Remote work has become entrenched and widespread in organisations, more specifically in the aftermath of COVID-19. In fact, the majority of businesses plan to stay partially or completely remote. While it’s true employees prefer remote working arrangements, research suggests it can lead to lower motivation. Communication barriers, tech issues, poor performance, and high turnover could be some of the consequences of poorly managed remote teams.
However, managers and leaders can do a lot to create a motivating, highly productive environment for their remote teams. Fully remote businesses can and do succeed in their work arrangements. If you’re managing a remote or partly remote team, consider these six strategies for increasing motivation in your staff.
1. Provide the right tools
One of the most important strategies is to support your remote employees with the right tools. These support workflows and productivity as well as communication, collaboration, and coordination. For most team set-ups, access to platforms with email, chat, time tracking, and project management features can be invaluable. Other tools include video conferencing, file sharing, and productivity tools. Look out for tools specific to your industry as well; for example, mobile workforce platforms can offer a lot of value if you’re in the logistics sector.
Having the right internal communication tools is essential for staying connected as a team. Offer tools with instant messaging features for informal conversations. Offer guidance on how to best utilise these different platforms so your team members aren’t bombarded with incessant communications. Regular video calls, in particular, give you a chance to show your face as the team leader and build a stronger, more personalised relationship with individual team members.
2. Recognise and reward
When rewarding your employees, keep in mind individuals can be motivated by intrinsic (such as purpose and a sense of accomplishment) as well as extrinsic (for example, status and pay) factors. Giving your remote team workers the rewards and recognition they deserve is one of the most powerful ways to motivate and engage them.
Publicise your recognition on social media and other organisational channels. Encourage other team members to celebrate the individual’s contributions. Rewards like subscriptions to streaming services, bonuses, and gift vouchers are easy and effective ways to show your appreciation. In other cases, you could consider personalised thank-yous for doing a great job, gift packs, or even holiday rewards.
If you make an effort to create an employee and reward program, your employees could be more likely to perform better and be happier and more productive. They could contribute more and stay with you for longer. All of these can lead to a more positive organisational culture with stronger morale.
3. Align to goals and mission
Communicate the why to your team to reinforce a sense of purpose. In other words, reminding your team of the overarching mission and long-term goals can be an effective way to motivate them. Consider their values and try to highlight how achieving the business’s goals aligns with these goals. For example, this could be solving a certain problem for consumers or excelling and surpassing the competition in quality products and services. Link individual contributions to how these goals will be achieved.
4. Offer challenges and growth opportunities
Keep encouraging your employees to do their best so they will find their roles interesting and challenging. You could do this by giving them new types of work and supporting them in going beyond their comfort zones. Offer them growth opportunities, like the chance to learn new skills on the job or free training courses.
At a practical level, use tools like visual scoreboards and leaderboards to set out clear goals for individual and group achievement. In addition, hold regular performance meetings and have one-on-one sessions for honest feedback. Give individuals positive feedback and reinforcement when they do well.
5. Capture feedback
To manage your remote team successfully, it’s important to both give feedback and seek it from your employees. Regular feedback helps with performance management. On the other hand, your team should have avenues for voicing any concerns or suggestions. Take note that employees who feel heard tend to be more motivated and empowered.
Do your best to act on your employees’ suggestions for improvements, whether that’s on technology tools or frequency and duration of meetings. If your team members are hesitant about feedback or vague in their answers, try anonymous survey tools. Well-written questions can guide employees to give more specific, valuable feedback on how to increase motivation.
6. Foster trust and team identity
Create opportunities for informal interactions, like holding a virtual party over a video conferencing platform and having everyone play a game and enjoy a drink. Other ideas include team-building events, remote happy hours, quizzes, workplace competitions, or even a weekly virtual lunch for the whole team.
Also, foster trust by giving each team member enough autonomy. Instead of micromanaging your staff, show them you trust them to do their best and produce good work. Focus on the results and deadlines and let them take care of how they do their work. Giving each team member more flexibility and ownership over their work processes can empower them and raise productivity and morale. It also eliminates the need for too many time-wasting updates.
Remote working arrangements appear to be here to stay. Organisations that move quickly to set up the right environment to support their remote workers will likely enjoy an advantage over their competitors. The right technology tools, recognising and rewarding employees appropriately, reminding them of the overarching mission, and offering opportunities for growth are all important for remote workers.
In addition, giving them a chance to provide feedback, along with a culture of trust and strong team identity can also drive higher motivation. With highly motivated employees, you’ll be likely to experience lower turnover, higher productivity, enhanced customer satisfaction, and growth in revenue and profit.