The COVID-19 outbreak accelerated existing trends in remote work and now even with the pandemic at its last stage, a large population still continues to telework.
In a recent FlexJobs survey of over 2,100 people worldwide, 65 percent of respondents said they want to keep working remotely full-time even after COVID ends. One in three preferred a hybrid arrangement involving some office work and some days at home. A mere two percent said they were looking forward to working in an office full-time again.
When it comes to leading a virtual team, you encounter its own set of challenges. You may unknowingly make mistakes that could cost you your employees’ overall productivity and happiness.
Let’s look at the three biggest and most common mistakes that you may unintentionally make when leading a team virtually:
Mistake#1 — Not Putting Together a Game Plan
Shifting to remote work may require considerable time and a proper strategy. When holding remote-work planning sessions, you should establish crystal clear expectations about the goals and priorities that need to be focused on while working remotely. Plus, it is imperative to clearly state who will be responsible for what and what the deadlines are.
Most employees crave routine, structure and predictability. So to avoid any uncertainty, it is also important to make sure the team members understand what is expected of them. Make sure your team has the same level of clarity as they had when they worked in the office environment.
Mistake #2 — Not Setting the Standard for Your Team
Are you one of those managers who strictly tell their team to show up on time but themselves show up 15 minutes late? Or one of those who preach work-life balance but then shoot off emails to their team all weekend? Well, if you can relate, you’re making a huge blunder.
One of the most terrible mistakes you can make when leading a team virtually is to talk the talk without walking the walk. And sending such type of mixed messages isn’t going to work if you want your remote team to thrive.
Your team is going to rely on you in terms of setting the standard for what’s acceptable and what’s not within the organization. So it is necessary that you epitomize the values that you want to inspire within your team.
Mistake #3 — Disregarding the Social Needs of Your Team
Since we are social beings, working remotely may develop feelings of loneliness or hopelessness when maintaining social distancing. As a matter of fact, the Gallup Organization revealed that 21% of remote workers say “loneliness” is the biggest struggle they face.
As a leader, the responsibility of creating a sense of community while working remotely falls upon you. If you fail to do so, your team may find their motivation faltering, which in turn results in them losing their interest in the work. Nevertheless, the efforts to address the social needs of your team members shouldn’t be based on your selfish desire to maintain productivity levels. It is just what you should be doing for those entrusted to you in a time of crisis.
You may utilize chat apps and video conferences to keep the employees engaged with each other throughout the day. Continue to share your own thoughts about working remotely and ask others what’s working for them and what’s not. And then see how you can contribute to improving the whole remote working situation.