Remote Leadership Fact Sheet #4: Structuring Work
Under conditions of remote work, the manager must structure work tasks precisely, and ensure that goals, tasks and responsibilities are clear. Because in virtual space, misunderstandings regarding tasks and decisions, difficulties in achieving tasks, faulty processes, etc. are often recognized much later than in real groups.
There are three key questions regarding the structuring of remote work:
What needs to be done, so that the employees bring their added value optimally into the team and the organization.
What do employees need for this?
Which organisational structure and which framework conditions are necessary?
The tasks for the manager result from the special features of distance management and virtual communication:
- Ensure transparency of the work process
- Ensure good onboarding
- Create opportunities for cooperation
- Ensure work orders to be carried out
- Ensure freedom of decision
- Ensure time margins
- Address forms of remuneration if necessary
- Promote self-organisation
- Goal setting and goal achievement in the virtual team
- Define co-leaders / substitute leaders if the manager is not available
1. Structuring work: good preparation and planning
The pandemic measures forced work into home office, even when employees and teams were not prepared for the home office challenge. It’s not just about creating acceptance and motivation. The work must now be planned and structured in such a way, that it can continue to be performed efficiently in all service areas. It is important to have an overview of the current (and mostly informal) network structures, which actually shows who works when, where and with whom in order to achieve the common goals. Developing and updating this overview is a particular challenge for leadership.
2. Structuring work: organise tasks and processes
In order to achieve this, strategies and concepts must be developed that describe who can now carry out which tasks or how, or who can take on new tasks. Team composition, information and work processes must also be adapted to virtual collaboration.
Respond positively to every domestic difficulty of your employees. If you help solve domestic problems, individuals can increase their commitment to the team / organization. The difficulty may seem trivial, but trivial disturbances can often disrupt whole days, and cause anxiety and underperformance. The way out is easy by responding positively to domestic difficulties
3. Structuring work: equipment and knowledge management
Last but not least, employees must receive the appropriate technical equipment as well as practically applicable tools and software solutions, and they must be familiar with their use: whether for smooth networking and dialogues, data and information exchange or digital meetings and gatherings.
The need for mutual and mutual learning is growing in virtual teams. The exchange in this context is complex. Therefore, peer learning is important.
It is necessary for successful remote work that organisations make the necessary knowledge available to employees in the home office. Knowledge databases, intranets, blogs, podcasts and vlogs are tools for conveying and discussing knowledge.
Beyond the internal exchange, all sorts of other learning experiences should be made possible, on the one hand as a gesture of appreciation, on the other hand, in order to create more connection to the team and the company.
4. Structuring work: autonomy
Autonomy is not a logical consequence of distance leadership and remote work. It has to be created and accepted – from both sides, in both directions. But for cooperation to work really well, it also needs its limits – otherwise autonomy becomes anarchy too quickly.
Decision and „game“ rules must be agreed, for example:
- when you can be reached by others (and when not) or
- who, when, what can decide freely and
- Which decision processes should and can be used at all.
The clearer the individual freedom and its limits are defined, the better.
Finally, training and development opportunities also show your employees, what value they have for their organization. Development opportunities meet everyone’s desire to acquire new skills, knowledge and experience. They also improve the current daily output. The time required for development is easily compensated for, as a result of psychological well-being and a positive attitude towards the workplace.
In proven collaboration, the Institute for Leadership Dynamics (ILD) and Psychologie Halensee have developed a joint online program to strengthen resilience and leadership effectiveness in crises: the Remote Leadership & Collaboration program. The fact sheets are part of the info package for internal employee communication with curated and quality-assured expert content on organisation, communication and health under the conditions of remote leadership & collaboration