In January 2021, amidst the third UK national lockdown, we conducted research showing that an overwhelming 95% of participants consider remote management slightly or entirely different from face-to-face management.

As the workplace becomes accustomed to a virtual setting, the results demonstrate that in-person interactions with team members are being replaced by a remote management style which places greater emphasis on flexibility, communication, trust and overall collaboration.

Remote vs face-to-face management style

The survey revealed that 55% of respondents reported spending more, or much more time on people management activities, with only 16% reporting they spend less. A ‘collaborative’ approach was considered to be the most effective management style within a remote environment, where clear objectives are discussed and set together. Unsurprisingly, a ‘delegate’, hands-off style was voted the least effective. This explains the additional time spent managing people as a collaborative approach is much more time-consuming. Yet, it also emphasises the importance of providing clear communication and then employing trust to allow home-working colleagues to carry out a task effectively, and with greater autonomy. For more on the topic of building trust in the workplace, take a listen to the HR Uprising podcast.

Are people managers adapting well to remote management?

Another key finding from our survey results was that 95% of respondents value their role as a people manager or consider it a key responsibility that they take very seriously. This is a testament to the people managers who, despite a rapid shift to the working environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, have invested a great deal of time and effort to adapt their remote management style to ease the pressure off teams, despite having less visibility. At a time when employees are dealing with uncertainty both at home and at work, being proactive and adopting a human-centric approach is clearly a defining trait for successful people management. This is discussed in greater detail in our e-book on virtual performance management which you can access here.

A shift in attitude towards performance management practices

When asked what people management behaviours were more important within a remote environment compared to face-to-face, a staggering 82% of people rated providing frequent check-ins and one-to-ones as significantly more important. With teams distributed in varying locations, the need for pre-arranged conversations or meetings allows remote management to feel more structured and more onerous . Whereas office-based management would be more ad hoc. Additionally, 58% rated providing recognition and praise as more important within the current remote landscape, as was taking a personal interest in an individual, at 57%. As face-to-face interactions are removed, setting clear goals, recognising achievements and adopting an empathetic approach, is more vital than ever to ensure employees are continually motivated and encouraged within a virtual world.

What the survey results really tell us:

“These results demonstrate a clear shift in the people management style within a remote setting and the importance of creating a learning culture that is built on trust and support by empowering teams with the opportunity to enjoy greater autonomy,” said Lucinda Carney, CEO of Actus Software.

“However, what is equally revealing is that remote people management requires a level of collaboration in which teams are offered regular, informative feedback to ensure employees are coping well in this entirely new environment. It also means taking the additional time to recognise your team’s achievements while taking a genuine interest in your employees within a workplace that is now defined by distance.”

Support for remote people managers

For further information on this topic, watch our webinar where Chartered Psychologist and host of the popular HR Uprising Podcast, Lucinda Carney, shares her practical tips for making virtual high performance a reality.

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