How to Be a Great Remote Manager

Most exceptional managers have some key traits in common – honesty, leadership, empathy, and humility, to name a few. However, when it comes to managing remote workers, great leaders often exhibit a few extra qualities. 

Since COVID-19 forced many companies to adapt to remote work, executives who once oversaw their employees in person must learn to do so remotely. A recent survey by SHRM found that over 70% of employers are struggling to transition to remote work in the wake of COVID19. Being a remote manager can be challenging, as it requires you to keep in touch with employees and stay updated on project progress while your entire team is physically separated.

Luckily, with the right leadership, managers can overcome physical distance and keep their teams motivated, contented, and connected.

Here are 5 common traits of excellent remote managers:

1. They’re Organized

Managing remote workers requires exceptional organizational skills. Keeping track of project deadlines, launch dates, evaluations, meetings, etc. virtually takes dedication and planning. Great remote managers keep track of all of these events in planners, calendars, Outlook, or other platforms. Here’s a list of 10 software solutions to help you and your team stay organized while working from home. 

2. They’re Great Communicators

Excellent remote bosses are also top-notch communicators. Checking in with employees regularly is crucial to ensuring that projects get done on time. Video chatting is the best substitute for face-to-face contact, but be mindful of your employees’ schedule and avoid using it to an excess.

Furthermore, during COVID-19, it’s essential that you are transparent with your employees regarding company affairs. Being honest with employees can help quell their anxieties and help all parties plan for the future. Managers can also show they care about their team by sending them resources to help cope with COVID-19 anxieties. Encourage employees to take sick days when they need them, take advantage of telehealth capabilities, and take action if they’re experiencing poor mental health. If your company has a health and wellness program or COVID-19 FAQ page, refer your team to that. SHRM offers a list of ways that companies can adapt existing wellness programs to assist employees suffering from COVID-19 or related issues.

3. They’re Problem Solvers

Problems are inevitable when working remotely, especially if the transition to working from home is recent. Tech malfunctions, miscommunications, and trying to organize events virtually that were originally planned in person are all issues that remote managers must deal with. Great managers can devise creative solutions for online events. They’re also tech-savvy enough to overcome technical issues and flexible enough to give employees a variety of communication options (like Slack, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams to name a few). 

4. They’re Dynamic

Especially for companies who have just transitioned to online work, many plans will have to change. Flexibility is key. Great remote managers can shift plans when technology fails, an employee falls ill, or a project takes longer than anticipated.

5. They’re Empathetic

Finally, great remote managers (particularly during COVID-19) will understand that remote workers are going to face additional challenges while trying to balance their work and personal lives. Some employees have kids or spouses to tend to. Others are experiencing financial hardship or mental health issues due to the pandemic. Be there for your employees by checking in often, facilitating zoom catch-up chats or virtual coffee breaks, and even writing employees hand-written thank you notes. Let your employees clock off early for occasional personal emergencies and be flexible if you can.

During these trying times, effective management is essential to maintaining company function. Maintain a sense of normality by keeping track of schedules and deadlines, keep a steady head when problems arise, and sustain morale by reaching out to employees often. Your individual actions can help keep your company and its employees afloat.