Nowadays, more and more employees are working from home. Whether out of a need for flexibility or lack of a physical office space, working remotely is rising in popularity. There are many benefits to abandoning the typical office environment and having the ability to work from home.
However, there can be some significant drawbacks to working remotely. From a lack of personal interaction to a decrease in communication, remote employees can start to feel isolated. Not interacting as a team can create poor morale and collaboration. It’s also hard to develop a culture of wellness and work-life balance when you only have to walk a few feet to your office.
So, as a leader, how do you keep your remote team motivated? How can you keep your employees engaged with you and with each other? Luckily, technology can provide you with some great tools to boost interaction and performance. You can create a strong online office environment that makes employees happy and more motivated.
1. Avoid Isolation with Virtual Meetings
One of the most effective ways to boost engagement is to increase communication. Routine conference calls can keep everyone on the same page. Virtual meetings are a great tool to enhance conversations. Connecting regularly with others can prevent the feeling of isolation. Omnichannel technology can be used to more fluidly communicate between different platforms.
As with any meeting, conference calls should be meaningful and organized. Keep everyone and the conversation on track with a detailed agenda. Make sure the call has a specific purpose, whether it be to discuss a project or evaluate an employee’s performance. Be clear that you don’t want to waste everyone’s valuable time.
Virtual video meetings are a unique opportunity for face-to-face contact from remote locations. By video conferencing, you can build stronger relationships with employees from afar. You’ll have that added benefit or reading facial expressions and body language to communicate more clearly.
Remote employees can become isolated leading to a lack of motivation. These communication tools can increase productivity and create a much-needed connection. It can also help remote workers better maintain their mental health.
Make sure employees are engaging not only with you but with each other. It’s important to help facilitate teamwork, especially in a virtual work environment. Check-in with all of the members of a working group to get their take on how working together is going. Let employees know that you’re there to help them without micromanaging their day to day tasks.
2. Boost Morale with Online Gatherings
One of the benefits of working in an office is the opportunity to make personal connections. Many people rely on their co-workers for social engagement and friendship. Provide these same benefits to your remote workforce with online gatherings. These light-hearted events are enjoyable and provide a good mood boost, especially after a long week.
Without feeling the physical presence of being a team, morale can quickly decrease. Having non-work related experiences together makes coworkers feel more connected, even if they are virtual. These personal connections can lead to better teamwork and more seamless cooperation in the workplace.
Look for unique ways to bring your team together online. You can host a virtual game event where team members can participate in a little friendly competition. Everything from team board games to traditional bar games can be played online. You’ll be surprised how quickly participants forget that the event is virtual and truly get into playing together.
Group challenges can be tricky to facilitate online but with a little creativity are totally doable. Create a crafting challenge where each team member makes a part of the same project and everyone votes on a winner. Have a video contest where teams of remote workers splice a compilation video together from afar and choose the most creative.
Trivia nights and happy hours are often a great way to connect, even virtually. Set a day of the week and enjoy a game of online trivia together. Have everyone enjoy their favorite beverage during a Friday evening cocktail hour.
These fun events are a perfect way to let loose to boost morale. Getting to know each other personally helps remote workers collaborate better. It also motivates employees to work harder for the collective benefit of the business.
3. Provide Encouragement and Positive Reinforcement
It’s easy for remote employees to start to feel discouraged. They don’t have the same opportunities for regular feedback as those in an office environment. Make sure you are proactively providing encouragement and positive reinforcement. Be proactive in helping them achieve goals and grow their career.
Having regular one on one meetings with remote employees is helpful. This is a great opportunity for the positive feedback. It gives you the chance to let them know what areas they are excelling in. Include specific examples of their quality of work so they know you are paying attention.
Remote employees can often feel detached. Make sure to encourage them to keep focusing on their career goals. Provide opportunities for growth and actively help them develop more skills and deeper knowledge. This will motivate them to improve and prevent them from feeling stuck and frustrated.
Rewards and bonuses are a common motivational tool. Treating an employee to lunch or coffee is a great way to let them know they are appreciated. Working remotely eliminates this spontaneous reward, but there are still ways to accomplish the same effect virtually.
Did your remote employee work particularly hard this week? Were you super impressed with their stellar presentation? Send them an emailed gift card for coffee on you to thank them for their effort. Have a gift basket delivered to their house to show your appreciation of a job well done.
4. Collaborate on the Cloud
Keeping your team of remote workers on the same page is essential. It’s important to create a virtual meeting room for centralized communication and collaboration. Using a cloud-based service can help ensure everyone can check-in and access information.
