Leading Remote Teams – What you need to know

Well, it’s been a funny sort of a year so far (to say the least!) and as managers and business leaders we have had to get to grips with a whole host of new ways of working and legislation whilst at the same time guiding a steady ship in a hurricane.  You’re doing your best and it’s completely understandable if your focus on managing remote employees (whether they are working from home, are on furlough or are unfortunately in their notice period) has taken a bit of a back seat.   

This blog covers: 

  • Why you should get to grips with managing remote teams 
  • What a good leader looks like 
  • What to think about when leading remote teams 

Why you should get to grips with managing remote teams 

As we go forward, it is widely predicted that remote and flexible working will become increasingly common and in fact, the Government is proposing to introduce legislation that makes flexible working the norm.  With employees increasingly asking for and expecting flexible working options, this is an issue that’s not going away and understanding how to make it work will be key to future teamwork and engagement. 

What a good leader looks like 

Whatever your style of management, great leaders have certain things in common: 

  • They communicate regularly, consistently and clearly, providing timely feedback 
  • They sell the story and vision, to inspire, encourage and motivate towards a common goal 
  • They empower and coach their teams to be the best they can be 
  • They collaborate and influence to get results and keep moving forward 
  • They build trust through their actions and the connections they make with their teams 

Think of any great leader, and chances are, you are struck by their ability to progress and deliver whilst bringing people alongside them.  They will be clear in their vision and consistent with their actions to achieve results. 

How to lead a remote team 

Whether your team is sitting on the bank of desks next to you or are sitting on a deckchair in their back garden, the core skills for leadership remain the same.  There might be a different emphasis on what you do, but the core activities above are what you need in your toolkit.  Here is what we would advise you consider: 

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate – keeping in touch with people both individually and as a team, and asking for people’s input and thoughts helps demonstrate that they haven’t been forgotten and are valued for their contribution.  The way you communicate remotely will have to be more deliberate.  The coffee machine chat is not possible at the moment so regularly touching base not only on a formal basis, but on a more casual basis is a great way to stay connected.
  2. Build trust – ok, so having said communicate, take care not to overdo it to the point where your teams feels like they are being checked up on at 8 in the morning and 6 in the evening.  Set a good work life balance example yourself by demonstrating that you don’t always have to be on call at home and that there should be clear divide between work time and home time.  Measure people on the results they provide rather than the hours they are sitting at their laptop. 
  3. Ask questions and genuinely listen.  If you can identify where people are worried, disengaged or feeling isolated early on, you will be able to address these issues more quickly and recharge the team for action. 
  4. Despite short term challenges, maintain a focus on the longer term vision and goals and keep a focus on individuals personal development and career progression. 
  5. Celebrate your successes and share what is going well, making sure you are saying thank you genuinely and sincerely for the contribution individuals and teams are making. 

If you are considering making changes to the way you lead, recruit and onboard people in the future, at Agile HR we are here to help you develop your HR strategies and processes.  For more information visit www.agilehrconsulting.com or contact jenny@agilehrconsulting.com.

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