Leading Remotely--How Different Is It?

Author:Hebert, Marc

In the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, telework is the new norm for Government agencies and corporate entities. How can we, as leaders, ensure that effective and productive work is completed through an immediate and unpredictable halt to in-office work? With rapidly improving technology connecting users, "Is leading a staff of employees from home any different than leading from the office?"

We provide our opinions on what leaders can do before and during the extended telework period to ensure "business as usual." Also, we address how connecting with employees and earning their trust will help in times of extended telework in response to emergencies, such as COVID-19. Finally, this article provides information on using technological applications to communicate, hold virtual presentations, and create alternative methods to achieve missions.

Building the Team Environment

Being an effective leader remotely begins with how you shape the in-office work environment. The skills and qualities of a successful leader are continually evolving. Leaders in today's environment must not only practice effective project management, decipher complex analyses, and delegate tasks, but also demonstrate people skills and understand human behavior. Using technology, being a flexible communicator, and setting clear expectations allow leaders to incorporate people skills, such as active listening, self-compassion, and empathy that creates a productive and positive workplace environment. Of course, not all employees will abide with the efforts to create a positive and effective workplace, so leaders need to deal swiftly with an employee whose attitude or actions inhibit the development of a productive workforce. However, by promoting healthy communication and a positive environment inside the office, leaders can have more confidence that employees will put forth the same effort in the event of extended telework from a global, national, local, or personal emergency. Again, if they do not, their performance should be addressed through a performance improvement plan or other actions.

Leaders must continue to practice these same people skills during extended telework periods. This is accomplished through constant communication and collaboration among leaders and employees, while providing the necessary guidance and tools to complete work away from the office.

During our extended telework requirements due to COVID-19, it is important to prepare for the...

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