Even though a lot of changes have happened recently in the United States, one thing that has remained constant was the presence of the COVID-19 virus and its effect on all things economic. As we trudge into our 8th month of government-required remote work situations (and some companies began doing so before it was required), a silver lining for most is that employees and employers alike are “getting the hang of it” as far as avoiding distractions, attending virtual meetings, and staying motivated from a distance are concerned.
With no sign of a pandemic end in sight, performance in the remote work setting needs to continue to be honed, as does organizational leadership, and means of motivating and empowering team members who could be thousands of miles away.
Hopefully 2021 brings with it a vaccine or other means of ending this pandemic, but until remote work goes back to being an option instead of a necessity, here are a few tips for evolving your organizational leadership practices in regard to your remote team.
What is Organizational Leadership?
As all of the approaches to organizational leadership in a remote setting stem from those learned and polished in a brick-and-mortar setting, it’s important to first define exactly what is meant by organizational leadership.
It is defined as a management approach in which leaders help set strategic goals for the organization while motivating individuals within the group to successfully carry out assignments relative to those goals. Certainly not a new thought in the business world, but as companies grow into corporations, it’s always important that goals become strictly defined so they can be adapted too, company culture-wise.
Without cubicles to peek over, or cups of coffee to grab after a morning meeting, one-on-one time with employees is proving to be one of the biggest obstacles faced for companies moving from in-office to remote work. Scheduling and attending meetings isn’t all that difficult, but the extra five minutes to really explain to someone what they are being tasked with after a meeting can seem like a burden given the distance, but a quick call to relay those messages is extra-important in the remote setting.
You can’t really tell how your employee is taking the messages in a Zoom situation, so scheduling debriefs with the important members of a given meeting should become the norm as remote work rolls on.
Another practice that should be as common in the in-person office settings as it is anywhere else, transparency in the remote workplace is important for most of the same reasons that overcommunication is. Without being able to feel the sense of a room (because rooms don’t exist in the digital workspace), many employees are more skeptical of the decision-makers, as they can’t truly confront them or read body language relative to a given discussion. Promising and delivering a heightened level of transparency when your team has to work remotely will help keep the skepticism away and the motivation and work-ethic strong.
Encourage and Empower a Healthy Lifestyle
Remote work options were already trending as things aspiring employees look for, and with COVID giving many more a taste of the work-from-home life, that trend is expected to increase long after the pandemic is over, as it is a key in work-live balance.
Another key in that balance is the ability (which generally involves time) to practice mental and physical exercise, which are directly proportional when it comes to levels of healthiness. There are plenty of physical activities that remote teams can participate in, and even lunch breaks can turn into recipe sharing which can help teamwork in addition to mental and physical health (cooking and teaching for the former, good food for the latter).
As remote work continues to trend, it’s also even more important than ever to encourage cultural awareness amongst colleagues. Employee pools in the remote world setting are truly limitless, and, thus, so are the cultures that team members hail from. Focuses on cultural awareness are morally sound and also good for the bottom line.
Speak About the Future
The pandemic has hit every corner of our lives hard, but an ability to be motivated to work to pay for the things we enjoy is growing progressively more difficult as many people continue to be limited in the amount they can pursue those things they love. As previously mentioned, it is very important to be transparent, but that transparency can involve some genuine hopefulness. Plans for team outings and celebrations for “when this is all over” are as equally important as sharing updates about business.
It’s as uncertain a time in the home lives of employees as it is for most companies and their projections. Even if some of your team members aren’t involved in discussions regarding adaptation to a continued pandemic, letting everyone know about major changes on the horizon help them feel like part of a team when the old means of channeling camaraderie prove next to impossible.