Keeping Leaders Connected with their Remote Workforce
September 9, 2020
The benefits of moving to a remote-first workforce have been well articulated by all-remote companies like Gitlab. Everything from no commute to increased productivity and more. But there can be challenges as well, especially when it comes to leadership connection with a remote workforce.
Overall, Leaders rank reduced employee engagement as a top concern. And rightfully so, data shows engaged teams perform significantly better. While remote, managers can worry that their team is working on non-critical tasks (or bingeing Netflix). Meanwhile, employees may feel less and less connected to their co-workers and company.
At first, suddenly remote teams often have the instinct to try and replicate everything that happened in the office, virtually. “There’s a natural pull, even in these times, not to figure out how to operate in this new world but how to replicate the old world in the new conditions,” Leslie Perlow, a professor of leadership at Harvard Business School, told the NY Times. “The longer this goes on, my optimism increases because I think people are being forced to figure out innovative ways.” This great reset is an opportunity to rethink old processes and adjust rituals. Now, leaders and managers can maximize engagement and the benefits of remote working.
LEADERSHIP: ALIGN, ALIGN, ALIGN.
When we were all in the office together, certain things just came more naturally than in remote work. Connecting the overall mission of the company and our personal role in its success happened almost by accident day-to-day. This is because leaders traditionally have focused significant time and effort to weave mission and culture into office life. All-hands meetings, posters on the wall, off-site strategy sessions, lunch and learns, and more. Slack’s State of Work report underscores the importance of alignment. Workers that feel aligned to mission, culture, and organizational goals are significantly more optimistic and empowered.
In a remote organization, leaders need to be much more purposeful and consistent in aligning their teams. They can’t rely on a fun/perk-filled office environment to make up for disenfranchisement between big pep rallies. Short videos from key leaders that are universally available can be the right tool to solve this challenge. An authentic message from the Head of People or CEO can rally the troops and remind them of what’s important. Short video allows more frequent leadership connections with employees without overwhelming or burdening Zoom-packed schedules.
What sounds more motivating to you:
- Watching a growing pool of timely 1-minute videos from leadership?
- …or waiting around for a quarterly off-site to feel inspired?
In addition, remote-work best practices have a big focus on documentation. A universally accessible knowledge base of videos (complete with transcripts!) provides the added benefit of a permanent record. You don’t get that from a conference call, meeting or offsite.
MANAGERS: OPTIMIZE & MAXIMIZE
Fun fact #1 – most of us like the people we work with and really miss seeing them in the office! As managers of newly remote teams struggled to maintain connections, Zoom calls filled up our calendars. Enter “Zoom Fatigue” as a cultural phenomenon.
Fun fact #2 – 50% of meetings are a waste of time according to Peter High, UNC Professor of Management. As companies settle into the new normal, managers need to protect their teams’ productivity time. This means defaulting to asynchronous methods and holding a high bar for synchronous meetings. Don’t just convert all your old meetings to Zoom calls. Best practice is to evaluate and only keep the ones that are high value and require synchronous connections.
- Replacing your daily stand-up with short video updates from each team member
- Reimagining 2-hour brainstorm meetings as asynchronous idea collection capped with a 30 minute review and decision-making call
- Kicking your weekly kick-off meeting to the curb and sending an inspirational video message to the team with priorities and goals articulated instead
Get On Board With Short Video Today
The future of work is here! Experts agree there is no going back now that we have been forced into this remote working experiment. While short video monopolizes the consumer world (think TikTok), the world of work is now ready for this rich, asynchronous experience. We can now move beyond the false choice between video calls or the written word. Companies like Voodle have arisen to help leaders and managers take advantage of this medium. The result? Increased employee engagement and productivity.