Three Guiding Principles for Leading Remote Teams

To unlock the potential of working from home, we must redefine the way we lead, manage, and coach.

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Author: Gabriela Mauch, Head of ActivTrak’s productivity lab.

With lists sweeping the web of various ways to be effective, productive, and happy while working from home, we thought it would be beneficial to advise from a different angle — an angle that we, as leaders here at ActivTrak, think about on a daily basis. Because, while it’s important that each individual consider the best ways to work from home, it’s even more important that leaders and managers create work environments that accommodate at-home practices while still driving critical business outcomes.

We chatted with leaders, within our company and beyond, about remote workforce management. Here are three essential principles for leaders aiming to build and sustain a remote or hybrid workplace post-pandemic that inspires innovation, drives engagement and cultivates success.   

1. Trust & Transparency

Managing in a hybrid or remote work environment is a likely change for your organization in some capacity. Perhaps it was something that was adopted during the pandemic, but the environment six months ago looks vastly different than it does today. With travel on the rise and restaurants reaching maximum capacity, it’s clear that people, while still working remotely, now have significantly different working conditions. Some may opt to work from a vacation home, while others may elect to work from a coffee shop or co-working space. 

We now face competing priorities at all hours and in far greater abundance. This is not a reason to bring the workforce back to the office, but it is a reason to promote an environment of trust and transparency in which employees feel comfortable sharing their work schedules, at-home commitments, and their optimal focus time. When we allow for this information to be shared openly, we encourage an environment that maximizes people’s strengths and remains inclusive. Trust and transparency are key to fostering a productivity improvement culture.  

Curious about how to have these conversations with your teams? Consider running a “Ways of Working” discussion with your team to further understand how and when they work best.

2. Strategy Alignment & Accountability

With the workforce now distributed either entirely or for a portion of the week, it has become essential for organizations to ensure a clear strategy is communicated from leaders at the top. From there, we recommend establishing OKRs (objectives & key results) that can be cascaded throughout the organization so that each team and individual understands how their work contributes to the company’s overarching mission. 

Accountability for these OKRs is then set by each manager to help ensure work is completed on time so that other functions can execute on their work. Flexible work arrangements demand tight alignment and clearly established responsibilities. 

Here at ActivTrak, we rely on a software tool, Lattice, to help us set and track OKRs, establish deadlines, and provide performance feedback in order to facilitate greater accountability and results.

3. Explore how managing and coaching have changed

Your organization is undergoing considerable change in its shift to the hybrid and remote work environment. This statement is true for those businesses that had remote practices in place before the pandemic and for those driven to experiment with it for the first time in response to the pandemic. For this reason, it’s important to remind ourselves as leaders that change takes time, thoughtful planning, and continuous two-way communication between managers and employees. 

Managing and coaching look different now. What we once identified in a meeting room, we must decipher from behind web-conferencing applications, messaging tools, and productivity metrics. 

Here at ActivTrak, our managers leverage our own workforce analytics platform to analyze productivity data so they can understand when employees are most engaged in their work, if they are taking sufficient breaks (which we highly encourage throughout the day!), and where they may need additional support.

Our managers review the most important productivity metrics daily, weekly, and monthly to assist their teams in providing the tailored, timely, and relevant support their employees need, and that they otherwise cannot see in remote settings. 

In addition to using workforce productivity analytics, read more about some of our tips and tricks for remote workforce management here.

Leading the change

While employees will spend much of this year learning how to better balance their hybrid and remote workplace in a post-pandemic world, we as leaders must first and foremost, remain patient during the change. Challenges are frequent and to be expected throughout culture shifts and we must embrace them while guiding our organizations through to the other side. 

With the increasingly competitive talent landscape, hybrid and remote work environments will be a part of the future that we cannot ignore. Instead, we can embrace open cultures, clearer strategy and direction, and perhaps above all, an openness to improved management and coaching practices

Other helpful resources:

Blog: Creating a Culture Where Productivity Can Thrive

Blog: How to Hold a Ways of Working Discussion with Your Team

Blog: 10 Tips to Effectively Manage a Hybrid Team

Blog: 5 Tips for Leaders to Improve Workforce Productivity

Blog: Work from Home Tips and Tools for Employees

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About ActivTrak and The Productivity Lab

ActivTrak helps companies unlock productivity potential. Our award-winning workforce productivity and analytics software provides expert insights that empower people, optimize processes, and maximize technology. With data sourced from more than 8,500 customers and 250,000 users, ActivTrak’s Productivity Lab is a global center for ground-breaking workforce productivity research and expertise that helps companies embrace and embody the future of work.

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