Working from home is now common practice for many businesses of all sizes and across many sectors, especially those in the services industry. While offering this flexibility is a no-brainer for some companies, it also requires a bit of a mind shift, especially for small business owners and managers who are new to working with their teams remotely.
Below are five tips to help you on your way to successfully leading others from home, or from anywhere at all!
1. Turn the Cameras On
Try to limit the impact of everyone not being in the same building. That means communicating “face to face” as much as possible! There are many conferencing and video sharing platforms out there and it doesn’t matter which you choose. But encourage team members to jump on video as much as possible and ensure you’re following some key best practices. Smile. Make eye contact! Not only does video allow you to see the engagement of your team, it allows them to see that you’re fully engaged as well. Save the phone calls for when you or your team member are away from the desk or if you just need to touch base quickly.
2. Pay Attention to Body Language
Take the opportunity to read how your team is doing through their postures and expressions. Does your team seem down? Tired? Happy? Do they seem engaged?
Observing these subtle movements and behaviors can give you a hint into whether you should ask more pointed questions about how working from home is treating them, and if they have anything specific that they’d like to discuss during the meeting.
Just as it’s important to see your team’s body language, it’s also important to let them see you. Make sure you’re displaying a positive message with your body language.
3. Ask Questions
When working from home, it’s easy to feel isolated and like you’re not part of a close-knit team. That’s why business owners and managers should always take a minute to check in on employees and do a quick “temperature check.”
Simply ask, how are you doing? How’s your family? How was your weekend? Do you need anything? Don’t assume that someone will share concerns with you remotely the same way they might in person. Take the initiative to ask them.
Use their responses to gauge how they’re doing mentally and emotionally. Asking may uncover some valuable feedback around workloads, team management, company culture and whether employees feel truly valued.
4. Be Prepared for Technical Difficulties
For anyone who’s switching from an in-office to work-from-home setup, technical mole hills can easily turn into mountains. Even the smallest annoyances, such as the inability to connect to email or an issue with a keyboard can be extremely frustrating when no one is physically there to help. As a leader, you have two roles here: help connect remote employees with someone who can solve the problem and be an open ear that they can vent to.
These are just four quick tips to help you get used to leading your team from a distance. Put them on a sticky note on your desk and refer to them throughout your day, especially during meetings. Leading a team can be a big change, so embrace these tips to keep your team productive and engaged.