Look, we’re all sick of hearing about COVID but we can’t deny the monumental changes it has made to our lives – especially when it comes to work.

Working from home is no longer an idea but rather a choice and a new-norm. While many employees and employers adapted really quickly, some didn’t.

However, remote work isn’t going away so it’s important to not only adapt how you work but also adapt your leadership skills and style.

a cup of coffee next to a work diary with a work from home to do list

Work From Home is In

Before diving into how to be an effective leader while working remotely, it’s important to note why working from home is the way forward and also why it might not work for you.

Two years into the pandemic and employers and employees alike are continuing to adapt to this lifestyle. There are several benefits to working from home which include –

  • No commute time
  • Less unnecessary meetings or work distractions
  • Cutting costs on rent, transport and lunch purchases
  • Working with other professionals outside of your location
  • Flexibility with work hours
  • Tax benefits for employees
  • Having a better work life balance

On the other side of the scale, there are cons to working from home.

  • Less connection with other employees
  • Lack of access to information and learning from other team members
  • Burn-out and an ‘always on’ culture can occur
  • Employee loneliness
  • Home distractions such as small children, home schooling and/or chores

Knowing the cons or the downfalls of working from home means that you can take effective steps in your leadership role to keep your employees happy.

How to Be An Effective Leader when working remotely

It’s a misconception that if you can see your employees then they must be working. On so many occasions it’s been proven that you don’t need an official office space to have proactive employees.

So, how can you be an effective leader in this new era of remote office work?

1. Trust & Independence for your employees

Do you trust that your employees will get their tasks done on time? Do away with ‘monitoring’ tools or all-day Zoom calls and rather put your faith in that employees want to do their jobs.

You should be measuring your employees’ quality of work over how many hours they’re ‘chained to their desks’.

By giving your team the independence to work when and how they see fit and the trust that they’ll finish their tasks within their deadlines, your productivity and employee satisfaction will grow.

2. Open Communication

While trust is important, some form of group communication and interaction between you and your employees is a must. Having a platform like Skype, Slack, Teams or something similar is key.

However, you don’t need to be on top of your employees all day, especially if there’s nothing urgent. Schedule a weekly meeting where everyone gets together to discuss active projects and tasks – then leave them to work.

Ask employees to greet/check-in when they start their day and say goodbye at the end of their day – something as easy as an emoji or a casual ‘hi, I’m here’, just to acknowledge your presence and for them to be accountable each day.

work leader communicating with employees through a virtual call

3. Have an efficient strategy in place

Just like you would in an office setting, having precise goals, outcomes and a set process in place to achieve them is key.

By changing your focus from an ‘hours worked’ approach to small, attainable goals holds employees accountable to realistic expectations. Most importantly, measurable metrics should be open and transparent for all employees and should always be flexible and adaptable.

4. Task management software

Remote work means that employees are accountable for their own workload and it needs to be managed. All you need to do is take into account your goals, tasks needed to reach them and the timeline allocated for the job – and structure the work accordingly.

Be sure to choose a clear task-management tool/software that allows employees and managers to –

  • See attainable goals for the business
  • Lists the tasks required to reach the goals
  • What potential or future work is coming up
  • Deadlines for tasks and overall goals
  • View what work has been completed

5. Invest in employees with technology, tools & learning

In BC (Before Covid) times, you might have set up a coffee machine, pool table or team lunches for your employees. However, with everyone working remotely, you now save money on those aspects which can be used to invest in your employees in different ways.

If you’re in a position to do so, supplying your employees with their own hardware and software to do their jobs is an ideal solution.

Some ideas include –

  • Supplying laptops and/or office chairs
  • Subsidizing Internet fees
  • Creating a corporate account for learning platforms to improve soft skills
  • Paying for integral software for their work capacity
  • Offering subscriptions for mental health apps

It’s about Work-Life Balance

a business woman leader struggling with work life balance

You know that you have a positive work environment when your employees can come to you with their problems. As part of your leadership style, there are two additional points to ensure your success and your employees happiness.

1. Proactively check in with employees one-on-one

While working from home has some incredible benefits, there are cons as well – loneliness or being overwhelmed are some of them.

It’s important to check in with employees – not just for work but for their mental health as well. Schedule a bi-weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings with your team members to openly discuss all aspects of the job and life outside.

2. Stay Human

Compassion and empathy towards employees are vital. It’s easy to feel disconnected from your team when you don’t see them face-to-face, which can impact your expectations of your team.

Whether it’s a task-related issue or a mental health situation, be sure to connect with the problem from a human perspective and think to yourself – if you had the same problem, how would you like your boss to respond?

Be the Leader you Needed

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, as a leader when you tap into your emotional intelligence you learn to uplift your remote employees which will benefit your business and your team.

As someone once said, be the leader you needed when you were a junior.

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