Managing Senior Leaders’ Remote-Work Concerns

Going back to the office amid the ongoing pandemic can be fraught with emotions. Is it safe? Can you socially distance from colleagues? Are masks required? Many professionals who have been working from home over the past year are reluctant to head back to the office but some senior leaders are looking to require staff to work in the office again, citing reasons such as distractions at home and the loss of collaboration and company culture.

If you are trying to balance your sales team’s concerns with senior leadership’s preferences, read on. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share tips from management consultant Liz Kislik on how to make a case for your team’s continued remote work.

Focus on what your leaders care about. Rather than trying to appeal to leaders’ compassion, focus on showing them how remote work helps the company. For example, by allowing employees to work from home, you may be retaining skilled sales professionals who might otherwise have to leave to provide childcare, notes Kislik. You also might be able to recruit talent that has been unavailable locally.

Get to the root of leaders’ concerns. Sometimes, leaders may question certain employees’ ability to work effectively from home. To manage this, ask senior leaders to articulate their specific concerns about employees who work remotely, suggests Kislik.

Highlight employee engagement. Another approach is to ensure employees are engaged, whether sales reps are working from home or have returned to the office. Kislik recommends inviting leaders to video meetings that include both in-person and remote workers.

Keep as much structure as possible. Senior leaders may feel more comfortable about letting employees continue to work from home if you can emphasize normalcy. For example, if senior leaders regularly met with you team over coffee before the pandemic, try scheduling virtual coffee hours at the original day and time. This can help strengthen relationships and eliminate a sense of loss and disarray that leaders may feel.

Match leaders’ communication style. According to Kislik, it’s also a good idea to mirror leaders’ mode and rhythm of communication when you want them to get on board with continuing remote work. When leaders are accustomed to stopping by employees’ desks or speaking with them in the hall, they may miss those interactions. Find out how leaders like to communicate and ask about their preference for time and frequency. Then, convey this information to your sales team and help them stay visible.

Emphasize formal respect. If senior leaders think your sales reps are working from home in their pajamas all day, show them that your employees are taking their jobs seriously. For example, if your company’s leaders are traditionalists, encourage your sales reps to show up in business attire for the next all-team meeting.

Ask for organizational support. If senior leaders are adamant about employees returning to the workplace, check with your HR department, suggests Kislik. They may be able to provide leaders with helpful data and research that shows how working from home is benefitting the company.

Some employees can’t wait to get back to the office, but others prefer to work from home. Even after the pandemic, you can help give your sales reps the ideal work environment by easing any tension with your company’s senior leaders.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Liz Kislik is a management consultant, executive coach and facilitator. She has taught at NYU and Hofstra University, and recently spoke at TEDxBaylorSchool.

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