3 Challenges of Leading in a Virtual Workplace

When work from home or hybrid work was implemented, the majority thought that this would just be a temporary set up and eventually things will get back to normal. But here we are one year later and almost halfway through 2021 sitting at our home desks, having video meetings one after another, struggling to figure out what could still change in this new workplace reality. Let’s face it, the only way to move forward is to accept that working remotely or working in a physical workplace at certain days of the week won’t be gone for long. 


But not everyone was meant to work from home or are used to a hybrid set up. As leaders, how do you transform the overall performance of your team while adapting to the ever changing workplace landscape and business goals? What can you start doing to set the direction and provide certainty for the rest of your team?


Before answering this question and delving into the ‘how tos’ of a virtual leader, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges and problems that new managers and senior managers are facing in the virtual workplace. 


3 Common Virtual Leadership Challenges 


  • Communication 


While video conferencing tools and messaging applications have been very useful in a remote work set up, there are discussions (most especially sensitive ones) that are easier to manage in a face to face conversation. At meetings, not everyone can seem to connect with the rest of the team causing them to leave meetings and discussions without a clear understanding on what was discussed and what is expected from each other. 


If you’re a manager who feels disconnected from the team, you end up micromanaging and constantly checking on them without aligning on where the communication gap is. Hosting constant virtual meetings does not really equate to productivity unless you can ensure that meetings are led and conducted in the right way. 


Pro Tip: Start equipping yourself with refreshed communication and collaboration skills to be able to build better connections within your team and manage expectations from your team well. 


  • Engagement 


Not all leaders can take the workplace changes well. For some, working remotely feels like they have been forced to do something they aren’t familiar with which could lead to constant pressure and stress. This is most true for some leaders who are used to managing and constantly checking up on their teams face to face. On the other hand, they also have their employees to worry about most especially those who are also struggling to cope in a remote set up and lack clear direction on what needs to be done. 


Pro-tip: In order to humanize employee engagement in a virtual world, look at activities you and your teams could try out. ‘Socials’ can be effective especially when your team needs to understand how everyone is dealing with the new changes at work. MIT Sloan lays out a few ways on how to facilitate informal interactions. 


  • Technology 


There has been an increase in integrating new systems, tools and processes as organizations started their transition towards a remote or hybrid work. However, with the introduction of new technologies, leaders might struggle to keep up to speed, enhance their current processes, and transfer the learning to their team. 


Pro Tip: A learning experience platform (LXP) is a good way for managers to conduct learning and engagement programs that would help keep their team members up to speed. An LXP is also a good way to onboard employees with new technologies and processes in the organization. Most business leaders nowadays work closely with their HR and L&D practitioners to ensure that employees are provided with learning pathways that are easy to digest.

Check out these L&D friendly technology tools 

Addressing these challenges can be done beyond the tips mentioned above. Some leaders might be able to lead more effectively with proper training from experts or implementing initiatives together with HR and L&D. Viventis offers a Leading in the Virtual Workplace Program to help new and seasoned managers lead and navigate the virtual  leadership space!

For more details, you may book a session briefing with the Viventis talent development experts. 



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