Most companies were able to overcome the challenges of moving their teams remote. They did this by setting clear working policies, expectations, and goals. They also provided the right tools to facilitate smooth communication and collaboration.
However, this is just the first step to enabling a successful remote work environment. The next phase is to find ways to motivate employees who work remotely and keep them motivated.
Employee motivation is at the core of every successful project, and knowing how to keep individuals as well as the entire team motivated is key.
10 Ways to Motivate Your Employees When Working From Home
A Buffer State Of Remote Work survey found that 21 percent of respondents reported difficulty staying motivated as one of their biggest challenges of working remotely.
When employees are unmotivated they won’t perform optimally, and this will affect your company’s overall performance. As a leader, you must be actively looking for strategies to motivate your remote staff to ensure increased productivity.
Below, you’ll find some of the best strategies you can employ to effectively motivate your remote workforce.
1. Understand Your Workers’ Needs
The first step toward keeping your remote teams motivated is understanding their individual needs. Working remotely can feel lonely, and employees can lose motivation working in isolation.
These, among other challenges of remote working, can lead to low performance and productivity. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the perspective of your remote workforce. Ask yourself “What things do remote workers care about the most?”
Remember, remote workers need to feel seen as individuals and their issues addressed. For example, if a remote worker is always failing to submit work within the deadline or has missed two or three meetings, you could try to hold a 1-on-1 session to find out what’s troubling them. Maybe they aren’t adapting well to the remote work environment, or certain personal issues are interfering with their work.
Try to identify what each team member’s needs are, that if fulfilled, will contribute to better work and increased productivity.
2. Foster a Growth Mindset
Employees working from home lack face-to-face interaction with coworkers and can feel uninspired. As a business leader, one way to motivate your remote teams is to keep them challenged.
Find out what new skills related to their work they can learn and encourage them to take on more challenging tasks to stretch their learning capabilities. Team members will feel motivated if offered personal and professional growth opportunities.
By encouraging and offering learning opportunities, you foster an environment that focuses on their potential rather than just performance. In addition, testing your remote employees’ limits provides them a learning experience and an opportunity to widen their skillset.
3. Offer Incentives
Happy employees are less likely to leave a company. Plus, they’ll be more engaged at work. A Glassdoor survey indicates that 81 percent of employees report they are motivated to work harder when their employer shows appreciation for their work. Compare this to only 38 percent who report they are motivated to work harder for fear of losing their job, and you can see the disparity.
Another report by Deloitte shows that employee engagement, productivity, and performance are 14 percent higher in organizations with recognition programs than those without.
Incentives can help bring remote teams together and increase employee retention. The best part about incentives is that they don’t have to be monetary.
Here are some fun incentive ideas to try with your remote team:
- Offer a wellness program to employees who achieve 5,000 steps a day. This can help boost morale, physical and mental health, as well as productivity of individuals.
- Offer digital rewards for desired behavior or performance.
- Use gift cards (virtual and physical) redeemable at stores of interest to them.
- Reward good work with extra time off to disconnect.
- Offer to pay a subscription to virtual learning to improve their skills.
4. Prioritize Communication
In a remote work setup, people are no longer bumping into each other in the kitchen, around the water cooler, or during lunch breaks. This can lead to a disconnection between team members, which can affect collaboration and performance.
Leaders must, therefore, find effective ways to keep team members connected.
Communication is key in maintaining workplace relationships and promoting better cohesion. It’s also essential in improving engagement, productivity, and trust.
The good news is that there are various online tools to help you keep communication alive. From video conferencing platforms like Teams and Zoom to messaging apps like Skype, organizations can implement synchronous and asynchronous working styles to ensure everyone is connected and kept in the loop.
Just be sure to be clear about which tools to use for formal and informal conversations between coworkers and management.
More importantly, create moments for casual facetime, where workers can just interact freely and talk about non-work-related stuff. For example, you could dedicate the first five minutes of the morning virtual meetings to discussing the weekend or current events.
Or you could organize weekly virtual lunches every Friday. This way, teams can connect on a personal level and discover what they have in common outside of work, which can help build rapport.
5. Ask and Provide Feedback Regularly
Here’s the thing. Employees, whether in-office or remote, want feedback. A culture of continuous feedback fosters growth and will motivate employees to be more involved and progressive in how they accomplish tasks.
Try holding one-on-one sessions with team members and offer insights into their performance. Alternatively, consider distributing a remote worker engagement survey to find out what challenges they are facing and things they might want to be improved.
Most importantly, when employees say what they want, try to honor their requests, or implement those changes.
6. Offer Opportunities for Learning
Employees will feel more valued and seen when offered learning opportunities for both their personal and career development. This, in turn, will motivate employees to put in more effort at work.
Remember, learning opportunities not only benefit your remote workers. They help your organization remain competitive in attracting and retaining top talent. Delivering learning programs that enhance your remote workers’ communication and collaboration skills can set your company up for success by boosting productivity.
