The juggle of getting a hybrid working environment operationally and culturally workable is the reality of many organisations right now, and most haven’t found the perfect solution for them.
The benefits of working in remote and hybrid working models are immense, however, the challenges can also be immense. In this blog we delve into 6 things to consider to best consider how to engage and lead remote effectively.
Below are 6 things to consider in order to best support and build relationships with remote workers.
Lead with Trust
When managing remote-working employees, it should be your focus as a leader to instil trust in your team members and always assume positive intent. Leading with trust is about being transparent with employees and opening the doors for honesty and respect. It can be easy for tone to get lost in messages and email, so being transparent and trusting can help to avoid any miscommunications and scepticism arising from employees, which can lead to feelings of mistrust. It is extremely important to model these values as a leader; even when it’s difficult, understand what employees need to know whilst being supportive and understanding. When you trust your team, they’re more likely to own their role and be more engaged and productive in the process. When there is no trust there, you could find yourself micromanaging, which is never a good thing.
Make time for 1:1’s
The power of a 1 : 1, when constructed well, is to connect and understand someone on a deeper level – how they are performing, how they are feeling, how their manager may be able to support them. You can make a 1 : 1 cover any aspect of the working relationship you would like, however, a balance of commercial and cultural connection is recommended. When you have remote employees, it is vital that you don’t let the importance of 1:1’s slip your mind. By setting a rhythm, you’ll be able to open the line of communication, and help to increase trust, transparency and engagement with the employee moving forward. Make these meetings purposeful, but also personal and engaging by actively listening to the employee, giving them the chance to ask questions, get answers and voice any concerns. Avoid “talking at” your employees and treat these meetings as a two-way conversation.
Implement ‘Working with Me’ guides
In the onboarding stage, a good way to help the wider organisation better understand how to work with a remote employee is by having them create a ‘Working with Me’ guide. This should give an insight into how the employee likes to communicate, how they work best, how they like to receive feedback, and any fun facts or interesting information about them. These speeds up the lessons usually learnt over time through informal conversations by being explicit through documentation, and in turn enables your employees to work together more effectively and find mutual interests.
Happiness and Engagement surveys
When you have remote employees, the last thing you want to do is make them feel like they’re being forgotten about or unincluded in the events that make up the workplace culture. Having a way to simply ask your employees how they’re feeling can make a big difference. This is where happiness and engagement surveys come into play. If you are sub 30 people, your leaders should have a good handle on how people are going. However, the larger, and/or more disparate your team are, the harder it is to have a true sense of how everyone is feeling. By allowing your employees to be share their opinions and feelings via a survey, you can identify areas where your employees may be unhappy and make changes accordingly. When conducting these surveys, be purposeful in what you ask, and be clear about what you will do with the information. Every question you ask implies that you’re going to act based on the answers you receive, so ensuring that you respond to what is shared is the best way to maximise the potential benefits of increasing employee engagement and satisfaction in the workplace.
Virtual Company All-Hands
Communication is key to a positive workplace culture, and holding regular company all-hands are a great way for the team to share their wins and any updates moving forward. When you have remote employees however, it is vital that these are held virtually so that everyone is logging in from the same place, and remote employees don’t have to Zoom in to a boardroom full of office-based employees. Ensuring these all-hands are virtual emphasises that everyone is no more or less part of the team and provides for a transparent experience for all employees.
Don’t make it all about work
Of course, getting the work done is important, but you should also take advantage of the opportunity for team building including all remote and office-based employees. A simple way to do this is to create a dedicated space for informal conversation amongst your employees, such as a dedicated Teams or Slack channel. Encourage employees to post regularly – topics could include what they got up to on the weekend, sharing recipes, or pictures of their pets. This encourages employees to share more about themselves and their lives outside of work, find common interests and become more engaged with the team.
There are clear benefits to remote and hybrid working models; giving the opportunity for employees to work from anywhere and making way for greater flexibility and a better work/life balance, and for employers; the ability to find and hire top talent without the boundaries of geographical location at play. However, with these benefits come challenges for CEOs, Heads of People & Culture, and anyone leading a team.
To reap the benefits that remote workers can bring to your organisation, it is vital that you put in the work to effectively support them, which can be a completely new, and somewhat daunting, challenge in comparison to office-based employees. But without putting in the work, you risk creating a poor employee experience which can then lead to high levels of employee turnover. From onboarding to communication and management, you want your workplace to be feel supporting, clear, and therefore, engaging.
To find out more, get in touch with our team today to find out more about how our experts can help your organisation with supporting and building relationships with it’s remote workers.