Remote Leadership: Building Trust and Connection From Afar
If you’re a fully remote worker, whether that be with a company, as an entrepreneur with your own business, or otherwise, you know well that leadership looks different when you aren’t in person with your colleagues and team members all of the time.
At the crux of all remote work is trust. Trust that the people alongside you are capable, intelligent, and dedicated to the tasks at hand. This focal point of trust often scares people, namely people in positions of leadership, because it operates off of the assumption that people don’t need to be micromanaged in order to be effective and successful.
In fact, it supports the idea that people do their best work when they are free to work in the cadence, time frame, and environment that works best for them.
Listen, we aren’t here to debate whether working in person or working remotely is superior. This debate is frankly very worn out and comes down to what works on an individual level for all of us. We all have our preferences and that’s the beautiful thing about life!
However, being a fully remote company with team members across the world, remote leadership is something we think about often. How can we all be leaders (not just people in positions of management, all of us) and collaborate effectively to remain fulfilled and motivated in what we are trying to accomplish together?
As we said earlier, trust is at the center of remote work relationships, but there is more at play here than just trust. Here are some more ways you can be the best remote employee, team, or entrepreneur that you can be:
Communicate: Communication plays an extremely important role in remote leadership. Emphasize the importance of regular check-ins, team meetings, and one-on-one conversations. Make sure everyone on the team, including yourself, is aware of other’s preferred communication tools and formats. Set expectations for responsiveness and providing feedback.
Form Personal Relationships: Knowing and understanding each other on a personal level aids our ability to work together. We aren’t saying to reveal all the details of your personal life to your colleagues or employees. We are saying, however, to take the time to get to know people as people, first and foremost.
Respect Boundaries: If you know it can wait and the person you want to email has finished their workday, save it for tomorrow. Ask people about their boundaries and respect them. This one is vital in maintaining the overarching sense of trust that remote work relies upon.
Measure Success and Outcomes: Have goals and talk about them as they change or evolve. If there are specific things to be done, articulate them and keep track of the progress. It can be easier to talk about changes in plans when you’re in person and requires a little more thought when operating remotely.
Resolve Conflict: If there’s one thing that will throw a wrench in a well-running remote work scenario, it’s unresolved conflict. So much can get lost in a Slack message or email! If there is a point of conflict, raise and resolve it so everyone can move forward.
Being a skilled professional in a remote setting is a huge asset in today’s landscape. Do your team members and yourself the favor of being a leader in both settings!