If you are a leader who relied on face-to-face communication with your people – you will by now be considering how you are going to adapt so that your team feels supported right now – if they have rapidly become a remote team working from home.

Visible leadership pays dividends – we can all remember the leader who walked around and greeted us, remembering our name, our family situations and what was important in our lives. This visible leader really cared for us; and acknowledged the humanness of our connection; in the pursuit of whatever we were engaged in producing in the business.

If you are that sort of leader – what are you going to do now? Or in contrast – if your leadership style has some micro-manager tendencies – you will be totally in the dark now as to how your people are performing at work – let alone their emotional wellbeing – as you won’t be able to see them.

Here are some tips I have learnt along the way for remote visible leadership – to ensure teams continue to be productive – and even more important right now – your people are emotionally okay.

Tip #1 Double the amount of time you spend with your people

My rule of thumb was to spend at least an hour with each direct report per week with set meeting times in the calendar. This duration was necessary to cover the business needs; and to check in with people and how they were going in their life. This was always the first conversation starting point! I sometimes didn’t achieve these meetings week after week due to travel and other commitments, but the intention was there, and I aimed to touch base by phone and check in if I couldn’t make the meeting. 

And now for the amount of time you will need to spend with your direct reports of remote teams – via technology and not in person – you will miss many of the body language cues that give the majority of non-verbal information as to how people are travelling personally. Because of this, you will now need to DOUBLE the amount of time you spend with each direct report to check in on them. How can you set this up? If you are unsure; ask them!

Tip #2 Minimise direct report numbers and re-organise reporting structures

The number of direct reports in your team is critical for this to work. Any more than eight and it won’t be effective. That is another good rule of thumb – and how can you set up your teams NOW if you haven’t already, so that people have fewer than eight direct reports?

If you have more than eight direct reports on your team now, you may need to re-organise reporting arrangements so that you have other key leaders in your team checking in on no-fewer than eight people per week – and reporting back to you how those people are going.

Tip #3 Delegate the work

Remote working teams may be a massive change to what people are used to in your business – depending on the culture of your business and technology available. If it is new for you – assume your primary role (if it wasn’t already) is communication and checking in on people. So any task oriented work that you have been assigned to deliver may need to be delegated to others – or communicated to be paused or the deliverable and agreements adjusted – so that your time may be freed up to be there for your team. 

You will spend the majority of your time checking in on people and you will be surprised how much time this will take and be prepared that tasks won’t get done. And if you are prioritising completing tasks due to upward pressure to deliver – and not prioritising communication – you will not be a VISIBLE LEADER for your remote team. Right now your team needs you to communicate certainty in anxious times. Your team needs you right now.