The popular trend in current workplace culture is the “Remote Worker” revolution, enabling individuals to complete work-related tasks and projects virtually anywhere. Unfortunately, if you’re one of the few trying to be an effective leader when working remotely, difficulty arises because your lack of on-site presence. You may feel that your lack of close relationships with teammates puts your job is at risk, or any career advancement into leadership.
The reason this happens is due to basic human psychology. The more we see someone, the more they are a part of our life. Your name on an email or your voice on the other end of a phone just doesn’t have as much of an impact as being physically present in an office. To put it in simpler terms: “out of sight, out of mind.”
Everyone in an organization needs to be a leader, but it’s especially important to be one if you’re working remotely. A hallmark of leadership is keeping your word. That means if you’re joining a meeting via conference call, always be early. If you make a promise to complete a task by the end of the day, ensure that you do so or communicate if you can’t. Step up and take responsibility, but don’t over-commit. Unfortunately, it’s easier for people in the office to disparage the remote worker over anyone else. Be conscientious.
Another element of effective leadership is visibility. When you are working on site, you can let people know you are there by keeping your door open, by rolling up your sleeves to contribute, or by taking regular meetings with every member of the staff. But when you’re remote, this isn’t quite as straightforward. Instead, consider having virtual office hours where anyone can dial in and ask a question. Try sending out status reports of your progress. Consider scheduling one-on-one phone calls for the purpose of building rapport.
Lastly, it’s important to communicate to your team that working remotely is not a privilege, but merely a side-effect of the modern economy. Let people know that you’re not special, that you’re getting things done every day just like they are. It can be challenging to express this in a way that doesn’t seem superior, but telecommuting is not a way of working less, just a way of working differently. Helping others to understand that you are part of the organization without restrictions or reservations will help them to treat you as a colleague and a first class citizen.
About the Author
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. Robby runs a business improvement consulting company. His focus is helping organizations and individuals to become more efficient, more effective and more satisfied at work. Robby is a regular contributor in several regional magazines and has been interviewed by national publications such as the Wall Street Journal. His latest book is The Unbeatable Recipe for Networking Events. You can read more and see a complete list of books here.