5 Tips for remote leadership

Remote leadership – difficult to imagine in the past, but often successfully practised since 2020 at the latest. But also independent of the pandemic, flexible working hours and locations are becoming increasingly important for employees.

Remote leadership means leading a virtual team and thus positively guiding the employees, their behaviour and motivation from a distance, without losing the defined corporate goals and visions. A remote manager must set up effective technology, communication  and workflows, similar to leading a team in-person, but certainly there are some differences and challenges when not meeting every day in office.

Managers fear a loss of control, employees can have a feeling of being alone or isolated, there can be uncertainties about responsibilities, priorities and roles, a reduced sense of teamwork, misunderstandings can arise due to a lack of personal communication… and all this can affect motivation of team members and the performance of an organisation.


1) Make sure you have good conditions

 leadership-imageThis refers both to the technical infrastructure and to clear definitions of expectations and tasks for staff. Your remote workers need to know exactly what activities and services are expected of them in the home office.

In terms of technical equipment, you need software for:

  • Chat, e.g. Teams, Slack, Hangouts Chat, Teamwork etc.
  • Online meetings, e.g. Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, GoToMeeting etc.
  • Tools that allow access to central data, VPN or cloud storage.
  • and possibly project management tools with schedule, calendar, to-do etc. like Trello, Asana…


Your media and also moderation skills are now very important. Be proficient in the tools you choose and make sure you address your staff in a good, motivating way.

2) Assure regular communication

Building trust, maintaining transparency, communicating frequently and openly, and ensuring a supportive working environment are critical for success. This needs:

  • 1:1 asynchronous communication, e.g. with the help of a chat tool for concrete questions and clarifications.
  • Individual video meetings for more intensive exchange on specific activities, for more complex questions etc.
  • Regular team meetings for share important information, get to know new people and tasks etc.
  • And don´t forget the importance of informal communication.


3) Build trustleadership-image1

Some managers struggle with the idea of their employees working at home without distractions or without using their time at home for something else.

Leading remotely means a loss of control. After all, when leading virtual teams, you can no longer know how exactly your employees spend their time and when they specifically work on which project. For you as a manager, this means finding the right level of control and trust.

If remote work is characterised by mistrust, this will affect the quality of work and, in the worst case, lead to conflicts.


4) Establish some ground rules

Create the organisational framework conditions for trusting cooperation. These include, for example:

  • Defintion of availability and response times.
  • Clear responsibilities.
  • Defined work instructions.
  • Transparent processes.

Strengthen the self-responsibility of your employees, a high degree of reliability is needed. You should do this without pressure – but rather by empowering, inspiring and encouraging your staff.

5) Give feedbackleadership-image

Your employees need your support not only as a manager guiding their daily work, but they also need your recognition. As a manager, however, you should also give criticism when necessary. The best way to give feedback is in a face-to-face conversation – either with software tools or alternatively by phone. It is important that both parties switch on the camera to be able to follow the facial expressions and gestures of the conversation partners. Avoid written communication here, as this often leads to misunderstandings.

And don´t forget: Remote leadership needs empathy!

The home office is not just a place to work. Instead, the private life of your remote team also takes place there. It can happen that the kids burst in during an online meeting or a delivery service rings the doorbell. Managers should be lenient and understanding for the best leadership outcomes.

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