This past year’s widespread shift to remote work has forced leaders to adapt to a new form of managing. With reliance on tech-based tools to stay connected, leading has become more than just the occasional email check-in or water cooler chat. To stay in tune with team members, leaders have to set new standards for their team-building strategies and communicate more than ever. We have curated a list of ways to effectively lead your remote team and update your remote strategy as we continue into the new year! 

Set Standards

Setting standards for remote work ensures your remote employees stay productive and motivated in their day-to-day tasks. Examples include: setting work-hour guidelines, outlining necessary tools and how to use them, steps to document tasks, and expressing clear communication strategies. 

Set expectations for your team as a whole, but also meet one-on-one with each individual to map out goals that align with their unique situation. This offers a point of guidance for employees who may be prone to at-home distractions. Everyone’s home environment will vary. Some may have kids at home or even just a very needy pet! Take this into consideration when designing their remote work plan, while still remaining true to the set of core expectations.

Set standards for yourself as well. American investor and entrepreneur, Robert F. Smith once said, “You need to know that nothing replaces actually doing the work…And in all honesty, that’s where the joy of success actually resides.” Continuously seek new learning opportunities and dive into new strategies to find what works best for your remote team. Do a deep dive into your personal strategies as well to find areas of improvement and narrow down a remote workflow that produces stronger work. There’s always room for growth, so set standards that challenge your managerial skills and encourage success.

Utilize Tools & Technology

To set your remote team up for success, provide the right tools and technology to get the job done. Start by providing them with the right computer set-up that allows them to tackle daily tasks with ease. Ensure that your IT team conducts remote check-ins regularly to make sure everything is working properly and remains secure.

Real-time chat platforms are another great tool that allows you to organize channels efficiently and effectively to vastly improve remote communication. Public channels become digital watercooler chats to help boost morale and keep employees connected on both a professional and personal level. While private channels allow for more timely, confidential, and professional discussions.

Video conferencing is a great way to connect face-to-face while in the comfort of your own home for more transparent and authentic communication. Conducting routine video check-ins can help leaders gauge how employees are feeling on a more personal level. A Harvard Business Review survey found that 46% of remote employees felt that managers were more successful when checking in with their teams on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Regular meetings not only encourage stronger connections between team members but also act as an outlet for viable team-building strategies or employee recognition methods to further improve morale.

Create a Communication Strategy

A communication strategy outlines the overall objectives and steps towards effective remote communication. This detailed roadmap promotes a transparent, clear communication dynamic between team members and is a viable reference for all levels of the organization. Having this strategy in place also assists leaders in focusing on areas that may need improvement and tracking how new communication tactics may affect productivity, and more importantly, overall morale. 

To create a communication strategy, meet with your team to discuss current communication channels and if these are practical tools for effective communication. Businesswoman and investor, Marissa Mayer states, “When you need to innovate, you need collaboration.” Collaborate with your team and gain first-hand feedback and refine necessary tools to design a more organized way to connect. This will limit miscommunication and shapes a plan that aligns best with your team’s needs. Be sure to monitor newly implemented plans to further develop and revamp the way your team communicates, especially while remote.

Be Flexible

In a recent survey conducted by Crain’s, leaders found that 78% of respondents agreed that flexible schedules and telecommuting are the most effective way, outside of monetary compensation, to retain employees. Offering employees flexible work schedules when remote can make all the difference when it comes to promoting work-life balance. 

Many remote employees are juggling families and may need to start their day a little later or end earlier in order to manage their busy schedule. If you haven’t already, we suggest implementing flex-hours to allow employees to design their day in a way that best suits their busy schedule. Burnout is a major cause of lowered engagement, so giving them needed time in their day to enact work-life balance will not only lower stress levels but make the workday more manageable. Set guidelines like a required number of work hours and a maximum start time to address availability and ensure they are present for mandatory meetings as well.

Being a leader of a remote team takes some adjusting, but if done correctly, can produce amazing results. From building a remote plan from the ground up to remaining digitally connected, we hope these tips will help you manage your team into the new year!