When the pandemic struck, leaders became concerned about the potential changes and challenges that would arise in the new normal. Some of them found it difficult to transition from an onsite to remote working because they needed to adjust, which also meant taking on new responsibilities. Some of the issues encountered include a lack of supervision, employee isolation, and a lack of information access.
According to a 2021 survey of employees and business executives conducted by professional services firm PwC, 83% of employers said their company's shift to remote work has been successful.
A remote working environment differs from a traditional workplace, it is where employees work in their individual spaces while remaining connected to their colleagues. In this type of environment, virtual leaders are essential for achieving organizational goals, mission, and improving productivity and profitability.
When it comes to managing remote teams, there are various things a leader should consider due to the insufficient control over different situations where both verbal communication and physical interactions are limited. Good thing is that there are different effective leadership strategies that will assist leaders to improve communication and team productivity such as Transformative leadership that influence and transform the perspectives and beliefs of the followers; Transactional leadership that prioritizes the interests of the followers; Situational leadership in which the leader acts as per the demand of the situation; and Authoritative leadership in which a leader must be authoritative.
However, leadership style depends on the team and what the industry needs. For example, a participative leadership may not be necessary for a team that does not require everyone's input on every decision in order to move the business forward. Understanding what works and what doesn't is much more important for the team to succeed.
On top of that, the importance of leadership in remote work setup must be recognized before everything else. This can be summarized as under:
1. Communication and Collaboration
By establishing regular collaborations with the employees, smooth flow of communication is enabled. Remote working is already complicated, but with an effective leader, everything will go swimmingly.
2. Encouraging Teamwork and Coordination
These two are activated by effective leaders through virtual interactive sessions. These include encouraging video collaborations, providing and collecting feedback, instilling a sense of normalcy, and carrying out interactive exercises or activities to relieve tension and/or stress.
3. Improving Productivity through Virtual Training and Workshop
Isolation among spatially separated employees will be avoided; video conferencing, interactive websites, and providing them with extensive resources are some of the methods to improve their productivity.
4. Problem Solving among Team Members
Leaders’ emotional intelligence and influencing capacity plays an important role; these can serve as a mental support and aid in the prevention of employee distrust.
5. Ensuring Employees Wellbeing
Leaders should ensure, instill and provide activities, programs and experiences for employees despite working remotely. One of the silver linings the pandemic brought about is the realization of the importance of health and holistic wellbeing (mind, body and soul).
This type of environment reveals leaders who are adaptable and capable of leading the entire team. You may notice that challenges during remote working were handled professionally and efficiently due to their different leadership styles and approaches.
Nothing is more powerful than applying what is learned.
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