To Work from Home, Or Not


To Work from Home, Or Not

The pandemic has changed our society in large and small ways. In my opinion, one of the more significant impacts has been the large-scale acceptance of remote working. For a long time before 2020, it was just a novelty or exception. But COVID provided an unexpected experiment into the validity of a remote working model. Depending on which report you read (and their underlying goals), this experiment has either been a spectacular success or a total failure. In my research, I have found that companies pushing a strong “back to the office” policy also have made substantial investments in office space over the past five years. Not surprisingly, many employees from those companies are having no issue finding jobs at companies that will let them work remotely. Our question today is related to this ongoing work-from-home trend. 

Hello Kevin,

I have just moved into a new role and am now managing a team of remote employees. What tips do you have for a manager new to remote leadership.

(Remote) Newbie in North Carolina

Thanks for the question. I have worked in or lead remote teams my entire career (minus one year). One of the challenges in the move to remote working has been for leaders of remote teams to learn new methods to manage teams that are not meeting in person. I have learned a few things that have helped make that process work well for me. 

Successful leadership of a remote team starts with the trust in that team. This concept is also valid for in-person teams, but trust becomes even more critical for a team working remotely. When things don’t go to plan, and someone is working remotely, it can be easy to assume the reason is nefarious. While this might be the case, most times, it is not. This concern causes significant relationship issues with the team, lower employee satisfaction, and lower productivity. 

One of the ways to help build this trust is to set clear, measurable goals for the team members and hold them accountable for their completion. The methods and timing of getting those goals accomplished should be less critical. If a team member is completing their work as expected, why worry about how that work was completed? One of the perks of remote working is flexibility. It will create significant issues if you allow remote working but don’t provide that flexibility in your management style. 

That being said, flexibility can cause communication issues. I have found that a clear communication guideline or policy is vital for remote teams. This policy outlines which method should be used for different types of communication and the expected response times for those messages. For example, emails should be used for non-urgent items and have a longer expected response time. The policy should also include guidelines on the time-of-day messages are expected to be responded. It is okay if you end up sending emails at 1:00 AM, but it is not reasonable to expect a quick response from your team. One approach to help with this is to use the “scheduled send” feature included in many email platforms. Also, remind your team many times the best solution is to just jump on a call. 

I think video conferences can have great value, but many forget that they are “a” tool, not “the” tool for remote communication. Companies have been run successfully for years before the widespread use of video calls. Studies have shown that being on video conferences places a greater strain on people who are on them, especially for long periods, versus simply an audio-only call. Not every meeting needs to be on video. 

One of the downsides of remote work is that the separation of “work” vs. “home” has been largely removed. This issue is especially impactful for people who do not have a dedicated space in their homes for work. If the work is always there, it is easy to end up working on “just one more item” for much longer than you would have if that work were at an office. While this increases productivity levels, it also leads to faster employee burnout. As a leader of remote teams, you must ensure that team members are taking time off and have a separation between work and home lives. This effort can be easier said than done but is worth the effort. 

I am a big believer in the value of remote teams and expect that it will become the standard way of working in the future. Good luck on your new remote leadership journey. 

If you have a question that you would like answered in a future column or would like to drop me a comment, please reach out at

Article contributed by:
Kevin Uhlenhaker
Only show results from:

Recent Articles

Send message to

    We use cookies to monitor our website and support our customers. View our Privacy Policy