Maintaining a remote staff comes with its own unique challenges―one of which is how to motivate your remote team. A business can’t perform at an optimal level and be successful if the very people on the ground are not motivated and not performing at their best.
Businesses must always remember that employee motivation is a continuous process. Managers must constantly treat motivation and engagement as a long-term endeavour for it to bring effects that last.
Here are a few ways in which you can motivate your remote team despite the distance:
Keep a channel always open for communication
One of the key strategies to motivate your remote team is to have a smooth, consistent, and open communication between you and your remote team through your chosen channel.
Creating an online channel that everyone in your team or project has access to not only encourages and supports a culture of strong communication but also improves your employer-employee relationship by making yourself reachable.
Keeping remote employees connected is an effective way to maintain―or even increase―your remote staff’s productivity. According to a 2007 article by Ian Whiteling, creating a culture where employee input is valued and utilised creates employee motivation, which is instrumental in accomplishing the organisation’s goals.
Encourage your remote team to communicate via online channels such as Slack whenever they have questions or when they need help in their tasks. There are plenty of team collaboration apps that make communication with your remote staff quick and easy, here are some to name a few:
As it stands, keeping an open communication channel with your remote team helps in surmounting the challenges of managing remote employees while still motivating them.
Offer growth opportunities and invest in them
The second key strategy to motivate your remote team is to understand their worth and offer growth opportunities to enhance their skills further.
According to the 2011 study by Globoforce Work Mood Tracker, when remote or in-house employees feel unappreciated, they are more likely to look for new jobs. In fact, 77% of the survey respondents were dissatisfied with their employers and say they would’ve worked harder if their efforts were better recognised. Proportional to that, 65% of the respondents say they would be happy and wouldn't be looking for new jobs if their employers recognised and valued the work they contributed.
That said, another way to motivate your remote team is by giving them the opportunity to learn additional skills and improve their current skill set. Here are a few popular online learning platforms you and your team may utilise:
By giving your remote team access to online learning platforms, you are essentially investing in the development of your remote staff and, ultimately, in the future of your business.
Offer positive feedback
Another way to motivate your remote team is to offer positive feedback. As stated by Kelly Services, an American office staffing company, it’s disheartening for any employee—remote or in-house—to hear back from their managers only when there is more work to be done.
The lack of consistent praise and recognition for projects done well can have a demotivating effect. Your remote team may get the idea that you do not value their time, contributions, and effort that they have invested in the completion of their tasks and ultimately, the project at hand.
Give praise when it is due and be intentional in showing your appreciation for their work. This is one of the things you can do to make up for the fact that working remotely does not have the usual office interaction that enables employer-employee relationships to easily flourish.
Gamify the work
Gamification in the workplace, also known as enterprise gamification, means applying game elements to increase employee performance. It’s done to drive motivation and develop a sense of mastery and control within employees.
According to The Top Gamification Statistics and Facts (2015) published by eLearning Industry, “gamification enable learners the boost in motivation they need to become active participants in the learning process”.
A lot of people assume that workforce gamification is an ineffective attempt to create motivation, but actually, gamifying work is a way to inspire and spur on your remote team to reach their goals and targets.
Instead of treating gamification as something like a video game along with its mechanics, it can be more effective if applied similarly to how we use fitness trackers.
When done right, here’s how gamification can help motivate your team:
1. Track their performance in real-time
Gamification focuses on the present. This is similar to the dynamic of how a basketball coach gives his/her team real-time feedback on how to keep on their offensive.
Showing them their performance, personalised benchmarks, and their set goals help the remote team rectify flaws and address issues in real-time.
2. Helps you be objective and fair
When evaluations are conducted fairly and objectively, employees feel good about their work, including their efforts and performance.
Through gamification, performance is assessed objectively by following a set standard made by the company. It drives performance effectively because it is easier to identify which areas your remote team needs to improve on individually.
3. Measure their performance with transparency
It’s important to communicate goals and objectives clearly to your remote staff. Being transparent with every member’s objectives, assigned tasks, progress, and results in an unbiased and impartial way to motivate your remote team.
It allows team members to see and understand how they are progressing in terms of their work; it also enables them to assess in which particular fields they excel in.
4. Drive the right behaviour
Competition has two sides: it can either serve as a positive motivation or as a source of unfairness. The latter can easily occur and only discourages other members when success is equivalent to reaching the top spot on the leaderboard.
In gamification, employee behaviour and activities that drive employee performance can also be objectively measured and assessed by following a set standard set up by the company.
Recognise individual and team accomplishments
Another way to motivate your remote team is through recognition. Every member wants to be recognised for their contribution to the team and, ultimately, to the company.
This can be done by organising a simple recognition activity where the involved team member is acknowledged and applauded for his/her accomplishment. You can also give out rewards such as cash incentives, gift cards, or anything similar. Here are some suggestions to help with your recognition initiative:
Reward those who align with and showcase the company’s values in their work is a good basis for the employee recognition program.
Have the criteria for giving out rewards. This avoids subjectivity and favouritism in the assessment and decision-making process. It’s also important to note that specifying who can qualify for these rewards is also another way to motivate your remote employees―because it’s already laid out for them to understand.
In relation to the implemented criteria, it’s also important to decide who will be a part of the decision-making body.
Lastly, decide on the types of rewards that will be handed out to your team, both remote and in-house. However, also remember that the gift is not as important as the sense of accomplishment and acquiring the given incentive which helps in motivating your remote team.
Offer promotions to deserving employees
The best incentive to motivate your remote team is to offer them opportunities for career progression and increased compensation. This is a simple yet very effective strategy that businesses and organisations have been using to excite and empower promising staff.
Essentially, when you offer opportunities for promotions, you offer them opportunities to move closer to their dreams and life goals.
Without a doubt, maintaining your team’s motivation and their level of performance can be laborious at times―especially since there are unique challenges of managing remote employees. The most glaring is the distance and communication-related struggles.
Make a point to visit them
Lastly but most importantly, you can motivate your remote team by visiting them wherever they are across the globe.
Here at Cloud Employee, we encourage our clients to visit their remote teams here in the Philippines so they can spend more time with them in and out of the office. If they can’t come here, some of our clients will invite their remote teams to their headquarters instead.
Either of these methods has similar results. Spending time with each other helps strengthen the bond and camaraderie between our clients and their remote teams, which, consequently, positively affects the remote teams’ level of motivation and engagement in their roles.
That said, these easy-to-follow suggestions on how to motivate your remote team are just the tip of the iceberg―there are plenty of different methods out there that you can apply depending on your team’s needs.
In the end, what truly matters is the time and effort you put into making your remote team feel appreciated and valued.
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