Being an effective manager in a remote work environment means strategically reconsidering previously held beliefs about the workplace, according to GitLab, a company specializing in remote work.
In the pre-pandemic days, employees with remote work options were on specialized teams with managers who were specifically trained to lead from a distance. But now, remote work is everywhere, creating problems for managers without the tools to effectively run their teams. Gitlab's interviews with global leaders in remote work found there are five pillars of remote management that every boss should leverage: self-awareness, trust, communication, a lack of ego, and empathy.
First, managers should ensure that communication channels are open and transparent and encourage their teams to communicate frequently. Regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings are also recommended to ensure everyone is on the same page. Additionally, managers must value trust in a remote work environment. Since they cannot physically oversee their team members, it's important to trust that they are doing their work and meeting their deadlines. This trust can be facilitated by allowing autonomy and empowering employees to make decisions.
Another important aspect of being a great remote manager is proactively identifying and addressing issues before they become bigger problems through self-awareness. Managers should be vigilant in monitoring their team's progress and productivity, and they should be quick to intervene if they notice any issues. Expectations should be clearly set with detailed guidelines. Managers should also take on what GitLab calls a "servant-leader role," in which they set aside their ego to both lead and serve their team. Regular feedback and performance evaluations can encourage this, along with accepting criticisms or critiques of their work.
Finally, empathy is a huge tool for managers that can foster a positive team culture in a remote work environment. By understanding others and imagining their team members' perspectives, managers can promote collaboration and teamwork, realize the true importance of successes and milestones, and help team members socialize in a comfortable and enjoyable way.