The Covid-19 crisis brought about many changes around the world, including a massive shift in corporate work life. Before the pandemic, working from home was considered a perk, and almost an incentive. Nearly three years later, remote and hybrid work has become the new normal. And just as workstyles have changed, so too have employees’ preferences and expectations.
While working from home has allowed employees more flexibility and freedom, it has also come with significant challenges, especially for team leaders. Last week, Johanna Bauman, CMO at PubMatic, sat down with Rachel Conforti, SVP of Marketing at LoopMe, for our next edition of LoopWe, Remote Leadership and the Global Workforce.
Whether you’re a new leader or you have years of management experience, managing a team remotely can feel overwhelming. An added layer of complexity is added when some – or most – employees begin returning to hybrid in-office schedules. Here are some of the biggest challenges and tips on how to overcome them:
Onboarding: Be prescriptive yet adaptable with onboarding plans to provide clarity and alignment on expectations. Make sure new starters know who to meet with in their first days and weeks to jumpstart their training even if you are not physically together. Create 30-60-90 plans so new employees know what projects to focus on, and then check in regularly and adjust as needed. It’s also a good idea to assign each new member a “buddy” (often someone on another team), whose personalities or interests align. This buddy can help create another touchpoint and connection within the org, and also teach them about company culture. Johanna also recommends investing in a learning and development system so new hires have access to all of the materials and training they need, and can consume the content on demand on their own timetable (PubMatic uses Mindtickle).
Communication: Being a remote manager means building a system that balances trust and support for your team. Be transparent and thoughtful when it comes to communicating, and focus on documenting key actions and next steps. Remember that not everyone needs to be in the meeting, but they do need an opportunity to provide input and feedback on what was discussed, so pre-reads and follow-ups are crucial. This is even more important when managing international teams and juggling time zones. And similarly, especially when remotely managing a team that is physically together, managers should accept that discussions and brainstorms will happen without them there, and need to trust their teams to follow the same best practices of inclusive communication.
Culture & Experience: Evangelize company mission and goals, and communicate them clearly. It’s easy for remote workers to feel disconnected from the company culture, so priority must be placed on solving for that. Hosting virtual or in-person team offsites at least once a year can help employees understand the company’s vision and more importantly connect to one another, which will keep motivation high. If hybrid employees are in the office, plan a casual happy hour or provide lunch to encourage face to face time. It’s also important to emphasize the ongoing importance of work/life balance. Make sure employees still feel comfortable needing to pause work to run an errand, exercise, or pick up their kids from school.
As companies are figuring out how to work in a post-pandemic environment, it’s clear that remote and hybrid work is here to stay for the near future. The pandemic has resulted in a revolution in how we work, and like all revolutions, these work styles are still difficult to navigate. However, companies have found success in utilizing both options and will continue to be a work in progress as this becomes the new normal.