Leadership has taken on new challenges with the need to lead not only those that are in the same location, but to effective manage time zone differences, have an understanding (and appreciation) of cultural differences, and keep onsite and remote team members engaged, informed, and productive.

Global Workplace Analytics conducted a survey and summarized the following trends for working remotely:

  • The non self-employed working population has grown by 103% since 2005 and 6.5% in 2014.
  • 3.7 million employees (2.5% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
  • 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-
  • 25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency.
  • Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile. Studies repeatedly show they are not at their desk 50-60% of the time.

Leadership has challenges, and it becomes even more challenging when leading from a distance.

What does this mean to you as a leader?

As a leader, regardless of where your staff is located, common goals must be clearly understood, team members must value one another’s strengths, roles and expectations must be clearly defined, with communication skills continually honed.

  • Don’t communicate just the bare minimum.
    • Share what is expected of each individual and each location and include the “big picture” and desired results. Ensure all interactions end with closure. This means that everyone involved knows who is going to do what when.
  • Become tech-savvy.
    • Utilize the latest technology to keep in touch and better position your team to build relationships, synergy, and become a high performing team.
  • Check in regularly with each team member.
    • You’ll find that some are happy to hear from you only if you/they need something, where others may want more frequent contact (weekly if not daily).
  • Revisit the team goals and objectives.
    • Use “here’s where we are” statements, ask questions, and invite everyone to share their opinion and thoughts about the progress that is being made.
  • Ask your direct reports what they’d like to hear about and ask for their feedback as to whether you are keeping them adequately informed.
  • Create a checklist detailing what information needs to go to whom.
    • Determine how the team will work together. What are the dependencies?
    • Expect conflict and encourage healthy differences.
    • Establish best practices; set and communicate expectations and reward and recognize accordingly. (This could include a list of characteristics associated with high-performing teams, and development planning to address any gaps).
    • Leverage email to communicate general information; use your checklist to aid with identifying whether the entire team needs to be in the loop or not. When in doubt, over-communicate.

Support and “sell” your team! Keep your boss and other leaders informed of your teams’ accomplishments and successes! Your team members may not be onsite, but their presence and value must be known.

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