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The Biggest Challenges of Leading Remotely

It’s easier to manage and lead a team when everyone is in front of you, and you can see what is going on more clearly. Yet, with the change to hybrid and remote working showing signs of continuing, it’s essential to brush up on the skills of leading remotely. Of course, there are challenges, and here we take a look at what they are and what you can do to overcome them.

Setting clear expectations

Don’t assume that just because expectations in the office were clear this is the case for home or hybrid workers. You may need to give more direction and guidance, especially when it comes to what you expect when it comes to responding to communications and attending virtual meetings.

Avoid micromanaging. Instead, empower your team’s belonging and accountability, so they take responsibility for getting the job done without you.

Managing productivity

Whilst remote working can improve productivity for many workers; others will struggle. They may find it difficult to keep focussed and productive with home distractions and a lack of direct in-person supervision. Set realistic goals and innovative ways to track working time and progress to help keep them on track. 

You may also face the challenge of aligning expectations of those in the office with remote workers to manage perceptions and ensure resentment over production or perceived lack of it doesn’t build. Keep everyone in the office and home up-to-date on who is responsible and doing what.

Communicate regularly

With the ability to integrate and discuss matters freely around an office, it’s essential to make time for engagement and communication with those working remotely, and these tips may help. Set aside some times of the day when you are free to engage in short sessions with remote employees to catch up and share your calendar to let them know when you are available.

Cohesive teams

It can be challenging to treat both on-site and hybrid workers equally, but it’s essential to make everything as fair as possible. Differences can cause teams to break up through resentment and will affect productivity. Find ways to include remote workers if you provide free snacks or meals during meetings to office-based employees. Find ways to extend flexible working hours to remote workers if it’s a benefit afforded to on-site workers, or recognise that remote workers do not have the travel hassles of their office-based colleagues. There are no hard and fast rules but you should seek to remove any bias.

Social interactions

Remote workers are at risk of social isolation, and loneliness is one of the most common complaints, especially from those who had transitioned to home working when they previously came to your office each day. So it’s essential to be mindful and make ways to include socially those at home, grab a virtual coffee together and chat about things that aren’t work-related as you would over a typical office coffee break. Open a chat channel that is fun and is more about inclusion and socialising than work, listen to the concerns of both those in the office and at home, and be sure to follow up, just as you would do if everyone were together. 

Lastly, lead by example. The easier and more pleasant you make it, the more work everyone is likely to get through. Perhaps learn how to become more productive yourself and share insights and experiences with all your team members no matter where they are based.

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