Bosses: How Do You Manage Employees at Home?
I don't know about you but I loved working virtually before it was created as a way to outwit Covid. I left my Fortune 500 company and went out as a consultant, which allowed me to work from home. I loved it. I could do the laundry, shop for groceries, run, write, do everything I did on the weekend but now my weekends were free (and I could miss all the crowds).
But a new study says that leading employees in a virtual environment is, well, tricky. According to newswise.com, directing employees in virtual work environments becomes more demanding because the dynamics of an in-person office and a virtual one are inherently different. So to lead effectively, what skills take on greater emphasis in virtual settings?
The study, led N. Sharon Hill, associate professor of management at the George Washington University says it takes three skills. First, "setting the course: stating clear objectives and expectations, as it is easy for team members who are not co-located and have little face-to-face interaction to not be on the same page," newswise reports.
Number two is encouraging employees to manage their own performance, which I really liked, because I knew whether I was being productive and am the kind of person who hates to not be doing anything, or not. But here's where you come in. Guidance and support are needed to help them be successful
Finally, because there is little-to-no-facetime between employees, try to build the team virtually. The study found that building solidarity and camaraderie among virtual team members motivates them to act in the best interests of the team even when their actions are not visible to others
But here's the kicker. The researchers say the final leadership behavior, aligning technology with team needs, is unique to the virtual environment because team members have to rely on electronic communication. Virtual leaders need to make sure their team has the proper hardware and software to get the job done, the knowledge and ground-rules to use them, and to adapt its use as circumstances change.
I did miss my colleagues, working at home. But somehow, the freedom and independence mostly made up for it.