Remote Leader

by Jane Begum

Being a remote leader can be quite a challenge. Managing a team you don’t physically see everyday isn’t easy. The role requires creativity and a great deal of empathy. Below, we’ll tackle some questions that every budding remote leader needs to ask themselves to find out whether or not they’re ready to take on the role.

Can You Learn to Fully Trust the People in Your Team?

Micromanaging is a fault which entraps many leaders. Stack Overflow manager David Haney says that “micromanagement comes from trust issues. For people who don’t see their employees every day, nervous managers resort to other means to ‘look over their remote employees’ shoulders.” This is likely to be unproductive and can be a blow to your workers’ morale. An important aspect of remote leading is building trust with your team members. Let them know that you fully trust them with a task, and that you believe they can tackle it on their own. Do more with mutual trust instead of one-sided control.

Are You Able to Empathize with Your Workers’ Well-Being?

In building trust with your remote workers, you are also empathizing with them. Vy Luu reported that remote workers face feelings of loneliness and isolation. It’s the role of the remote leader to alleviate these feelings by regularly checking in with the team. Direct bosses may sometimes be the only point of contact for some remote workers, so the remote leader needs to take on the responsibility of looking after their workers’ well-being and understanding where they’re coming from.

Can You Listen to Your Employees and Ask Tough Questions?

Traditional office environments make it easier to observe your workers through social cues. A remote leaders’ job is more difficult since you often do away with these physical cues, making it necessary for a leader to draw out peoples’ feelings through asking tough questions. Without having these conversations, you run the risk of making a team member feel detached and frustrated, and eventually leaving.

Can You be Level-Headed in the Face of Adversity?

Rudyard Kipling’s poem If opens with the line: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…” Remote leaders need to channel this level-headedness when your team is faced with hard challenges. Remote workers will follow how their leader reacts in the face of adversity. For remote workers, challenges are more difficult since they’re faced alone. Seeing how a leader reacts to these difficulties will reassure remote workers that everything will be okay. 

Are You Willing and Able to Adapt to Disruptive Changes?

Emily Green Balch is quoted as saying “Technology gives us the facilities that lessen the barriers of time and distance…” A good remote leader knows how to use technological advancements to their team’s benefit. Emerging technological advances have made the modern workplace virtually unrecognizable from what it was 10 or even just 5 years ago, which Maryville University notes is the reason for the growing demand for training specialists with the capacity to guide employees through tech-driven organizational changes. In short, remote leaders also have the responsibility to keep themselves up to date with new technologies, which can make remote work easier for employees. Moreover, it’s their role to guide their team through the disruptive tech-driven changes that ultimately shape how the organization functions.

Can You Ensure Your Team Has Work-Life Balance?

Remote workers face challenges when it comes to work-life balance. In a study that looks at the biggest struggles of remote work, ‘unplugging after work’ tops the list. The delineation between work and play is difficult to determine when working remotely. Given this, a remote leader needs to be able to recognize if one of their employees is being overworked. It’s also their role to encourage their workers to disconnect after their given work hours and pursue other fields of interest.


About the Author

Jane Begum is a tech-obsessed blogger and freelancer who believes (and never fails to tell other freelancers) that remote work is the future of business. When Jane is not rummaging through the news for developments in business trends, disruptive tech advances, and management solutions, she continues her staring contest with Amanda, her 8-year-old Persian cat.

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