Remote workers are struggling. Coaching is necessary to set them up for success. The biggest challenges remote workers face are:
- Lack of clarity and communication
- Fewer opportunities for recognition and visibility
- Operating in different time zones and countries than colleagues
- Lacking workplace culture
According to Gallup, the historical level of engagement for exclusively remote employees is 18 percent higher than their full-time, on-site colleagues. There are, indeed, inherent benefits of working remote, as many of us are now well aware. Flexibility, money, and time saved on everything from commutes to wardrobes, and the ability to work from multiple parts of the globe make remote work a desirable arrangement.
But that doesn’t mean employees are immune to disengagement. In fact, engagement levels have dropped across all employees in the last year, remote, hybrid, remote-capable, and exclusively on-site.
How Can Remote Coaches Help?Let’s use Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play Hamilton to guide us through how coaching can occur in the remote world. In “The Room Where It Happens,” a song from this barrier-breaking hit musical, we learn that Aaron Burr, one of the main characters, is frustrated with being excluded from “the room where it happens.” He feels envious of being excluded from the place where important decisions are being made and where power is being exerted and gained.
One immediate lesson we can derive from those sentiments is that leaders and coaches need to strive to create better opportunities for inclusion and visibility for remote employees. If the proverbial water cooler is “the room where it happens,” how do our remote colleagues get to partake?
Another question we can glean from this perspective is where—and when—does coaching need to happen? Working across multiple time zones often makes it difficult (and inconvenient) for coaching conversations to happen in real-time. Coaches can engage in asynchronous coaching conversations via platforms and simple technologies as a conduit.
For example, Coaching.com, is one of many platforms dedicated to housing coaching-related information and communications. Within these online tools, coaches and coachees have one place where they can create goals, track progress, identify relevant subsequent actions, align on needs, and dedicate a shared space for visibility and accountability. They can also communicate updates and needs via messages and notifications, similar to most online and social media platforms—a familiar user experience for a specific coaching function.
But what about the actual conversations?
Nothing takes the place of synchronous conversations. But remote coaches and coachees don’t always have the luxury of their availability aligning and often rely on email communication to provide updates. The challenge here becomes context. Insights gleaned from coaching—for both parties involved—arrive via nonverbals, nuances, and subtle cues that email fails to provide.
Rather than spending time crafting detailed emails that ultimately lack the desired context necessary for compelling coaching insights, coaching can take place via video-based tools such as Loom. Loom allows both parties to easily record videos of themselves talking through issues that, from there, can be embedded into an email. Instead of reading an email, the recipient is seeing and hearing the live recording of the other without the need for a live Zoom call.
In addition to not having to occur in real-time, another benefit is taking advantage of body language cues, tone of voice, and the other elements that are missing in a regular email. Given the information this context allows, remote coaches can more adequately decide on the appropriate coaching behavior needed for the situation.
Indeed, these platforms and videos can be “the room where it happens.”