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The Ultimate Guide to Leading a Remote Workforce (2020 Edition)

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The current coronavirus situation has caused the majority of businesses to go remote (the ones that could afford and manage to do so, anyway). Despite only a few companies being able to adapt to this sudden shift in a flash, there are still numerous benefits of this working model just waiting to be reaped.

Reduced stress, more autonomy, and fewer distractions are but some of the perks workers cite when it comes to telecommuting. It’s no wonder then that the number of businesses that allow remote work has increased by 40%, regardless of the pandemic at hand.

Hence, remote work obviously has its fair share of benefits, but leading an entire team of telecommuters is another challenge entirely. Even worse, this role has been unwittingly thrust on many of us, leaving us unsure of how to handle it successfully. 

So, how can you manage a remote workforce without losing productivity?

Let’s boil it down to the essentials.

Communication Is Key

People working in offices quickly realized that they have a hard time adjusting to a remote setting. Odds are they’ve grown accustomed to the office environment — chatting and cooperating with coworkers in person. All of a sudden, they found themselves extremely isolated due to the current lockdown.

That’s why having a 24/7 open line of communication, both for groups and for one-on-one conversations for each individual employee, is so crucial. Maintaining communication with everyone in the team will make sure nobody feels out of the loop.

You should make video group calls as often as possible in order to get everyone up to speed on current projects, and more importantly, to just hang out for a short while. Perhaps you could even try some fun virtual team building activities. Apart from that, everyone should get regular feedback on their work and ask whether they need anything to make their work clearer and easier.

Keep Your Goals Well-Defined and Realistic

As you can see, communication is pretty much the central theme in leading a remote team (which is also the case with any other team, is it not?). As such, one of your main priorities as a remote leader is to guide everyone toward concrete goals.

Every benchmark should be well-defined, every person should be given a deadline to complete their duties (which should also be precisely laid out), and if anything remains unclear, it should be addressed swiftly without delay.

Use the Right Tools 

When your entire team is worlds apart, the technology you use to stay operational becomes the backbone of your whole business. To that end, you should facilitate the right tools for effective communication and workflow management.

Platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams are excellent all-around tools designed particularly for this purpose. They have all sorts of great functions that allow your team to parse out every detail of a given project and systematically complete each and every one.

Keep Away From Micromanaging

Once your entire team suddenly shifts to a remote setting, you may find handling it difficult at first. Chances are your first instinct will be to hand-hold your team members the entire time. It makes sense on an intuitive level, after all — you can’t interact with them the usual way, so you want to make sure everyone keeps up the regular pace.

However, this could prove stifling, which will make your team members less productive overall. A near-instantaneous change in working modes turns lives upside down. People suddenly have to balance house responsibilities with their work, and odds are that they can’t adhere to the regular 9-to-5 model.

To that end, don’t insist on checking up on everyone all the time and keeping them under a microscope. Once a day should be enough to keep tabs on things. Rather, placing an emphasis on results instead of working hours will prove much better. Have faith that your team will meet deadlines and rise to the challenge.