- Remote work has given leaders the opportunity to change the way they manage their teams, according to “Virtual Leadership” author Dr. Penny Pullan.
- Pullan outlined five habits company leaders can implement to strengthen their workforce.
- Remote work can either expose inequalities in the workplace or help people overcome them depending on the steps employers take.
- Click here to watch the full event.
Remote work has forced corporate leaders to change the way they manage their employees, according to Dr. Penny Pullan, author of “Virtual Leadership,” who outlined the new priorities modern-day leaders should be aiming for during her keynote session at Insider’s “Workplace Evolution” event.
Pullan, the founder of Making Projects Work, a company designed to streamline corporate success, said while the pandemic has forced companies to implement work-from-home options, she has been learning to adapt to remote work for over 19 years.
“If you can put these five habits into practice, then effective virtual and hybrid leadership can be the lasting legacy of lockdown for you,” Pullan said.
Remote work has made clarity more important than ever before
Pullan said leaders need to be as clear as possible in the remote age about their expectations for employees.
She emphasizes all meetings need to have a clear purpose and agenda, especially during an age of Zoom fatigue.
Employees should never go into a meeting without knowing what is expected of them, according to Pullan. They should never leave a meeting without a clear purpose, wondering if it could have been an email.
Remote workers need a level playing field
In an office environment, where workers come from different backgrounds and some workers might be in office while others are remote, Pullan says corporate leaders need to work hard to level the playing field.
"The people in the room have a massive advantage," Pullan said. "They can pick up on the nuances of the conversation far more than remote people."
In order to combat inequalities between remote and in-person workers, she advised employers to make remote workers more lifelike by putting their cardboard cut-outs in office chairs.
Team leaders could also require all employees, even those in the office, to call into the meeting. By having each employee work off their laptop, remote workers would not be as isolated from other employees.
Leaders need to understand the role of each employee in the larger team
Pullan emphasized that while remote work can create inequalities between employees, it can also help combat some inequalities as well.
In order to best utilize a remote work environment, a leader needs to understand the identity, strengths, and weaknesses of their employees in order to make a more holistic and effective team.
"It is important you recognize your personality and those on your team," Pullan said. "Identify and match strength and weakness to create the best team possible."
She also noted remote work can be good for companies as it allows team members to connect over intangible elements - personality traits, likes and dislikes - rather than more superficial characteristics of a person's identity.
Leaders need to be aware of how they use technology and diversify their efforts
While remote work has many options, from using interfaces like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to Slack or even recording meetings for later viewing, Pullan said corporate leaders are focusing too much of their efforts on live forms of communication like Zoom.
According to Pullan, recordings and other asynchronous forms of communication allow for more diversity in the workforce and give team members the opportunity to work better without time constraints at a time of day that makes them more productive.
Remote work and the potential to move away from live in-office events, even after the pandemic, fits into current patterns in Wall Street as well as Silicon Valley. Companies like Goldman Sachs and Twitter have seen their workforce move to cheaper locations, or even different time zones, because they no longer have to come into the office.
Leaders need to focus now more than ever on keeping their employees engaged in the conversation
Remote work comes with downsides as well. It can be difficult to sit through online meeting after online meeting.
Pullan says team leaders need to work harder on keeping their staff engaged throughout long online meetings in order to generate a more lively and productive conversation between team members.
Pullan says leaders can keep workers engaged using several tools, including narrative storytelling, video calls, and extra visuals.