I found my passion for teaching people how to lead virtual power teams years ago when I was leading a team spread across 20 countries in Europe. Through this demanding project, and subsequently through leading a department across three continents, I faced many difficulties and learned a great deal, often the hard way. I realized that many people simply don’t know how to lead remote teams effectively or how to deliver great results within the context of a remote working environment.

The reality is that the percentage of companies with employees working remotely or even spread across the globe is growing. This is the future which we are facing. Managers are constantly faced with the challenge of managing employees who they haven’t ever met in person. How do you ensure a human connection and how do you strive for high performance in conditions like these?

I describe proven methods for tackling these questions in a program I call “The 10 Big Rocks,” which symbolises the 10 pillars on which a remote working environment can be built successfully. These include:

  • Look for a human connection with every team member. Let them show their personal side. Learn about each other’s personalities. There is no time at the coffee machine when you work remotely, so we need to make up for that.
  • Structure your communication. Give everyone the opportunity to speak. Everyone needs to provide input in order to feel part of the team.
  • Recognize people for their efforts. Do not underestimate the power of recognition, it can work wonders. If people are doing a great job, notice that and reward it.

I also recommend creating motivational targets. For example, if a project is planned for delivery in one year, it may be possible to finish it with within only 9 months if the team is motivated to deliver results and focus on priorities. Costs associated with the project can then be reduced significantly and reinvested back into the team. The team could be rewarded with the trip to exotic location, for example, if several months of work are saved—an excellent possibility for team-building as well, benefiting everyone.

As I myself frequently work from home or on-the-go between conferences and events, I realize how important it is to manage my own time efficiently. People often ask me how do I do it, as the father of five young daughters, a winning athlete, and a leadership speaker. It seems that there is simply not enough time for everything.

My secret is to identify the top five things I want to do each day and focus on doing the hardest ones first. If distractions are getting in the way, notice them and refocus. Use visualisation and affirmation techniques to imagine the result you aim for. And take breaks! Every hour, take 10 minutes, and and every third hour, take 30 minutes for an energizing active break.

Also, spend time with your family when they need you the most—be flexible. Especially since it’s likely that one of the main reasons you are working for yourself or working remotely in the first place is the flexibility to work whenever and wherever you like.

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