Before this pandemic, 44% of the global companies that didn’t allow remote work are now forced to make radical changes. Managers and their teams who have been trained on how to make a successful transition to working remotely are experiencing breakthrough results, improved productivity, and a happier team. Here’s what you can do to dispel the eight myths of the remote workplace so you can leverage the power of remote coaching and make it your competitive edge.

 

There’s No Going Back – Only Forward

With the massive and sudden shift around how companies, teams, and customers operate, sell, communicate and collaborate, especially when it comes to managing your team remotely, many managers question how proficient they can be at managing, motivating, coaching, connecting with, and holding their team accountable at a distance, especially if the manager has never managed a virtual team. It seems the facts support this. According to Owl Labs, only 84% of executives never worked remotely.

To compound this, unless already woven into your company’s current culture, employees who are suddenly being pushed into becoming a virtual employee have never worked remotely in their career! Here’s one reason that supports this. Before this pandemic, 44% of global companies didn’t allow remote work.

In fact, owl labs also reported that 58% of remote workers and 67% of remote managers received no training on how to work remotely.

Herein lies a massive opportunity to fill this change management gap, or you will find people feeling that their remote office is now their remote prison, disconnected from the “outside world.”

Isolation breeds negativity and costly assumptions about what’s going on “out there” or in the office. Uncertainty and the unknown breeds fear, disengagement, and a decrease in productivity.

According to Buffer’s annual report – The biggest struggle working remotely is unplugging after work, loneliness, communication, distractions, time zone differences, staying motivated, and taking vacation time.

While working remotely has many benefits, like anything else in life, there are drawbacks. Inc. found in a recent study that 47% of remote workers struggled with work-life balance. Personally, I think it’s much higher than that.

If managers aren’t coaching and consistently communicating effectively with their team, they’ll lose touch of where their people are, who they are and what their needs are to work effectively from home or wherever they choose to work remotely. That’s why I wrote this article, which is a templated coaching conversation every manager needs to have with their team, and themselves about how to create a happy, healthy lifestyle in a remote workplace.

And not only from a performance perspective, but where they are, mentally, in terms of their attitude, focus, career fulfillment, fears, concerns, health, homelife, and motivation.

If employee disengagement in the workforce is currently at 72%, imagine the exponential impact of not changing the way managers work with their team in their new virtual office space.

There’s no denying that the remote workplace is the new reality that impacts how we run our business, careers, and home.

While the frequency of having face to face conversations will continue to diminish, you can still schedule regular meetings, and coaching sessions over the telephone or, more effectively, via videoconferencing. You’ll soon find that managing and coaching a virtual team can be just – if not more effective than face to face!

The Benefits of Remote Coaching

Since 1989, and after coaching tens of thousands of managers and salespeople in 75 countries on 6 continents, at least 98% of all the one on one and team coaching I have done has been over the telephone, before video conferencing was even an option.

Not only has remote coaching via the telephone been proven to be incredibly effective but it is also highly efficient.

If delivered effectively and consistently, both individual and team coaching at a distance can save you a considerable amount of time and money, as it relates to scheduling limitations, travel restrictions and expenses, and uncertainty around how managers, teams, other departments, and their customers will be working together in this rapidly shifting and ever-evolving remote workplace.

Managers also have the opportunity to do more impromptu coaching and have check-in calls with their team, whether it’s to build accountability, reinforce a message, support them around creating a healthy and productive balance between work and home, handle a timely challenge or even to celebrate a win. This ‘just in time’ coaching can be delivered when your people need it most.

Of course, there’s the environmental benefit as well. Not to mention the reduced carbon emissions from fewer autos clogging up the morning commute. Every year, U.S. remote workers prevent 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere by not commuting. (Global Workplace Analytics)

Now that we’ve identified the benefits and challenges you will face when developing a remote organization, in part one of this eight-part series, we will begin to shatter the top myths of managing a remote team and what you can do to thrive!

MYTH #1 –  Employee Productivity Will Drop

“But I Can’t See Them! It’s more difficult to manage, hold my team accountable, and run my business this way.”

I’m certainly not disputing the value of managing and coaching a team face to face, and the additional physical cues that can be observed when doing so.

However, with the growing number of companies making the permanent shift to a remote workplace, managers will no longer have the luxury of calling a face-to-face meeting and instead, find themselves selling, supporting, coaching, and managing their people, and meetings, remotely.

So, if you’re worried about your employees being productive, Business News Daily reported that working from home actually increases productivity. Statistics show that those who work remotely at least once per month are 37% more likely to be happy and productive in their roles than those who can’t or don’t work remotely. And that’s only one day per month! 

Remote workers take longer breaks on average but they remain productive for an additional 10 minutes per day. Remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year.

In addition, remote workers say they work more than 40 hours per week, which is 43% more than on-site workers do. However, on-site workers are also working longer weeks because it’s required of them, while more remote workers are doing so because they enjoy what they do. (Owl Labs)

In the next blog, as I discuss Myth #2 of the remote workforce, which is:

The Level of Employee Disengagement Will Increase