“It’s like learning to drive on the wrong side of the road,” exclaimed Larry when I asked him how he experienced the shift to leading remote employees. “You have to get to the same destination as before, but you now have different signals, cues, and controls — and that does take some time getting used to!”

Neither organizations nor employees anticipated such a swift move to home-based remote work in March 2020. Not surprisingly, early in the pandemic, a Harvard survey found that 40% of leaders were unprepared to manage remote employees, and 41% struggled to keep their remote team members engaged. Similarly, only 40% of employees working from home reported feeling supported by their superiors.

Two-and-a-half years down the road, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay. The burden of choreographing the performance of team members, now increasingly dispersed — at home, at the office, and in different time zones — has left many managers unsure about how to best get work done. Not surprisingly, many managers prefer their staff to return to the office, only to face resistance and even rebellion.

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