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How to Lead Effectively in a Remote Environment

It can be difficult to know how to lead effectively in a remote environment. This is especially true if it is a new experience for you!

You may not have the same visual cues or in-person interactions that you would normally use to gauge employee engagement or motivation.

However, with a few simple tips, you can learn how to successfully motivate and lead your team from afar! In fact, when properly executed, remote work can offer big benefits to small businesses.

Let’s take a look!

Set Strong Foundations for Trust and Communication

In order to be an effective leader, it is important to establish trust and communication early on.

This is especially important when leading a remote team, as there can be a greater sense of disconnect from the physical office.

To build trust, it is important to be transparent and clear in your communication. Leaders should also make an effort to connect with their team on a personal level.

If they do this, team members feel comfortable coming to them with questions or concerns. By establishing trust and communication early on, leaders can create a foundation for success.

As you can see, this is not so different from in person work. Regardless of where they are, people are people. However, remote collaboration and teambuilding simply takes a slightly different approach. We will explore this more in this post!

Choose Your Official Platforms Early

There are so many communication apps and project management platforms out there, that if you aren’t clear about what’s official early, you could end up with a mess on your hands.

For example, you could end up with different groups of employees communicating on different platforms. Some could be emailing, some could be using zoom, some could be using Facebook chat, and maybe some are even on Slack or using DMs on social media sites.

If you have a small team, this is not a huge issue. But, if you plan to scale your business, having such a chaotic approach to internal communications can cause major problems.

Also, as online scams are on the rise, it leaves your team vulnerable. For example, many malicious actors are using social media, email, text messages, phone calls, and even cash apps to scam people.

If your team knows that they will only receive official communications via Slack or in a private company Facebook group, for example, it means that they are less likely to fall victim to scams outside of these platforms.

All of this can be avoided if, from the start, you make it clear where company communications happen. If your company involves multiple people, this should be set in place from day one.

Define Roles and Responsibilities Clearly

In any work environment, it is important to define roles and responsibilities clearly. This is especially true in a remote work environment, where team members are not physically present with one another on a daily basis.

We have all definitely experienced a work environment, in person, where it seems that there is one person who never really does anything. Even worse, we have all definitely experienced an office culture where no one really knows what they are supposed to be doing.

Without clear roles and responsibilities, it can be difficult for team members to know who is responsible for which tasks. As such, leadership may struggle to effectively delegate tasks and monitor progress. This is true both in person and remotely.

By taking the time to carefully define roles and responsibilities within a remote team, leadership can help to ensure that everyone is aware of their role in the team’s success and that tasks are assigned efficiently.

In turn, this can help to boost productivity and morale within the team.

In fact, one of the biggest pros of remote work is that, if done right, it demands transparency and accountability. For example, if two people have a private meeting in person, no one other than them will really know what was said.

On the other hand, if expectations are laid out via email or in written form in a company forum, there is less room for ambiguity.

Build Regular Check-Ins into Your Workflow

Leadership is important in any working environment, but it is especially crucial in a remote setting.

Without regular face-to-face contact, it can be easy for team members to feel disconnected and disengaged. That’s why it’s important for leaders to facilitate regular check-ins and feedback sessions.

These can help to foster a sense of connection and collaboration, and they provide an opportunity for employees to voice any concerns or issues they may be having.

By scheduling regular check-ins and feedback sessions, leaders can help to create a cohesive and successful remote team.

The Standup Meeting

These meetings actually do not have to be incredibly long and involved. One popular meeting structure is the standup meeting, which is meant to take a matter of minutes.

Essentially, the nature of these meetings is that they occur while participants are standing, to encourage the meetings to be short and sweet.

While you likely cannot apply this exact method remotely, you can take inspiration from it by focusing on these 3 core questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. Anything blocking your progress?

Stick to these questions and keep your invitees to a minimum. If someone does not need to be there, let them sit the meeting out and keep on working.

Be Flexible In Your Approach to Lead Effectively in a Remote Environment

Being a flexible leader is more important than ever. If you are adjusting to working remotely, it’s essential to be able to adapt to changing circumstances.

The best leaders are those who are able to adjust their leadership style to fit the needs of their team.

They understand that what works in one situation may not work in another and are willing to experiment until they find the right approach.

In addition, flexible leaders are also open to input from their team members. They know that the best ideas can come from anywhere and are always willing to listen to new ideas.

By being flexible in their leadership style, the best leaders are able to inspire and motivate their team, regardless of the circumstances.

Celebrate Successes

Many managers fall into the trap of only contacting staff when there are problems. While this can happen in any kind of business, it is even more prevalent in remote work structures.

When it comes to remote work, those casual daily conversations where you just bump into someone in the elevator or on the way to make copies just don’t happen.

This can lead to people only contacting each other when there are problems, which makes for unpleasant company culture.

In order to correct this, opt for regular check-ins where employees discuss both positives and negatvies. You can also have remote holiday parties or cocktail hours. If employees live near eachother, encourage them to meet perhaps.

And, for big milestones, celebrate them on the company platform. Make sure that everyone is connected and knows what’s going out. Don’t be afraid to shout out high performers as well.

Final Thoughts on how to Lead Effectively in a Remote Environment

Leading a remote team can be a challenge, but it’s also very rewarding.

By establishing consistent communication early on and defining roles and responsibilities clearly, you can create a productive and successful remote environment.

Facilitating regular check-ins and feedback sessions will help ensure that everyone is staying on track. In addition, being open to change and flexible in your approach will allow you to adapt as needed.

Finally, celebrating successes – both big and small – will keep everyone motivated and working towards common goals.

What do you think? Comment below.

Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.


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