Leadership of remote teams is very different to leading teams in an office environment.

To best support remote employees, here are 8 things as a manager you can do:

1: Ask more than just, “How are you doing?”

“How are you doing?” is a pedantic, routine question, and so our answers are often pedantic and routine in reaction to it

Try questions like:

What are you currently doing to sustain yourself? Have you been able to take time for yourself, in any way? How can I support you in that? Is there anything we can be doing to support each other?

Are there any tasks or projects lately that feel more like a struggle than usual? Where is the weight coming from?

2: Give an abundance of trust.

To avoid unintentionally hurting your team, take off some of that pressure and choose to trust your team. 

Trust – not tracking – engenders productivity.

3: Figure out how you might be getting in the way.

Our primary goal as a manager isn’t to do the work itself for our team – but rather, to create an environment to do their best work. And sometimes, more often than not, creating that environment means getting out of our employees’ way.

For example, we may be holding our employees back because we’re not clarifying expectations with them. Or, we may be hindering them because we’re not giving enough context.

4: Make it safe to speak up.

If your team is scared, they can’t do good work. That’s fairly intuitive.

Yet, how comfortable right now might you say your team is about speaking up, suggesting new ideas, and pointing out mistakes – or even admitting their own?

Make it safe to speak up. This is absolutely vital

5: Automate the way to share progress to save your team time.

simply ask folks to share a quick written update (think 30 seconds or less to write), each day or each week. This way, across multiple time zones, everyone can be in the loop about what’s going on – and an hour or more of everyone’s time doesn’t have to be wasted on Zoom.

6: Lead with empathy.

In a remote environment, when so much of the day-to-day communication is written and body language cues absent, showing empathy as a leader is needed more than ever.

7: Give opportunities for team members to support each other.

To best support your remote employees, don’t just rely on yourself to do all the supporting. You’ll want to give opportunities for your team to support each other. Bonding and rallying together while everyone is socially distant is an important part of helping folks cope with remote working.

For example, some teams will hold Zoom coffee chats, or play board games with one another

8: Take care of you.

You can’t support your team if you don’t have any gas I the tank to begin with.

Make sure you’re finding time to sleep, discover calm moments in your day, get some physical movement in… and just breathe.

Your team needs you – and that means you need to take care of yourself.