"The success of a remote employee has less to do with the employee, and everything to do with the leadership team around them."

You may have stumbled across an article entitled “Why Working from Home Can be Terrible for You Career.” We here at livingHR see things a little differently.Leading remotely requires developing both the culture that supports innovation and the leaders who find new ways to connect with their teams. The aim is to foster both independence and inclusivity.

Is it harder in some ways to become a great modern leader when we don’t have the luxury of always being together? Absolutely. Is it a “career killer” when a leader successfully is able to lead a virtual team? Absolutely not.Leading and working remotely is simply a growing form of independence in the work place. It is a new muscle we must all learn to engage, especially leaders. Exceptional leaders are able to learn how to flex that muscle, they are learning to be better leaders in a quickly shifting workforce landscape.

How to Lead Remote Employees

There is one point we can agree on: remote workers need to feel connected — to the company, to it’s mission, and to other employees. Where our agreement diverges? That inclusion does not necessarily derive from sitting in the same building. Our COO Alina Shaffer spoke on this topic in her recent appearance on the Inside Forbes Council podcast. 

Great leaders find ways to encourage independence while also solidly connecting with virtual teams all the time. Here are a few practical ways leaders can do just that:

  • Lean on trust, not micromanagement. A great leader will know to trust their remote employees eventhought they can’t always “see” them.
  • Make sure you’re connecting with remote employees in the same cadence as on-site employees. Hold 1-on-1 meetings with all employees, not just in-person.
  • Think about the technology and tools you use to communicate. Use chat platforms that allow for video meetings and team chat channels. Use the right work-collaboration tools.
  • Celebrate the milestones of remote employees with all staff — work anniversary, big-wins,birthdays. These will make remote employees feel more included in the overall company culture. Employees that felt more connected to their teams were 21% more productive (Gallup) and this holds true regardless of where an employee may be working.

Why "Remote" Matters

Learning to foster the success of remote employees, and to lead remotely make good sense for your business and hiring practices. 87% of employees expect their employer to support them in balancing work and personal commitments (Glassdoor) meaning being able to have flexibility in work environment in going to become more of the norm and companies and leaders need to adapt. When looking for talent, competition and digital transformations require increasingly more specialized skills. The likelihood of always finding the talent you need in the town where your HQ is located is just about as high as winning big on a scratch off on your road trip home on the 4th of July.For more insights on developing leadership skills for the modern workforce, check out our &lead program.