Managing Remotely

Leading remote teams creates some unique challenges. This is especially true for those of us who work as consultants.

Remote workers often don’t understand expectations and how to be extra vigilant about being accountable, according to Gallup. “Employees learn a lot about their expectations from context — and the less time they spend in the office, the less context they have,” say Gallup researchers. “So, managers need to be explicit about what remote workers must produce. The parameters, deadlines and metrics of tasks must be crystal clear, but so should the manager’s requests.”

Managing expectations is always difficult. What’s expected often gets confused as it’s passed from manager to manager and peer to peer (as we’ve all experienced playing the “Telephone Game” as children). When working remote, the challenge increases. We are exposed to fewer peer examples and support systems. We can no longer just drop in on peers and managers to get clarity.

Here are three things that can help:

  1. Own half the loaf. While managers should be clear in the directions they provide, it isn’t always the case. As a consultant, you own half the relationship. You remain accountable for ensuring that the right message was heard. If you have even the slightest niggling that there is a gap in understanding, go back and get on the same page.
  2. Repeat backs. I love this tool. When a manager give you a directive, it is wise to repeat back to them what you think you heard. It’s great way to build confidence and demonstrate active listening. That you clearly understand the mission. The technique is useful when talking face-to-face, meeting virtually, or responding to directive via text or email.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Chances are, you have more than one directive to juggle. It’s essential that your manager and team understands your short-term and long-term goals and expectations for success. Share you task list (top three items) of what you perceive is most important to accomplish for the week. For longer-range goals, provide a roadmap of your vision and how you see your work developing over the next three months. Lists and roadmaps not only ensure alignment, such sharing can often prompt new ideas and innovation.

Using such tools is a great way to spark meaningful conversations and to ensure that you and your manager are on the same page. What ideas do you have about managing expectations when working remote?

Author: Barry Lawrence | Senior Communications Consultant


Highlight has sponsored Britepaths’ Digital Access Drive with a grant of $5,000 to support qualifying families facing limited digital resources during this upcoming school year.

This fall, students within Fairfax County will be attending school virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For families facing economic hardship, online learning presents a major hurdle. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is offering families without internet access essential Wi-Fi and hotspot resources, however, FCPS anticipates an approaching shortage in these unforeseen back-to-school supplies. Additionally, low-income housing units – often characterized by inexpensive, industrial cinder-block construction – inefficiently provide adequate internet services as devices are consistently unreliable or completely inoperable.

In response, Britepaths is planning to supplement internet access for qualifying families by providing small grants of up to $500 per household paid directly to their local service provider. Each household grant will cover up to 6 months of internet service providing students the connection they require for distance learning.

Highlight is participating in this effort by sponsoring a dedicated “Digital Access” grant of $5,000, which will provide at least 10 families 6 months of high-speed internet access. “Highlight is a technology-focused firm that supports federal agencies including the FCC and Department of Education. We are pleased that we can help families in our community in a way that aligns with our support at the federal level. We appreciate Britepaths leading this initiative to help close the digital divide in Fairfax County,” said CEO Rebecca Andino.

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About Highlight

Highlight is an award-winning woman owned ISO® 9001, ISO 20000. ISO 27001, ISO 44001, ISO 56002 certified, CMMI-DEV Level 3 and CMMI-SVC Level 3 appraised woman-owned small business that provides critical services to more than 20 U.S. federal government customers. Using our HI-WAY™™ best practices framework, we design and deliver solutions that integrate current systems and procedures, address all stakeholders, and seamlessly advance the mission. With over 10 years of federal contracting experience, we apply our proven transformation and evolution process to deliver quality services that balance agility, continuity, security, and compliance.

About Britepaths

Britepaths’ mission is to provide our Fairfax County area neighbors in need with short-term safety-net services and empower them to work toward long-term self-sufficiency. For 36 years, we have been providing help and hope to struggling residents of the Fairfax County area. Similar to a business, we provide a service to the community called social impact. Social impact is the effect an organization’s actions have on the wellbeing of the community. Britepaths serves more than 7,000 households in Fairfax County, which is approximately 11.5 percent of the households who live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.