The New Role of Managers in the Era of Remote Work

Remote work calls for a new type of management: one driven by leaders that generate an environment of trust.
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This article is a curated extract from an interview with Damian Scalerandi, BairesDev’s VP of Operations, on the Human Resource Executive Magazine. Click here to read the article published on their site.

Given the pandemic-driven shift to remote work, managers have had to be a lot of things in the last year. From a source of information, a model of organizational culture, a counselor, and even an IT assistant, employees have looked to their supervisors to navigate the quickly changing world of work. As more organizations build remote or hybrid work into their long-term strategies, the very role of the manager is being redefined.

 

#1 Productivity & Remote Work

When the pandemic started, many managers were focused on just one thing as they sought to supervise a newly distributed workforce: productivity. Some organizations implemented new time-tracking tools and tasked managers with ensuring worker output stayed steady—but this approach, and the management style it necessitates, is incompatible with long-term remote work. 

Instead, managers should be focusing on building trust with their employees above all else. That means abandoning micromanagement and shifting the entire function of the manager position to more of a facilitator position: everything from introducing new tools and communication channels to support remote work to ensuring they have a license to tend to their home lives when they need to and even helping them troubleshoot OS-related or WiFi issues.

In reality, measuring a remote team’s productivity looks pretty different than what most managers are used to in the office, though it’s based on the same thing: trust in your team members. For further reading, check out Damian Scalerandi’s Forbes article explaining how managers can measure productivity for remote teams today. 

 

#2 Communication Is King

Remote work is always driven by communication, which is why concrete communication plans are always essential. However, it’s easy for remote managers to overcommunicate—but that again can make employees feel micromanaged. 

At BairesDev, remote managers have short, daily message exchanges with their team members based on 3 points: what they worked on the day before, their agenda for that day, and what support managers can provide to help them meet those goals. We also encourage managers to check in individually with each team member for about 30 minutes each week, conversations that often go beyond work to help foster a sense of connection.

Beyond that, finding the right tech solutions to support team communication and collaboration should also be in the purview of remote managers. BairesDev utilizes project-tracking software, and managers use it to assign tasks and check in on their status, which minimizes unnecessary and burdensome communication.

“With remote work looking like it’s here to stay, there will always be new technologies to implement and new platforms to explore,” says Damian, “but trusting your employees is the ultimate path to long-term success.”

 

#3 Remote Work Needs Leaders, Not Bosses

“A remote manager needs to be less of a boss and more of a leader. During this time, employees will be looking to their managers for guidance, and it’s important for employees to know their managers are there to support them in the work environment as well as provide support for personal matters as well.” – Damian Scalerandi

These are lessons that leaders at BairesDev learned long before the pandemic, as the organization was founded as a remote company 12 years ago. When Damian joined in 2011, the environment for remote work was rather different, as video calls weren’t commonplace and much depended on internal communication. With teams across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America, he quickly saw the value of trust.

“I learned I had to trust my employees early on and that trust fostered open team collaboration and, ultimately, resulted in successful team dynamics and projects,” he says. According to him, the key to fostering trust is patience on the part of managers. Practicing patience and eschewing frustration—and keeping in mind that breaks from work are not only healthy but necessary—can help managers move away from micromanaging and make employees feel trusted.

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