How Virtual Leadership Is Different Than Face-to-face Leadership

The world is forever changed, and businesses, small and large, are learning to pivot to best drive forward. There is a level of expectation that change brings challenges, and though your role as a leader is still that – to lead – how you do so becomes the challenge.

Virtual leadership is an entirely new facet of leading, and New Quest Coaching and Consulting is no stranger to leadership. Based in Kamloops BC, New Quest understands how leadership behind a screen is different than leadership in person. Let’s look at a few ways they’re different and how you might adjust your leadership style if you need to pivot to online leadership. Always remember that an opportunity to learn and grow is hugely beneficial to you as a leader and to the members of your team.

Supervising employees in different locations and time zones

With virtual employees making up a significant percentage of the workforce for corporations across the globe, a leader in the organization must be prepared to supervise employees in different locations – and sometimes even different time zones. More technical than practice based, supervising employees in different locations can be done by encouraging collaboration, building trust, and keeping lines of communication open.

If every team member is aware of the expectations of their job, this reduces the amount of outward effort you must make as a leader to keep everyone on track. Then, communicate with your employees about what may be causing tension and be ready to adjust. If you have clear lines of communication open, adjusting project deadlines and mile-markers can turn a delay into a unified effort by the entire team. Your role in the situation in which multiple time zones and locations present a scheduling issue is to encourage adaptation, offer solutions, and keep yourself open to discuss what could be better. In the end, you must trust your team. Later, we’ll discuss using technology to assist you in maintaining a progressive approach to team management, which includes making yourself available and scheduling important tasks with clear deadlines.

Building trust and open lines of communication

As mentioned before, trust in your team is paramount. In a normal office environment, employees are seen face to face for meetings, discussing work, and mingling. Now, without a designated office to report to, your employees are expected to be working when they are scheduled to be working. This means you must trust that they are adapting to their new home-office and are free from distractions, which may decrease productivity. As mentioned before, open lines of communication will encourage the employee to reach out with any problems they may be having regarding working from home and may look to you for solutions. This should be seen as a moment when you can encourage good work habits, provide guidance, and recognize the employee’s desire to perform better.

Establishing Routines

In a traditional office environment, especially in a corporate setting, report time is standard practice. Now, with virtual and remote work becoming more mainstream, you must trust that they are working when they said they’re working. How this differs in a traditional employment setting, you can set eyes on the employee. Now, this doesn’t speak to other accountability forms (such as virtual clock-ins, scheduled meetings, and time-stamped work), but those opportunities will be discussed shortly. Just as someone might become accustomed to a specific time to report to work, the same can be done virtually by cultivating good habits through the use of routine.

Helping remote workers feel part of a team

Remote workers are just as valuable to your team as your face-to-face workers (if you have them). Since a normal office environment has a natural level of inclusion, you need to do your part to ensure your remote workers feel part of a team. This can be done using the details laid out above, but also through direct efforts such as meet-and-greets, and specific meetings led by a remote worker. This shows you as the leader want a cohesive team and helps you break down barriers in which a team member may not feel as connected to the rest of the team due to a distance barrier.

Using Technology

We mentioned before how using technology (beyond a video conference) can be beneficial to you as a leader. Now let’s briefly look at how to implement technology from a managerial/leadership perspective with the specific goal of addressing the differences listed above. Technology development to manage projects enlists a combination of task-based deadlines, time-stamped production, remote-login tracking, and project management. Technology can perform a lot of functions you’d normally do in an office environment, such as collaborative meetings and even roll calls. Don’t dismiss technology and systems in your strategy to pivot to remote leadership, but embrace it. Technology is responsible for remote work; it can be a solution as well.

Contact the Professionals

Whatever your leadership style, New Quest can help you hone your skills and guide you in best practices that we have been teaching across Western Canada and NorthWestern USA for many years. We want to see you and your team succeed and benefit from remote work opportunities.

For more help with leading remotely, training, and development services, reach out to us today. We now offer all our training and development courses online so we can train your whole team no matter where they are, or what time zone they are in.


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