In addition, using multiple delivery methods to provide training opportunities for your remote teams can further bolster employee engagement and retention efforts.
Keep in mind that 93 percent of employees would stay longer at their jobs if a company invests in their careers.
7. Adopt the Remote Company Culture
As a business leader, the remote culture can tremendously affect your employees’ engagement, motivation, and performance. An always-on culture can present challenges, such as striking the right work-life balance, managing remote workers, and ensuring their goals align with those of your company. You’ll also need to decide on the right technology to support and streamline remote work.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when creating a remote-first culture. You’ll need to experiment with different ideas and strategies before you find the sweet spot. To help you adopt a permanent remote-first policy, here are some guiding principles:
- Establish routines that foster the remote culture, such as flexible scheduling.
- Clearly define communication channels, the times when everyone needs to be available, and when it is acceptable for asynchronous communication.
- Build a culture of trust and transparency.
- Adjust management styles to focus on results rather than daily or hourly tasks.
- Incorporate cloud solutions so people can access information from any device, at any time.
- Establish clear performance review metrics to be reviewed weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
- Include remote employees in company wide events and culture.
- Optimize schedules for work-life harmony to prevent employee burnout and keep employees happy working at your organization.
Ultimately, the goal is to treat all members as essential members and provide them the tools they need to succeed in their roles.
8. Provide Your Team with the Right Tools
Working remotely heavily relies on technology. From project management tools to time tracking tools and communication tools, to good internet and productivity tools like calendars, note-taking apps, and focus apps, it’s essential to equip your remote teams with all the necessary tools.
Doing so empowers them to get the job done faster and correctly. In addition, teams won’t feel unmotivated for a lack of the right tools to do their jobs effectively. These tools are crucial to foster effective communication and collaboration, as well as improve time management for your employees.
All these tools combined foster your remote workforce motivation and eventual success.
9. Offer Guidance to Help Employees Manage Time
One aspect that has proven to be challenging with remote teams is time management. With no one to watch remote workers, they are more prone to procrastination, which can kill employee motivation and thus impact productivity.
Leaders can prevent this by guiding their remote teams on effective time management practices. Here are some tips to improve how remote employees manage their time:
- Provide time management training to teach employees various time management techniques, as well as planning and prioritizing.
- Set clear expectations and timelines to ensure accountability.
- Encourage employees to perform a time audit, where they write down their intentions and beliefs about how they spend their time. This is followed by actually tracking how they spent their time working. Once you get the data, hold 1-on-1s with each team member to discuss ways to better manage their time.
- Help team members plan and estimate their time better, especially when creating work schedules.
- Teach team members organizational skills to manage clutter in their workspace.
- Encourage them to create a daily planner. Lists help people become aware of pending tasks and can be instrumental in establishing a direction of what needs to be done.
- Help your remote employees establish routines and stick to them. Routines discourage procrastination and enable one to work through issues systematically.
- Introduce a time-tracking tool like Traqq to help team members monitor their time usage. Traqq is simple to use and works both online and offline. All you need to do is turn on the timer, and it will automatically log your work hours. It also captures your website and apps usage habits during work hours. This makes it easy to identify the sources of distractions and eliminate them. Moreover, the tool allows you to generate powerful reports that you can analyze to fully understand how you spend your time and what needs adjusting.
10. Use Survey Tools to Improve Motivation
Employee motivation surveys are a helpful tool to gauge your employees’ motivation levels and identify issues affecting job satisfaction. They are useful when seeking to discover in-depth information about your workers’ attitudes and perceptions about their work and the company.
Moreover, motivation surveys enable you to know what motivates your employees, or rather, what’s blocking their motivation. The insights put you in a better position to ensure happier teams and improved morale. In addition, you’ll be able to nail employee motivation strategies and drive better outcomes.
Once you gather the data, you can hold one-on-one discussions with team members based on the results of the survey tool. Encourage them to open up about what affects their motivation and what can be done to remedy the situation.
Fun Ways to Keep Your Employees Motivated
There’s a huge difference between a motivated team and an unmotivated team. Motivated employees:
- Are highly productive
- Have increased levels of engagement
- Produce higher quality work
- Stay at a company longer
- Are happy with high morale
Having said that, apart from the strategies we’ve discussed on how to motivate employees when working remotely, there are other awesome and fun ways to motivate employees. These include:
- Welcoming new hires with gifts. These could include company merchandise, sending them a lunch gift card or a box of chocolates, assigning them a guided virtual tour guide of the offices, and so on. Research by Brandon Hall Group published by Glassdoor found that “organizations that invest in candidate experience state that their quality of hires improved by over 70%.” The research also discovered that a strong onboarding process improves employee retention by up to 82 percent. How do you onboard new hires in a remote work environment?
