After working remotely for 20 years,

Mary Mesaglio has valuable observations in her Smarter with Gartner blog post, “How to Lead Better Remote Meetings.” Mesaglio writes, “one important caveat

before we begin: everybody’s different. That sounds obvious, but here’s why it’s important. It’s our experience that remote working tends to exacerbate personal and cultural differenc- es. Leaders need to be cognizant of that.” For instance, is your culture comfortable

with silence? With interruptions? With jokes? These kinds of expressions will be magnified in remote interactions. One of the most important—and some-

times difficult—shifts in thinking remote managers need to practice is defined by Gartner in its “9 Tips for Managing Remote Employees” blog post as a “focus on outputs, not processes.” Generally, in remote work, the “how” doesn’t matter as much as the “why.” If

someone is changing loads of laun-

dry between work tasks, wearing pajamas off-camera, or keeping different kinds of hours, a manager may need to pull back her need for control and substitute instead clear objectives and ways to measure them.

Checking in While remote working may seem inherently less stressful than commuting and dressing up for the office, remote workers can suffer from increased stress and anxiety as well. The first step is to be sure employees have

the supplies and technology to do their jobs productively. But beyond this, managers need to keep an eye out for signs of distress. Remote workers can begin to feel “out of sight, out of mind.” One way of managing this is through

check-ins with remote employees. Having these regularly scheduled is a good idea, be- cause it helps bring structure to the day. But they need to be meaningful, says Chopik. Practice responsive listening: getting at

what events and occurrences mean to peo- ple Chopik says. For example: • How did that make you feel when you heard that you got the promotion?

• What’s it like being a grandparent for the first time?

• Is this something you’ve always wanted? “Sometimes there’s a hesitation about

asking these kinds of things, but it builds a stronger connection between people.”

Keeping work collaborative With the emphasis on teams at work only getting stronger in the past few years, it might feel like having employees physically separated could bring that to a halt. But it doesn’t have to, says time management expert Elizabeth Grace Saunders, in her Harvard Business Review article “Four Tips for Virtual Collaboration.” “The purpose behind team collaboration

isn’t for you to always be available,” Saun- ders points out. “Instead, it’s to make sure that you and

your team are aligned on your goals and most effectively moving ahead in accom- plishing them. You can collaborate effective- ly from far apart, even when you have an incredible amount to do, if you collaborate with intention and focus.” Saunders writes about a trend toward

“side-by-side” remote work, where two people work on a project at the same time during a video call. They can ask questions and clarify issues more easily—and it gives each worker company, reinforcement, and what Saunders calls “positive peer pressure” that helps both people be more productive. When working asynchronously, it’s vital

that all expectations and communications be clear: Deadlines, what you want from reviewers, and comments on a document can all be subject to misunderstandings that can take time to resolve.

A matter of trust Making the effort for meaningful conver- sation and maintaining collaborative work pays off in building trust—an essential to making remote work effective. Experts as well as OnShift's Workforce 360 survey

point to other ways: • Transparency: Keep remote employees informed of news and changes, so they don’t feel forgotten.

• Policy: Have remote work policies clear- ly stated and understood, so employees know what’s expected. Current policies may need to be adjusted or updated for this new reality.

• Accessibility: This has two meanings. The first falls under basic equipment and supplies: Ensuring that remote workers have any ability needs or assistive devices to get their work done safely and effi- ciently. The second is about communica- tion: Can you and your employees reach the people they need to reach, when they need to reach them? Are you clear on what channels of communication are preferred (email, text, Slack) for what needs? Are remote workers, even tacitly, expected to be accessible at all hours? It takes discernment to determine when this is realistic.

Recognize achievement Finally, the most important factor cited by most experts and their employee surveys is recognition. Making opportunities to recog- nize remote employees for their work and ac- complishments grows trust and engagement. Recognizing remote teams at the same time as in-workplace teams emphasizes the com- mon mission and can bridge the space. Every meeting, even a five-minute huddle, can have time for a quick recognition and thank you. Add a specific thanks to the end of an update email. And plan short but meaningful ways to recognize employees and teams more for- mally at larger meetings. For more on these topics, see

smarterwithgartner;; and

Having regularly scheduled check-ins with employees can help bring structure to the day.


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