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Leading Remote Teams Effectively: 8 Do’s and 2 Don’ts

Leading Remote Teams Effectively: 8 Do’s and 2 Don’ts

Remote work became a necessity for many firms during the pandemic, but its continued prevalence suggests that the advent of COVID-19 merely accelerated a trend that was already on the horizon. Among workers who report that their jobs can be done from home, 59% are currently working on a remote basis; this compares with 23% who did so before the pandemic hit1. A major change, however, is that most employees who now work from home do so out of preference, not necessity.

The benefits for employees who have the freedom to work on a fully remote or hybrid basis are many. A Gallup poll found that the top 3 benefits cited by remote employees are (a) lack of commute, (b) flexibility, and (c) enhanced well-being2. These considerable benefits have influenced many businesses to continue offering remote options, to the delight of employees.

With remote and hybrid work becoming “business as usual,” organizations are increasingly turning their attention to questions of how to adapt best practices to the remote modality, and an important area of such focus is leadership. Specifically, how does one translate effective leadership practices to remote working environments? On this topic, we offer the following “do’s and don’ts” of remote leadership:

Remote Leadership Do’s

1. Build Trust
A recurrent finding across research on remote team leadership is that trust is of the utmost importance3. Humans tend to evaluate others’ trustworthiness by observing their actions. With remote teams, we have little opportunity to observe one another, but effective leaders adjust for this by regularly sharing progress updates, keeping team members informed of the status of ongoing projects, and helping team members understand how their actions relate to the larger goals of the company. For new team members in particular, leaders who respond promptly to emails and requests are perceived as more trustworthy.

2. Hold Regular Team Videoconference Meetings
Many employees love the flexibility of asynchronous work, but it is vital for team cohesion that remote employees have routine real-time communication. Video conferencing is an essential technology, as it captures more of the nuances of communication (e.g., facial expression, gestures, intonation) compared with phone calls or chat. Being able to see, hear, and interact with each other in real-time allows team members to develop relationships and group trust. Leaders who show higher skill with digital communication technologies are also viewed as more effective by employees4.

3. Hold Regular One-on-Ones
In an office setting, leaders and their employees may be able to pop into each other’s offices for brief check-ins on an informal basis. But with remote work, leaders need to be more intentional by scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with each of their team members. This helps to build trust and accountability, as well as providing leaders the opportunity to discuss feedback or suggestions. One-on-one meetings also provide employees the opportunity to express perspectives they might not feel comfortable sharing in group meetings.

4. Consider Time Zone & Cultural Differences
Remote teams may be both geographically and culturally diverse, and leading a remote team often means taking important differences into account, such as language differences, holidays, and cultural traditions. When teams are spread across multiple time zones, meetings should be scheduled at times that work for all team members, to the extent possible.

5. Encourage Social Interaction
Socializing helps employees to build trusting relationships, which foster more cohesive and productive teams. Rather than discouraging social chatting as “off task” behavior, effective remote leaders encourage it. You might set aside time during meetings for social chat, or even schedule purely social virtual activities to help team members connect.

6. Provide Reliable Technology
It may seem surprising to include technology on a list of leadership “do’s,” but remote employees interpret the trustworthiness of an organization by the quality of the technology they are provided5. For remote work, having reliable cloud services is key, as intermittent downtime sends a negative message to employees about the quality of the company’s leadership. It is similarly important to ensure that data backups are maintained and retrievable in the event of disaster.

7. Use Shared Files
When employees are dispersed, it is important that they all be enabled to view the same files at the same time, making file-sharing software an essential. For example, shared task planners are useful for communicating expectations and holding remote employees accountable. Sharing documents using videoconferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams is especially handy when multiple team members must collaborate on developing and editing a document.

8. Give Remote Employees Access to Company Data
Effective leaders give their employees the resources they need to be successful, and remote employees cannot get by on email attachments alone. They need access to the same data repositories as on-site staff to be equally productive, which requires that companies institute zero trust security measures.

Remote Leadership Don’ts

1. Don’t Micromanage
For some managers, the inability to see employees throughout the day causes them to feel concerned about loafing or underperformance. If you’re in this group, don’t give into the temptation to micromanage, as this does more harm than good. Instead, set expectations, use communication methods and task monitoring as described above, and monitor employees’ outcomes above all.

2. Don’t Become Intrusive
Just because employees work from home, that does not mean they should be available for work at all times. Unless the employee’s job requires after-hours availability, don’t intrude upon your employees’ personal time with work-related instructions or requests.

NexusTek offers a wide array of solutions to support cohesive and productive remote/hybrid teams—from high-uptime cloud solutions to Microsoft Modern Workplace applications, with the cyber security and managed IT services your business needs to keep your systems running securely and reliably.

Interested in IT solutions to elevate your remote team leadership practices to the next level?


  1. Parker, K., Horowitz, J. M., & Minkin, R. (2022, February 16). COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape work in America. Pew Research Center.
  2. Saad, L., & Wigert, B. (2021, October 13). Remote work persisting and trending permanent. Gallup.
  3. Ford, R. C., Piccolo, R. F., & Ford, L. R. (2017). Strategies for building effective virtual teams: Trust is key. Business Horizons, 60(1), 25-34.
  4. Bizilj, S., Boštjančič, E., & Sočan, G. (2021). Perceived efficacy of virtual leadership in the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Changing Societies & Personalities, 5(3), 389-404.
  5. Ford, R. C., Piccolo, R. F., & Ford, L. R. (2017). Strategies for building effective virtual teams: Trust is key. Business Horizons, 60(1), 25-34.