Company leadership needs to be well versed in coaching remotely, not just because of the corona pandemic, but because remote working is the future of work.
- The corona pandemic has forced many companies to allow remote work, but remote work is going to be a pivotal issue long after the corona pandemic threat has abated.
- A large proportion of the workforce wants to be able to work remotely, and companies need to offer this as an option to retain employees.
- The challenge for those who coach remotely is to keep the team structured and make them feel engaged, despite their remote locations.
Remote working is on the rise, and has been for a while. The issue has gained more attention due to the number of people being forced to work remotely as a result of corona lockdowns; but it would have been a pivotal issue for companies either way. What’s more, it will remain a pivotal issue long after the threat of coronavirus has abated.
Coaching remotely: A new normal in the business world
They say the post-corona world will be a new normal. Well, so will remote coaching; and workplaces of the future need to adapt to this fact.
- New technologies are being incorporated into the workplace that will make remote work a no-brainer.
- A greater proportion of employees want to work remotely (about 80 to 90 percent of the US workforce according to Forbes), meaning businesses will have to be equipped to provide that option if they hope to retain employees and make themselves an attractive option.
- More millennials and Gen Z are entering the workforce, who are tech-savvy and favour flexibility.
How do coaches adapt to remote work?
The role of the coach is to form a trusting relationship, and ask questions that encourage others to determine their goals and how to achieve them. This is hard enough to do face-to-face, and now coaches are expected to do it remotely.
Let’s face it, remote coaching simply won’t be as effective as face-to-face coaching, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be effective at all. Here are some tips for coaching remotely:
1. Make the challenge of remote coaching a shared experience
Make the challenges of remote coaching clear to your team. Although they may already be aware of it, it helps to ensure everyone acknowledges it openly, and that everyone is on the same page. This can in turn provide the kind of shared experience that helps build trust.
2. Treat local employees as if they were remote employees
Wayne Anderson, from the Leadership Science Institute LLC, said on Forbes that you should: “treat your remote people like they are local and treat your local people like they are remote.”
He means you should give remote employees as much access to yourself as you can, and let them know the virtual door is always open; while making local employees schedule appointments. Local employees already feel involved since they’re there, seeing you in the hallways every day; whereas additional effort needs to be put in to ensure remote employees do not feel isolated.
3. Plan a structure and set rules
Face-to-face meetings can afford to be more impromptu, but remote working needs a rigid plan. A schedule of when to meet over zoom, skype or whatever your preferred online platform; how long each meeting will be, and what you plan to discuss during the meeting, all have to be part of a robust plan. Check-ins should obviously be scheduled as often as you can so that the remote employees feel engaged in the company directive.
It also helps to set certain rules, for example, that emails should be responded to within 24 hours. This will prevent remote employees from drifting away from the collective.
4. Avoid micromanaging
Micromanaging is much easier in an office environment, where you can walk over to an employee’s desk in person and ask them a quick question, or remind them of something they need to do.
But micromanaging backfires if you use it in a virtual environment. You need to give your virtual team their objectives, and trust them to complete it by the assigned deadline. Constantly messaging them to ask questions or find out about their status is going to be a frustrating distraction for them that is more likely to hurt their productivity.
Preparing for the workplaces of the future
The art of coaching remotely will be increasingly refined as time goes on. In some ways, the corona pandemic has provided an opportunity to prepare companies for the future that is coming, and the realisation that coaching in the workplace is important just as much for the virtual workplace as for the physical. If you’re interested in participating in the future of coaching, as the profession adapts to a changing world, consider studying a course at SACAP, where a range of coaching courses are offered, both full-time and part-time. For more information, enquire now.