It’s safe to say that remote working is here to stay. The shock impact of the 2020 global pandemic left many businesses with no alternative but to send their staff home immediately and complete their daily tasks via digital communication. Almost overnight an entire workforce was set up to complete operations, whilst locked down in their homes own…and for many organisations, it turned out to be an extremely productive and cost-effective turn of events.
Prior to Covid-19, IWG Global Workplace conducted a survey in 2019, consisting of 15,000 business people from 80 nations. Its findings identified that 61% of global companies at that time, allowed their staff to have some sort of remote working policy.
From a business perspective, the list of positives to this shift in the industry is endless, however, some have adapted better than others to the new way of working. There’s no commute, greater flexibility and you can reduce distractions, but on the flip-side working remotely requires a lot of self-discipline, can be lonely and you can lose some of your living space.
If you’re in the process of studying for a business degree or thinking about starting one, the likelihood is that you will encounter remote working to some degree in the future. If aiming for a senior management or leadership role within a business, it’s time to start thinking about how to become an effective leader whilst working with a team online.
Here are some points to consider:
Implement routine activities
It’s estimated that only 50% of professionals know and understand their expectations at work. Lack of clarity can have a significant impact on engagement and productivity. In order to ensure commitment and focus from a team of remote workers, it’s important to include everyone in all business development activities. Establishing regular team meetings, check in’s, project launches and debriefs will help to install a communicative working culture and present opportunities for team members to gain reassurance with their role and responsibilities.
Ensure that your team are empowered and have a purpose
Empowering employees is the most effective way to earn their trust. When, as a leader, you are experiencing pressures from business needs, it’s easy to fall into the trap of micromanaging your team in order to retain control of the situation. This can often have the opposite effect, causing distrust and frustration. These emotions are enhanced by a remote working environment, where there are limited opportunities for people to offload these emotions.
Investing more time into delegating the right tasks to the right people, involving them in decision making and pinpointing opportunities for their personal growth within the role, will be influential towards each team member establishing their reason for being there.
Pay extra attention when communicating with others
The age-old rule states that only 7% of communication is received through words. 38% is through tone of voice and 55% is through body language. That automatically presents a big disadvantage when trying to communicate with others remotely. Mastering the art of balanced communication is a challenge. Over communicating can disengage a team, under communicating can create uncertainty and miscommunication can lead to frustration. The best approach is full transparency. Communicate any changes to the focus or direction of the business to the team directly, no matter how big or small. Follow this up with a one-to-one meeting, to provide everyone with a safe space to say what’s on their mind.
Not everyone responds well to the same type of communication and the dynamic of working remotely emphasises this. Take the time to learn about your team, build a short profile on each of them so that you have a reference point to consult prior to entering into a discussion with them, particularly with a sensitive issue.
It can feel like doing these things will take up time that you just don’t have as a busy leader, but it will certainly pay off in the long run. A happy and content team will deliver results and limit the number of additional problems for you to contend with.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance…and practise it too
It’s never been more important to promote and encourage your team to live a healthy work-life balance. However many people still struggle to detach and take time out, due to modern-day work pressures and instant access to work communications outside of working hours. It’s proven that taking regular breaks from work duties will improve the quality of work produced. Establishing a healthy balance stems from the culture within the organisation, in particular the actions of those at the top. If, as a leader, you’re seen to be sending late-night emails, some of your team will start naturally mimicking that behaviour. If you are then seen to acknowledge or praise someone for responding to something outside of core hours, that starts to carve a wedge between those that have decided to switch off for the night. As a leader, set the example and voice the importance and benefits of stepping away once the working day is done. Your team will be energised with feelings of stress and burnout significantly reduced!
Identify individual strengths within the team and utilise them
The beauty of working with a team is that you gain access to a collective of skills, knowledge and experience. Historically an individual is recruited for a role and given specific tasks to do. But that individual may harbour an additional set of skills that could prove productive elsewhere in the business. Taking the time to get to know your team can identify where individuals might be better placed within the business or with additional tasks. This should in turn improve both productivity and motivation for individuals who are utilising more of their skills.
Ask for feedback on yourself
You may think that you are doing a great job as a leader, however, your peers may be thinking very differently. The best way to know for sure is to invite your team to offer feedback and guidance on your performance.
Opening yourself up to discovering how others feel about you will improve emotional intelligence and aid your own personal growth. If you, as a leader, are visibly seeking improvement, it will encourage those around you to do the same. Honesty and self-awareness will make you a more personable leader who can connect with their team…even on a remote basis.
Studying for a business degree provides the perfect setting to practise and improve leadership skills. SSBR’s professionally active faculty provide insights into the real world of business whilst delivering the course material. Our aim is to have students fully prepared to thrive within a leadership role upon completion of their degree. As our programmes are completed entirely online, you’ll gain first-hand experience of remote working and have the opportunity to become highly skilled at online communication and leadership.
Find out more about our online Bachelor, Master and Doctorate business degrees by getting in touch with one of our friendly team: