How to effectively lead remote/telework teams.


Create a culture of trust

  • Set expectations for working in the open so the whole team is accountable to each other – and hold yourself to the same standard.
  • Make sure your telework policies and team agreements focus on outcomes and results, not just time spent working.
  • Be vulnerable and human with your team – show them by example that it’s okay to struggle with a problem or ask a question.

Set expectations and norms

  • Establish work assignment logs or other tracking tools to provide specific and attainable performance expectations for all employees — those in the office and remote workers.
  • Create and write down team agreements to establish baselines for things like:
    • Appropriate response times for different communication channels
    • When to use email vs. group chat vs. other tools
    • Remote meeting etiquette
    • How to submit work, track time, ask questions

Empower your team

  • Acknowledge challenges out loud (via group chat, video call, etc.) and give your team a safe platform to talk about any strain they are experiencing.
  • Normalize failure and encourage people to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes. This will not make your teams fail more, it will empower them to succeed.
  • Encourage “distributed leadership” – rather than trying to micromanage everything, allow natural leaders to emerge and let teams self-organize when they are comfortable doing so.


  • Make sure policies, plans, and other important documents are easily accessible to teams through a “Single Source of Truth” or central location.
  • Use multiple channels to communicate important information (i.e., email, group chat, video call announcement).
  • Hold virtual “office hours” where anyone can drop by with a question or concern.
  • Schedule regular All Hands calls where you can share updates with the whole team, or invite team members to present on their projects.
  • Establish regular check-ins for project updates or smaller teams:
    • What I did yesterday
    • What I’m working on today
    • Questions / concerns / action items

Understand everyone’s context

  • Take some time to learn about various work styles and communication styles and how they will affect each individual’s remote work approach.
  • Be aware of cultural differences that may affect distributed team dynamics (i.e., speaking up to participate in the conversation vs. remaining silent on video calls)
  • During check-ins with direct reports, specifically ask about any concerns they have, and see how you can support them.

Build human connection

  • Schedule topic-based social video calls to build connection and camaraderie for team members (i.e., favorite movies, funny pet stories, family traditions).
  • Develop remote rituals for celebrating with the team and acknowledging contributions.
  • Create virtual spaces for “water cooler” and non-work interactions (i.e., group chat channels focused on music, gardening, or other commonly shared interests).
  • Encourage everyone to take a few minutes at the beginning of virtual meetings to acknowledge “humanness” by asking about the other person’s day, weekend plans, or other topics of general interest.








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