In a webinar delivered to more than 2,000 University of Michigan alumni and business professionals, Lindy Greer, associate professor and faculty director of the Sanger Leadership Center, explained how remote working can change a workspace for the better by allowing for productive team communication and organized leadership. 

In her discussion, Greer acknowledged the downfalls of remote work before diving into the benefits. She discussed the struggle of not being able to sync up with a work team as well as the lack of excitement in video chats. Greer sympathized with workers around the nation who are working from home throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m super excited again to talk about why remote work sucks and is kind of awful at times as many of us have realized,” Greer said. “But at the same time, then how do we take these challenges to get really intentional about the peoples’ side of work?”

Greer responded to questions from employees of companies throughout the country who were viewing the seminar. Melanie Weaver Barnett, chief executive education officer at the Business School, spoke on behalf of remote viewers, taking questions and ideas from the webinar’s chat.

Barnett asked if there is a specific personality and aptitude needed to be successful in remote management. 

“For me, if I’m doing remote work, what are the three things to look for,” Greer said. “(For me, it) would be productivity or independence, comfort with technology and social support.”

Greer transitioned to discuss the positives involved in remote working, noting that many successful remote teams work to build a family culture. She said by keeping a company’s values in mind, such as customer service or trust, leaders can create a community for their workers. With a feeling of belonging, Greer said employees become more engaged and more willing to handle the issues at hand. 

“One of the unique things that they mentioned that I thought that was very interesting about what makes them work well remotely is culture and having a really strong culture where they really promote this idea of family,” Greer said. “They put a lot of effort there to build a family-like culture where they check in with people a lot.”

Barnett engaged in the discussion, exploring what methods and technologies have worked best for her own work.

“We’ve been starting out our meetings by saying we’re going to do a quick check-in with your teammate. And immediately everybody’s paired up with one other person, you don’t know who you’re going to get paired up with,” Barnett said. “You do a quick check-in: What’s working for you/What are you struggling with? Is there anything you need? And people have expressed really benefiting from that.”

Business freshman Noah Cox said he was interested in how businesses are transforming their communication while working remotely.

“Business is all about communication, but communication is only 7 percent the words you say,” Cox said. “So even work that can be done remotely is hugely impacted in this environment, but businesses have to learn to adapt like using video conferencing as much as possible.”

Greer ended the webinar with a few key takeaways. She offered advice on how to manage a remote team in an organized, intentional manner.

“Scaffold together your team to be intentional about the core things that teams need to do well,” Greer said. “This includes the culture, the objectives, the processes and the ability to experiment, and write and use those playbooks to run your virtual meetings.”

Contributor Laura Millar can be reached at

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