Americans are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. With 95 percent of workers considering changing jobs and 92 percent saying they would switch industries to find the right position, (Monster.com), this mass exodus has even been given a name: “The Great Resignation.” Employees became accustomed to remote work during the pandemic and, now that it’s over, they still want to be able to determine where and when to work.
This is extremely important for employers to recognize moving forward, because working remotely unlocks the potential for a greater quality of life.
If your employee has the freedom to work at a coffee shop or outside on a nice day, it can vastly improve their outlook and dedication to the company. In my personal experience, this can also improve employees’ mental health and work-life balance. With work being an essential part of life, I find it crucial to help shape opportunities for my employees to create an environment to do their best work possible.
But in order for remote work to be successful for the employer, leaders need to know how to manage their remote workforce successfully.
Leading a remote workforce starts from the top-down. As an executive without an in-person presence with your team, you’re required to do more to keep your employees connected and engaged while developing trust. Company culture also becomes increasingly important, given that a remote workplace makes it more difficult to connect with your employees.
How to successfully lead a remote workforce
• Establish trust with your employees.
The most fundamental goal you can have as a leader in a remote workforce is to establish trust within your company. Trust is the only thing that can really make collaboration work. That means being transparent about the company as a whole.
For example, I host a quarterly meeting with my entire company. In this meeting, I am completely truthful about where we are as an entity, and this includes our financial outlook as well. I think it is very important for employees to know what is going on with a company since their livelihood depends on.
In addition to this, I also have weekly meetings with my upper management to keep them and their teams up to date.
I also encourage employee growth with opportunities for greater success. This includes company-funded training to increase their skills and knowledge within their position.
• Empower employees to become the CEOs of their own positions.
In a remote workplace, it’s key for employees to take ownership of their actions, be solution-oriented and hold themselves accountable. When employees can put together their own path for growth and find the sweet spot to fit their talents, that will create a culture of ownership across the entire team. Solution-oriented people proactively seek answers to questions on their own versus waiting around for someone to get them the answer.
After all, one of the reasons many employees choose a remote position is because they want to have more autonomy. As a leader, your goal should be to encourage that autonomy and give your employees the power to make their own decisions, knowing that they will learn along the way.
• Focus on important KPIs in meetings that move the needle forward.
Don’t have a meeting just to have a meeting. If you have an hour-long meeting with three employees, that takes away three hours of work from three unique people. While department managers may need to meet daily to discuss strategy and management, other mid-level employees may find it more useful to meet weekly.
When you have these weekly meetings, steer the conversation toward something that can actually move the needle. Ask your employees about the “one big thing” they need help with and address any roadblocks they may be facing. Since you have less “face time” with employees, make sure you’re transparent in your communications and be open and honest. You have to be comfortable having uncomfortable conversations.
• Train employees to set up an optimal work-from-home space.
The actual environment that your remote employees work in is a key factor to their success. Have you ever been on a Zoom call or conference call and you struggle to hear an employee because of background noise? Immediately the conversation feels less productive and that can lead to other employees tuning out.
Right from the start, set up a time to train employees on how they can be most productive at home. It’s important to find a place with minimal distractions, ideally a specific room or corner of the house that has a desk. It also goes a long way if you can equip employees with a high-quality camera, ring light and microphone.
Finally, innovative technology is essential when you have an entirely remote workforce, especially to facilitate collaboration. There are countless productivity and organizational tools that aid with project management and communication. These tools only work if you have full buy-in, so make sure every team member across every department utilizes the technology.