Insights for Executives

How to Be A Great Remote Manager

Cedric Jackson

August 10, 2021

Being a great remote manager doesn't have to be intimidating.

Actually, being a great remote manager depends on the same fundamentals as being a great in-office manager.

That's because remote employees are driven by the same principles as on-site employees:

  1. Autonomy - The desire to direct themselves
  2. Mastery - The desire to improve and develop skills
  3. Purpose - The desire to work on something that has meaning and is important

However, there's one key difference: Remote employees desire autonomy to an even greater degree.

Here we'll cover the skills and traits that you can focus on to become an excellent remote manager.


No matter the type of business you manage or where your team is located, you always want to keep communications open.

Your team should be able to reach you very easily.

Importantly, you should have several methods of communication available, so your team can choose one they feel comfortable with.

You also want to make it a point to at least check regularly. Depending on how close you are with your team, this can be once a day, a few times a week or once a week.

Adapt Communication to Meet Your Team’s Preferences

When it comes to choosing the communication methods to use, consider what works for your team.

Ask them for feedback as to what methods they prefer. For example, when giving them details for a task, would they prefer a lengthy email, a word document, or an explanatory video?

Letting your team choose the communication method (within reason) makes them feel appreciated and helps ensure that they understand the instructions. 

Be Lighthearted

As you craft your communications, try to stay lighthearted.

There should be a nice balance between lightheartedness and professionalism.

Your goal with this is to show some personality and give your team a feeling of human interaction. This helps you build connections with your team. It also helps prevent feelings of isolation. 

Get to Know Your Team

When building team connections, remote managers should make an effort to get to know their team.

If your team is geographically close, consider an in-person meeting. Otherwise, consider some sort of virtual team building or getting-to-know-you activity.

You can also get to know your team through one-on-one meetings that combine casual chit-chat and work-related conversations.

Consider something like a virtual morning meeting for casual chit-chat once a week. Count it as part of the team’s work hours.

You can even get creative with virtual pizza parties or cocktail parties where everyone receives pizza or ingredients at their house. 

Provide Feedback and Encouragement

Great remote managers understand the importance of giving their team feedback, both good and bad.

They know how to frame feedback outlining potential improvements. Most importantly, they know that just because you don’t interact with an employee in person, that doesn’t mean they don’t need feedback or encouragement.

he encouragement can be as simple as acknowledging a job well done or the effort your team puts in.

It can also include showing you care by providing freebies like gift cards or company-branded water bottles or T-shirts. 

Encourage Creativity and Innovation

If your team is remote, the employees are likely used to a higher level of independence.

Reinforce this by encouraging them to be creative and innovative.

This will not only help them feel like a valued member of the team, but it will also promote engagement. As a bonus, it can improve your company’s processes or uncover points of view you were previously not aware of. 

Focus on the Results Instead of the Process

Going back to that independence, acknowledge that each member of your team knows what works best for them.

As such, don’t require them to complete a task with a specific process, as long as they produce the desired results. Essentially, you want to give employees the freedom to use the methods that are most efficient or productive for them instead of micromanaging.

This will boost productivity and show your employees that you value their opinions and think they are intelligent. 

Use Tools to Your Advantage

Remember that just because you are in charge, that doesn’t mean that you have to do everything alone.

Take a look at the various tools that you can use to your advantage and put them to good use. There are various applications and tools for communication, task sharing, and collaboration.

Think about which ones would help you, and go ahead and use them. 

Be Realistic About Home Offices 

Most people working remotely will work from home at least some of the time, if not all of it.

Be realistic in your expectations for those home offices, especially if your company doesn’t offer a stipend. In other words, be okay with a little bit of mess or the occasional interruption by a child or pet.

Don’t just be realistic about the standards you set for your employee’s home offices; do the same for yourself.

This will reduce your stress and also help keep you relatable. Additionally, employees will know that you are okay with the occasional mess or interruption from them if it happens on your end as well. 

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