Three Tips for Leading Remote Organizations
“When they tell us ‘keep physical distance’ let’s also focus on psychological closeness. Now, we need to think that we are not here alone but together. Supporting one another.”
This is how the Finnish President Sauli Niinistö tweeted on 12 March 2020, when the era of remote work started in Finland.
How to ensure physical distance, but enable psychological closeness? This is the question that also the leaders of remote organizations are facing.
Below, I have listed three tips, based on my own experiences as the CEO of Heltti, a fast-growing occupational healthcare company of 65 professionals who also started to operate mainly remotely as of March 2020.
How to ensure physical distance, but enable psychological closeness?
Benefits and Dangers of Remote Teams
When the era of remote work started in March 2020, we got Heltti’s steering group, consisting of eight professionals, working better than ever before. Together, we faced many fast-developing situations that required quick decisions from a healthcare service provider. Instead of meeting every second week, we started every morning together with an efficient status update. We benefit from our improved teamwork skills still today.
A good deal for two, is a clip on the ears of a third, goes the Finnish proverb, meaning someone always loses in a trade. This applies also to teambuilding. The more efficiently a team is working as a group, the greater is the risk for the team moving further away from the rest of the organization.
A wise team leader will try to avoid building a bubble around the team by communicating very actively and ensuring that there are daily connections between the team members and the rest of the organization.
A wise team leader will try to avoid building a bubble around the team by communicating very actively and ensuring that there are daily connections between the team members.
Effect of Private Lives at Workplace
Before the era of remote work started, offices could work for many people as a refuge for escaping problems in their private lives. When working remotely from home, people may have to face simultaneously both professional and private problems.
Each remote worker has his or her individual needs for support. One may live in a small apartment with small children and really needs to come to the office to find a silent place for concentrating on work. The other may enjoy moving to his or her second home further away and work solely from there. Also, the need for psychological support has increased, and it is important for employers to identify the employees in need of extra support.
When we strive for efficiency and focus solely on work, we can easily forget to pay attention to our colleagues as humans.
How Are You? -Calls
I think there are many benefits in this era of remote work. Typically, remote meetings start punctually and also finish in time. No time is wasted for pouring coffee and non-business-related small talk. When not at meetings, remote workers can fully concentrate on their work without being interrupted by their colleagues (provided that the notifications of different communications channels are set off).
However, this efficiency comes with a cost. When we strive for efficiency and focus solely on work, we can easily forget to pay attention to our colleagues as humans.
Why not call your colleague every now and then without any specific business-related reason? Just asking how your colleague is doing and how they are feeling. As a reward for these How Are You? -Calls, you will better understand your colleague also as a human, create a deeper connection between yourselves and communicate to your colleague that you care.
Who could you call already today?
Timo Lappi is a growth entrepreneur and an entrepreneur-minded lawyer with a passion for promoting knowledge workers’ health and wellbeing. At SHIFT 2020 he will discuss his ambition to promote wellbeing and mental wellness at work which also leads to greater happiness and productivity