76% of global employees want to continue working from home, which could be challenging for team managers and leaders. It’s not just a matter of using more technologies or looking for a better application for online meetings, but also having knowledge of how working remotely changed our behavior patterns and understanding the work value — what people want from work and what they are willing to give in return, said Diana Blažaitienė, a remote work expert and the founder of Soprana Personnel International, a recruitment and personnel rent solutions agency.
As an expert in the field, she believes that even after more than two years of experience working remotely, managers still need to be aware of many ways in which remote work differs from working in the office.
The expert shared four of the most common problems, which remote team managers still experience, and gave advice on what to do about them.
- Irregular check-ins and delayed meetings
According to the expert, communication plays a crucial role while working remotely. Team and one-on-one calls should be included in the company’s work calendar. The important detail is to make the calls regular and predictable.
“For managers, who are leading remote teams, discipline is a highly important skill, especially when talking about meetings with employees. Unfortunately, a lot of leaders are not persistent and tend to postpone scheduled calls and that’s how employees find time for side hustles or feel neglected and left alone with their tasks. Companies should put meetings on the calendar, where everybody can see them and let employees know that they will have to check it first thing in the morning. This way managers discipline themselves too,” said Ms. Blažaitienė.
- Lack of feedback or no feedback at all
The expert emphasized that when talking about challenges employees are facing, feedback is not only about helping them to recognize the areas where they can improve in order to achieve professional growth. It is also a great way to strengthen relationships and gain employees’ trust. However, managers have to remember that those one-on-one talks have to highlight workers’ strengths and victories too.
“Many employees see one-on-one talks with leaders as a sign of attention, appreciation, and motivation, which is so important when working remotely. One of the reasons so many people named, when asked about why they changed their jobs during the pandemic, was the lack of feedback. To make giving feedback a habit, managers should plan the time for it and put it in their monthly to-do list,” commented Ms. Blažaitienė.
- Not delegating tasks
Leaders who are good at delegating, generate 33% higher revenue, therefore sharing tasks is considered one of the most successful employee engagement strategies. Although, Ms. Blažaitienė believes that even for those who manage teams working at the offices, delegating is a hard skill to put into practice. And the most common reason is thinking that it would take longer to explain the task to employees than actually completing it themselves.
“When working remotely, sharing tasks becomes even much harder and more energy-consuming. So next time, when dealing with important requests via email, managers should try to include all team members, whose expertise can be useful. This way team leaders will train their task sharing skills, and employees will feel valued and included,” said Ms. Blažaitienė.
- Being inattentive to newly hired employees
Employees hired since March 2020 are more likely to leave their employer the coming year (56% versus 38%). “Obviously those numbers are related to having weaker relationships with team members, especially if the company was not working remotely or in a hybrid style before the pandemic. Also, another reason is not enough attention from the team leader as newly onboarded employees need more guidance and to build trust in the manager,” the expert said.
According to Ms. Blažaitienė, assigning a work buddy — someone who will help to have a fluent onboarding process, advice on daily tasks, and introduce the new colleague to other team members — is an effective way to solve the problem.
Even though remote and hybrid work models remain challenging, they open companies up to a world of talent and also give more opportunities for employees. “There were over 35% more inquiries about looking for remotely working specialists from Scandinavian and German companies in recent months. Obviously, the application of this work model is still growing, so the only way for organizations to succeed is to adapt new management methods,” commented Diana Blažaitienė.