February 19, 2022
There’s no surprise that remote work has become the norm for many associations in recent years. And while vaccines are widely available and social distancing and mask mandates are mostly lifted in the U.S., remote work is here to stay. For leaders, however, this introduces a new set of challenges. From understanding what your team needs to adjusting the way you think about collaboration and productivity, modern thinking is needed to effectively manage your remote team.
Here are some top tips to be the best association leader in an increasingly dispersed world.
From the get-go, it's essential to provide clear guidelines and boundaries your team can work from. That means setting business hours and allowing your employees to manage their own work-life balance. Remote work comes with a surge in autonomy, which is great for your team's morale and productivity.
However, it does mean you run the risk of letting communication take a backseat. When in doubt, request feedback from your team and over-communicate while assigning new tasks and team goals. When your team knows what to expect from you, they’re more likely to deliver exactly the kind of work you’re looking for.
Regular Zoom meetings are an easy way to make sure the whole team is on the same page work-wise. But when it comes to team connection and collaboration, Zoom just doesn't make the cut. To make the most of your virtual meetings, consider taking a few minutes every now and then to speak spontaneously with your colleagues about their weekend activities or hold a mini-icebreaker.
You may even want to occasionally host virtual happy hours or pizza party Fridays to further bolster your team's connection. These conversations allow your team to bond on a personal level, making it easier for everyone to collaborate on work-related matters. If possible, it's also best practice to get your team together in person at least once or twice a year.
The empowerment and autonomy that remote workers gain are crucial to the success of your dispersed team. As a result, the best remote managers learn to shift their approach to office management. In the office, you wouldn't feel the need to constantly be checking over your team members' shoulders, and you shouldn't feel obligated to do so virtually either.
Micromanaging is one of the quickest ways to lower remote work productivity. After all, if employees are constantly having to reply to your emails or Slack messages, they have less time to focus on the work that matters. Focus on outcomes above all else and see yourself as a mentor rather than a direct manager.
Additionally, don't forget to schedule regular one-on-ones with your team members to check in on their progress, answer any questions, and build strong collaborative relationships. These meetings can also serve as check-ins for the emotional well-being of your employees, where they can relay any personal or professional struggles that may be impeding their productivity.
These days, there are remote working tools for nearly everything under the sun. While you don't want to overwhelm yourself and your team with dozens of software applications, using a few effective apps can help your team to better communicate and produce quality work.
Many of these software platforms, particularly project management platforms like Asana or Trello, allow you to better break down individual tasks, assign them to team members, and monitor overall project progress. These tools are instrumental in allowing you to focus on big picture items while keying your team into exactly what's expected of them.
The shift to remote work was a struggle for many associations at the beginning of the pandemic. Fortunately, now that everyone is much better equipped with the technology and know-how to work on their own terms, you can achieve results that just wouldn't be possible in the office. It all comes down to taking a clear-cut, empathetic approach to management.
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By day, Celita Summa is a Florida-based freelance writer specializing in business, technology, marketing, and a plethora of other topics. By night, Celita can be found developing her special talents, which include her black belt in karate, her fluent Italian, and her knack for vegan cooking.