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Catherine vanVonno CEO and President

5 Things that business leaders shouldn’t do while working with a remote team

Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out early last year, most companies globally have shifted to a work from home set-up that allowed flexibility and convenience to employees and business leaders.
According to a recent study, people employed in a remote work setting have increased productivity than those who work in an office. Reasonably, working from home entails fewer distractions and increases work-life balance, making it easier for workers to focus more on their jobs.
It also opens up many advantages to your business, such as minimal operational costs, low turnover rates, and improved employee performance.
While it may seem to have its fair share of benefits to employees, working from home poses a few challenges to managers who are used to overseeing their team on site. The sudden shift can be mentally tricky and overwhelming since both set-ups have entirely different elements.
To reap its advantages, avoid these six mistakes when running a remote team:

  1. Micromanaging

Before deciding to manage a team remotely, you must establish ground rules and communicate your expectations as a manager. Doing so allows you to set goals and create transparency and accountability between you and your staff. However, this does not grant you the opportunity to nitpick each employee.
Micromanaging workers to ensure productivity can bring more harm than good. The reason being is that most employees value freedom and flexibility. No one wants someone breathing over their neck every single hour.
Instead of focusing on the amount of time spent working, concentrate on the production and quality. As long as your staff delivers tasks within your expectation, there is no reason to micromanage them constantly.

  1. Demanding Overtime

Working from home does not automatically translate to longer working hours. Just because you can’t oversee their work physically does not mean that you expect your team to work around the clock.
As a leader, you need to give leeway to your team in terms of time management. It all goes back to setting up clear goals and instructions. Set boundaries by establishing a schedule that fits best for you and your team. That way, they can effectively juggle work without having themselves stretched too thin by personal errands. By doing this, you decrease burn-out and maximize employee productivity.
Additionally, it is also best to communicate with your team within working hours. Don’t take advantage of the situation by texting or calling them at unreasonable hours. You have to remember that they still have a life outside work. Work and personal matters should be separate – regardless of the work setting.

  1. Poor Communication

What’s great about working in an office is the ability to socialize with your team — whether it’d be a work-related conversation or just catching up on their personal lives. In a remote work setting, though, you are limited to communicating through the phone and internet.
However, don’t let these barriers stop you from encouraging social interactions with your direct reports. As a leader, it is up to you to initiate conversations between you and your team to ensure a healthy working environment and promote camaraderie.
Set up one-on-one virtual meetings with each staff to check up on their personal and professional lives. You can also organize virtual happy hour sessions to give your team a chance to unwind after a long and stressful day.

  1. Zero Development Opportunities

If you feel that career development plans should take a back seat in a remote work setting, think again. Just because you don’t have access to face-to-face interactions does not mean that you put a stop to your team’s professional development.
A recent survey showed that employees are likely to stay in a company that fosters mentorship, training, and development.
Investing in employee career advancement retains top talent and allows your employees to unlock and hone skills that can potentially benefit your business. Look into online training courses or masterclasses that can fit the needs of your staff. You can also set up a group or one-on-one brainstorming sessions to infuse fresh ideas and encourage learning within the group.

  1. Not Utilizing Technology

There are many tools and apps out there that promote productivity and time management within your remote team.
Project management tools such as Asana, Trello, and Evernote have various benefits that can help speed up the work process and monitor project status. Meanwhile, time management programs such as Time Doctor, Hubstaff, and Clockify allow you to see how your employee manages time on a specific task.
By using technology to your advantage, you can effectively oversee a remote team successfully and efficiently. As a leader, it is your job to learn how these tools can benefit your company.
Managing a remote team is not as easy as it appears to be. Certain hurdles such as differences in time zones or technology glitches can hinder work productivity and present challenges that are uncommon in an office set-up.
While the tips listed above can help you with your remote management journey, there’s no magic pill that will make you an effective remote leader overnight. For some leaders, it might take a few months to get settled in. As a manager, it is your responsibility to learn and apply practices that can benefit your team and help you scale your business effectively while working from home.
Remember, it is a two-way street that entails a lot of trust, communication, and flexibility. As long as you foster learning and enforce a healthy working environment, you will undoubtedly see increased productivity and performance, regardless of where your team works.
About the Author
Catherine vanVonno is the CEO and President of 20four7VA, one of the fastest-growing virtual staffing companies in the world today. She is passionate about helping small business owners scale by giving them access to reliable and highly trained remote talent. She is also deeply invested in providing employment opportunities for skilled individuals from around the world. Get in touch with her on LinkedIn.