A good cloud-based tool will make your workplace run more efficiently. It will provide multiple ways to effectively communicate as well as to facilitate meetings. This can also give you the means to work on projects and share information safely and securely.
Being able to work on a quality cloud-based collaboration tool makes the online workplace more seamless. It makes communication more effective and sharing information simplified. It’s one of the best ways to simulate an in-office work environment for your team.
Cloud collaboration also gives your employees the ability to work from nearly anywhere. A change in scenery can be motivating. Encourage employees to take advantage of this unique perk and work from their local coffee shop or cafe. They can even take their work outside to enjoy a beautiful day.
5. Assist with Time Management
Many remote workers struggle with prioritizing tasks and time-management skills. They have to learn strategies to avoid distractions and keep themselves on a schedule. Offer to help your employees create a time management plan, especially if they are new to working from home. Make sure they are being reasonable about the amount of time they plan to be logged in daily.
Different types of schedules work best for different workers and personality types. Some people do the best working just a few hours at a time throughout the day while others are more suited to the traditional workday hours. If possible, be flexible about what time of day your workers get their work accomplished.
Guide your individual team members in creating a schedule that is most fitted to their work style. They will likely be more successful in sticking to it without feeling overwhelmed. Let teams drive the schedule of their meetings as long as they are all in agreement.
Some employees feel better breaking the day into chunks and working on specific tasks during that time. Others need to make a to-do list and complete each project before moving to the next. Each individual team member can find what works best for them and adjust as they evolve as a remote worker.
Many remote workers struggle with prioritizing. Be clear about what tasks are most essential so they know where to focus their immediate energy. Provide clear due dates and deadlines. For larger projects, benchmarks are helpful to keep moving at the desired pace.
If you have employees in various time zones, be mindful of how meetings are scheduled. The same workers shouldn’t have to attend evening work calls or get up early every time for a weekly video conferencing update. Rotate when these events are scheduled so they aren’t affecting employees in the same time zone every time.
6. Encourage Balance to Avoid Burnout
Time completely away from the office is essential, even if you’re working from a virtual office. Remote workers often have a hard time pulling away from their work. Without a physical office to detach from, they can tend to blend work and home life. Encourage your employees to create a balance between the two.
Check-in with your workers to make sure they are taking breaks throughout the day. Employees that work hours straight can lose concentration and focus. Try to space out the scheduling of meetings and conference calls, especially if the same employees are constantly involved.
Help employees break away from their work and focus on friends and family. Consider implementing quiet communication hours where no emails can be sent or phone calls can be made. If possible, discourage non-working weekends so employees can return Monday refreshed from their time off.
A lack of work-life balance can quickly lead to employee burnout. Having a life away from work and taking time away can increase productivity during working hours. Fostering this balance can lead to happier, more efficient, employees.
7. Focus on Wellness
It’s easy for remote workers to push physical activity and exercise to the back burner. As a leader, you can create a strong culture of wellness. This will benefit everyone’s physical health and make your workforce more efficient.
A wellness program can be easy to run remotely. Create step challenges and encourage walking conference calls. Provide a list of activity options and reward employees that participate. Keeping employees physically active, even when they are at home, can make them healthier and more alert throughout the day.
Consider providing the means for remote employees to be less sedentary. Offer a discounted standing desk or free pedometers. Look into providing a discount on a gym membership at their local gym.
It’s also important to encourage healthy eating habits. Share easily to make recipes and nutritious lunch ideas. You can even host a virtual potluck where all of your employees share their favorite healthy recipes.
Healthier employees tend to be more productive employees. They are often more efficient and miss less work due to illness. By encouraging wellness, you boost both morale and work ethic.
8. Show You Care
Remote employees can feel a disconnection without the face to face contact that an office provides. Online interactions can feel sterile, leading to workers feeling that you are nothing to them but an employee. Make an effort to show that you care about them personally and value their unique contributions.
Reaching out to simply check-in with your remote workers can go a long way. Schedule time to virtually meet and try to discuss non-work related subjects like their families and hobbies. Let them know that even though they work remotely, you still want to get to know them.
Make it a point to let employees know that their mental health is important to you as a leader. Are they happy with their job and how things are going? Does working remotely make them feel stressed and deserted? Let them know that you want to find ways to make the best of the situation and that their ideas for improving their remote work-life are welcomed.
Getting over the unforeseen hurdles of working from home can be a struggle. Encouraging and guiding employees over them will make them more successful. You can provide them with the feedback they need to create good work habits.
Leading a strong remote team is possible with the right tools and a little effort. You can create a feeling of team-building and cooperation. By fostering a culture of balance and wellness, you will have happier, more productive remote employees.