Five ways to motivate your remote team

Motivation is the force behind the energy, enthusiasm and level of commitment your employees bring to work. It’s what gets them up in the morning, ready to tackle the day’s tasks.

With many employers having to quickly adopt work-from-home policies due to COVID-19, some are seeing previously happy, high-performing teams less motivated than they were in the office.

Periods of low motivation in workers isn’t unusual, but the current pandemic has the potential to impact even the most dedicated and energetic workers. And, COVID-19 is affecting everyone at the same time, so the overall balance in the workforce might tip towards demotivation.

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During events that have the potential to impact motivation en masse, it’s important for HR and line managers to address motivation issues before they become too debilitating, and to get their teams back on track.

Here are five things you can do to boost your remote team’s energy:

1. Celebrate wins

There’s nothing like recognition for a job well done to boost people’s morale. If teams feel they are working hard but no-one has noticed, they will soon become demoralised. But celebrating and sharing why team achievements are important to company goals shows that hard work is seen and appreciated.

Shout about your team’s successes early and often (at meetings, in the company newsletter, on your HR portal) and make sure they get credit for their efforts and expertise.

2. Provide a space for your team to share ideas

Being asked to complete tasks where the solution is prescribed to the letter or being restricted to tackle problems strictly within the limits of a role – without any room for creativity – can be signs of micromanagement, and extremely demotivating for employees. Working remotely, there may be a greater tendency for managers to micromanage due to how they communicate when delegating tasks, or a fear that employees will underperform when out of sight.

When tasks become mindless, employees can quickly get bored and switch off. To keep work collaborative, creative and enjoyable, and to discourage micromanagement, HR could promote online project management tools. This can improve the briefing process between managers and employees, and allow people to collaborate, fulfilling their curiosity and developing creativity through teamwork.

3. Help your team protect their time

One of the challenges remote workers face is the ability to separate their work from their private lives when both happen at home. With no office to go to and no commute, it’s very easy to just roll out of bed and head straight to the computer. And with easy access to work emails through personal devices no matter the time and place, many people inadvertently fall into the ‘always-on’ work culture trap. Building up such habits is detrimental, not just to employees’ health but to their motivation and energy levels, too.

CV-Library found 72% of the 1,200 UK employees they surveyed said they’ve sent work-related emails or had calls outside of their work hours. This habit is highly disruptive to work-life balance, leading to problems such as increased stress levels and exhaustion. And when an employee is at risk of or experiences burnout, it’s difficult to stay motivated or enthusiastic at work. By setting guidance on timekeeping and actively encouraging your team to shut off from work communications (unless extremely necessary) outside of office hours, your employees can take the time to refresh and re-energise.

4. Invest in your team

Our survey found that better training opportunities is one of the top three things that employees feel would help them perform better in the workplace. A common reason teams might ‘give up’ trying is that they don’t have the right skills or resources for the job – essentially banging their heads against a brick wall because they’re not properly equipped/trained.

And it’s even easier for people to give up when they’re working from home and perceive themselves to be cut off from support.

Businesses need to tackle this head on, asking their staff whether they feel they have what they need to do their jobs properly and then taking action to fill any gaps. There are a lot of online, and free, learning opportunities available right now.

Encouraging staff to engage in learning while working from home is motivating in that it demonstrates that the business is still invested in their development. It also provides people with a break from their everyday to-do list, and hopefully reignites their enthusiasm in their role.

5. Recognise that adjusting can take time and there may be slumps

Even if you’ve done everything you can to motivate your team in these trying times, some people may just take longer to adjust than others. Many factors could be affecting their motivation, and they could be beyond work matters altogether.

It’s important that your team is aware that they’re supported and have you to turn to for guidance. Keep communications open and give people time. If you feel that someone is really demotivated, step in and ask what you can do to help. You may need to reconsider the tasks they’re working on, or if they need assistance with their overall workload.

Motivated employees are often driven and will take the initiative to get things done, benefitting you and everyone involved. By truly understanding what keeps people going and providing support where necessary, your team can remain energised regardless of their work location.

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