How to Keep a Remote Team Motivated

Working from home is the new normal today and in the foreseeable future, not only for most companies but for most professionals looking for potential roles. According to a survey by Flexjobs of 2,100 people in the U.S. who worked remotely during the pandemic, 65% wanted to continue working from home, while 58% said they would “absolutely” quit and look for a new job if they could not continue remote work with their present one.

Hiring may not be much of an issue if you’re a remote company. However, making them stay with you is a different story.

Will Cotter is the founder of BetterCleans, a professional cleaning company, and manages a remote-first workforce with members from different countries worldwide. In this article, he shared some of his strategies to keep them motivated and happy.

Trust and empower your people

Micromanagement is the surest way to demotivate your employees —remote or not. Typical micromanagers work with a mindset that it’s their job to monitor the team’s online time, sending out incessant Slack messages or emails checking on what you’re currently up to. In reality, this doesn’t accomplish anything aside from accelerating your attrition rate.

Instead, running a remote company with team members working from home requires immense trust in everyone’s capability and accountability. Keep your team motivated and empowered by constantly assuring them that they have your full confidence. Encourage them to take the initiative and ownership of their tasks and roles in the company. Focus on output and measurable results, like deadlines and targets, rather than total hours worked.

Set a clear vision and realistic expectations 

One way to motivate your team is by leading and giving them a sense of purpose and direction. It’s impossible to keep them motivated if they have to keep guessing what you want them to do or how they will do that. Instead, provide them with a list of tasks they need to accomplish, like targets or daily tasks.

Maintain an open communication 

Communication is key in identifying and resolving potential roadblocks like in any relationship. Whether it’s regarding management, policies, or critical processes, encourage your team to give uncensored feedback to help you continuously improve. It also sends them a message that their voices are heard, and they’re valued as pivotal role players in the company.

Praise in public, criticize in public 

Communication is a two-way street. To keep your remote team motivated, it’s also essential to give them feedback about their performance consistently. Do not keep them in the dark or let them second-guess themselves.    

  • Make it a point to schedule a weekly or monthly catch-up. 

Add a little human touch and ask everyone in the team how their life’s going beyond work, how they’re adjusting to working from home so far, and how you can support them in any way. 

  • Highlight stellar parts of their work. 

Recognize exceptional members and their achievements in a more public setting, like during a town hall with the team or an email blast sent to everyone in the company. This equates to a little virtual “good job” pat on the back, which every hardworking team member deserves. When employees feel valued, they are more likely to care and stay longer with the company.

  • Do one-on-one calls for areas that need improvement 

Avoid putting your team members on the spot. Instead, discuss errors or other issues about their performance in private. Coach and provide them with the necessary tools and training to develop or become better at their roles. 

Encourage them to take breaks 

Despite its many benefits, working from home also has its downsides. It blurs the thin line separating work from home life. People who work remotely burn out quicker and get sick more often because they find it hard to unplug and stop themselves from responding to emails or work-related instant messages on Slack on their mobile phones.

In a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. workers, 65% said that at the end of their workday, they feel physically and emotionally drained from juggling work and family life, and 60% feel guilty for taking breaks while working from home.

Working nonstop, combined with daily life’s usual struggles, can take a toll on their mental health. That’s why taking a break should be non-negotiable for anyone. Here are some tips to address this with your own remote team:

  • Respect after-office hours and weekends. Do not send emails or schedule work calls or deadlines during these times.
  • Remind team members to take their lunch breaks or use their leaves if they haven’t taken any for a long time.
  • Make allowances for deadline adjustments and encourage them to take a day off when they open up about struggling with something in their personal life.
  • Tell them that leave credits are not convertible to cash, so they are forced to take them.

Provide opportunities for growth 

Employees become motivated when they have something to look forward to. So, whether it’s a promotion, a salary increase, or both, it’s great to let them know that there are exciting things in store for them when they give it their best. 

  • Set up a career plan for individual team members, outlining paths that lead to management roles.
  • Reward them financially with bonuses or salary increases when they reach their KPIs or goals.

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