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Innovative Approaches to Motivating a Remote Team

Working from home is increasingly becoming the norm for many employees as technology evolves, and the workforce is more mobile. In the past, a remote employee was usually an exception, but now with the rise of the gig economy and technology, remote work has become more commonplace. According to a study by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, between 2005 and 2017, remote work increased by 159%. Thanks to technological advancements, we can work from anywhere, and as more companies adopt remote work policies, the trend seems likely to continue.

However, while working remotely has many advantages, including decreased commute times, the ability to work in your pajamas, and generally feeling happier with work, it also presents challenges. Remote workers may feel isolated from traditional office culture, have difficulty communicating with their managers and colleagues, or must deal with distractions such as children or pets. If the remote employee is not motivated, it can lead to lower productivity levels, decreased job satisfaction, and employee turnover.

To overcome these challenges, here are innovative approaches to motivating a remote team:

Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Remote workers need to know what is expected of them, and what goals they are working towards. This provides them with a sense of direction and purpose. Employers should communicate precise expectations and goals, using language that’s clear and avoids ambiguity. Employees need to know what they need to accomplish, and what tasks they should prioritize. It’s also critical to establish metrics for measuring progress and ensure that employees are aware of them. This approach enables the employee to judge their own performance, gain self-evaluation skills, and keep track of personal development. Communication is key to ensure that you’re providing and receiving feedback regularly and aligning with expectations.

Encourage Independent Thinking and Creativity

Remote employees should be given the freedom to work creatively and independently within the constraints of their job descriptions. This means that businesses should be open to new ideas, suggestions and growth opportunities. Encourage workers to voice their opinions, brainstorm and share their ideas with the team. Managers should welcome questions or disagreements to foster a culture of innovation, which can ultimately lead to increased productivity. Employers need to assure remote workers that they have a stake in the company and its future, and that their ideas and insights are valued.

Provide Regular Feedback and Recognition

When working remotely, employees may feel disconnected from their colleagues and the work environment. Business leaders need to provide regular feedback to employees to ensure they are on track and to identify areas for improvement. Additionally, it’s essential to recognize and praise employees for their hard work and accomplishments. This can be achieved through virtual awards, recognition on company platforms, or other forms of digital appreciation. Employees must receive recognition for their hard work and contributions, even when it is not always possible to meet in-person.

Foster Communication and Collaboration

Communication is essential when working remotely. Employers should provide frequent opportunities for communication, from team meetings to virtual coffees or virtual happy hours. These meetings can help maintain the team’s sense of connectedness and collaboration. Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet can be particularly helpful for remote teams to stay in touch and maintain a human connection. Managers should also be available for one-on-one check-ins to ensure the individual’s wellbeing and professional development.

Encourage Employee Growth and Development

Remote team members should be given opportunities to develop their skills and advance their careers. This can include professional development training sessions, online courses, or access to e-learning resources. This not only improves job satisfaction but can provide a boost of energy and excitement to employees who feel they’re learning and growing professionally. Managers can schedule quarterly or semi-annual assessments with their employees to review their progress, identify new opportunities for growth, and develop personal and professional development plans.

Promote Work-Life Balance

One of the most significant advantages of remote work is the ability to achieve a better work-life balance. Employers should encourage their remote team members to take breaks and set clear boundaries between work and personal time. This can help employees stay motivated, refreshed and reduce the risk of burnout. Managers can encourage remote workers to adopt healthy routine habits like moderate exercise, meditation, yoga, or reading an inspiring book during break times, to increase the team’s mental and emotional health.

Use Technology Tools to Make Work Easier

Technology tools can make remote work much more efficient and less stressful. Utilize project management software, to-do lists, and calendar reminders to help team members manage their time and stay on track. Other digital tools such as shared drive cloud storage, messaging apps, and other virtual collaboration solutions can also simplify working remotely. Technology enables managers to track progress, update tools and provide online training resources for remote working teams. More than arming employees with productivity software, remote tools such as virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, or Google can help team members keep to task, make phone calls or attend schedules, FAQs, and general requests without the need for direct contact.

Create Opportunities for Social Interaction

Remote work can feel isolating at times, which can hurt morale and motivation. Planning virtual team building or social events can help to maintain a sense of social connection among remote workers. This can lift moods, create opportunities for bonding outside of work hours, and create a more positive and engaging work environment. Some examples of virtual team-building activities include online escape games, online quizzes, or virtual happy hours.

Final Thoughts

The rise of remote work has transformed the workforce and how we work today. While it offers many advantages, it also presents unique challenges, especially with regard to motivating remote teams. Business leaders need to adopt innovative approaches to create a supportive, inclusive and productive work environment. They must foster collaboration, leverage technology, and create opportunities for social interaction as well. Providing clear goals, regular feedback and recognition, encouraging independent thinking and creativity, promoting employee growth and development, promoting work-life balance, and using technology tools to make work easier can create a culture of motivation and engagement among remote workers.

In the end, establishing an environment that places emphasis on employee well-being, work-life balance, and professional growth can lead to higher job satisfaction, increased productivity, and employee retention. By keeping these approaches in mind, and by consistently communicating with and supporting their remote teams, businesses can create a vibrant and highly-motivated remote workforce, which ultimately benefits the company as a whole.

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