- Engaging in team building and development sessions for the entire team. These training sessions could focus on developing soft skills, teamwork, or technical skills.
- Implement the ‘Employee of the Month’ program. The program shows appreciation for employees who have made significant contributions to the team and encourages healthier competition among coworkers. Consider using a reward system where the employee of the month receives bonus pay, a gift hamper, or a fully paid vacation.
- Surprise your remote staff with virtual birthday parties.
- Surprise team members with experiential rewards like a river rafting adventure, in-home personal masseur, or skydiving adventure. You can partner with a company like Blueboard that offers fun options to reward employees outside the office.
- Send employees “Thank you” notes or emails and acknowledge them publicly on forums like Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Set up a point system for your reward program that employees can use for tangible things like travel, gift cards, appliances, etc.
- Organize a “theme day”, like a pajama day, mismatch day, or crazy hat day. Make it fun by holding video calls to show off the outfits!
How to Deal with Lack of Motivation When Working Remotely
Working from home can be tough. It feels strange for those just starting out. While one gets used to this work model over time, it’s still a constant battle of fighting distractions, staying focused, and dealing with a lack of motivation.
Some of the reasons that affect remote employees’ motivation include:
- A lack of boundaries
- Compromised work-life balance
- Inadequate tools and services
- Employee burnout
- Lack of socializing
So, what are the best ways to deal with a lack of motivation while working from home?
Work from a dedicated space
A living room couch, dining table, or bed is not suitable for working comfortably. You’re more likely to get tired and distracted, which will impact your motivation. Establishing a work-from-home office or workspace that’s solely devoted to working and nothing else can help improve focus and motivation.
Stay clear of distractions
You most likely share your physical environment with your partner, family member, kids, or pets. You also have access to the TV and fridge, not to mention dealing with noisy neighbors. All these distractions can prevent you from fully focusing on your work.
Try to eliminate those distractions as much as possible. Get noise-canceling headphones to mute the background sounds so you can concentrate on work. Where possible, separate your home office from other areas of the house. Alternatively, sign up to join a local coworking space.
As for your digital devices, mute phone notifications and keep them out of sight. In addition, turn off email notifications on your computer to allow for undivided attention.
Create a schedule
Structuring your workday ensures you don’t get off track or distracted while working. A schedule helps you accomplish tasks in order of priority and work on them faster. Try to establish a time to start and end work and stick to it.
Implement time blocking
Blocking out small amounts of time to work on tasks makes bigger projects manageable. You’ll feel motivated knowing that you just need to complete one more task in the next 20 minutes rather than knowing you have a huge list of tasks waiting to be completed by lunchtime.
Use the 10-minute rule to fight procrastination
Procrastination is not only a productivity killer. It’s also a motivation killer. Whether you’re feeling bored at work, uninspired to work, or dealing with a challenging task, apply the 10-minute rule.
Tell yourself that you only have to work on the task for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes have elapsed, you can take a break or keep working. Oftentimes, you’ll find that at the 10-minute mark, you’re more likely to choose to keep going.
The trick is how to get started. But once you do, you’ll build momentum and keep going, eventually finishing work that could otherwise be left pending.
A little incentive can go a long way in motivating you to get work done. Whether it’s having a cup of coffee with your best friend, watching your favorite TV show, or going out for a movie night, the thought of a reward waiting for us at the end is enough to push us to accomplish goals.
Check-in with coworkers and friends
Working from home can feel lonely and isolating. However, when you organize to chat with colleagues/friends regularly about work and personal stuff, it becomes less lonely. You’ll feel more connected to your workmates and friends, which can help keep you motivated.
Take breaks throughout your workday
Breaks have scientifically been proven to boost productivity. According to the American Psychological Association, people who take breaks are more resilient when workplace stressors arise. They also found that employees “who took more microbreaks to relax, socialize or engage in cognitive activities had an increased positive affect at work.”
Therefore, apart from the mandatory lunch break, be sure to take breaks throughout your workday. You’ll feel rejuvenated when you return to your desk to tackle the next tasks.
Psychologists suggest that humans have only one main role in life – to take care of themselves. When you take care of yourself, your mind, body, and brain will function optimally, and you’ll perform at your peak.
On the contrary, when running on caffeine and sugar is your default mode of operation, you’ll never be at your best. In fact, your physical, social, and emotional needs will suffer. So, take a step back, review your lifestyle, and make changes that embrace self-care.
Eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, stay hydrated, and go out. Never allow work to interfere with your well-being efforts.
Remote employees struggle with self-discipline, self-care, and consistent workflows. Leaders and managers can offer their employees guidance on motivation techniques that ensure they feel valued and part of the company.
In addition, make it a routine to ask for and provide feedback to understand the experiences of your remote workers. More importantly, offer guidance and support on time management, as this can derail an employee’s productivity efforts.
The right strategies will help your remote workforce build healthier and more productive work habits.