need to make the digital town hall suitable for our needs.