How to Motivate Your Remote Employees? (7 Tips from 17 Experts)
While remote working comes with a lot of perks, it has certain limitations too. Managing and motivating remote employees can prove to be quite a task. One of the most pivotal factors to keep the remote workers motivated is the company culture. When it comes to types of employees, permanent employees are more likely to stay motivated in the remote work setup. An important tip to keep employees motivated is to avoid micromanaging the employees as it shows a lack of trust. For instance, instead of making time tracking software compulsory, just attendance tracking software can be enough.
Remote working has become the need of the hour and has completely altered the way people work. While a lot of remote collaboration technology has made it easy for employees to manage work, it is not necessary that these tools can compensate for the lack of human interaction too. Initially, work from home lured a lot of employees but its luster soon faded. Then emerged the challenges.
One of the major ones being the ability to stay motivated. It may be difficult to maintain their motivation but it’s certainly not impossible. All the HR professionals/team leaders need to do is to understand the individual motivating factors for every employee. Recognizing the efforts of an employee will surely do the work but there could be employees who need more than just acknowledgment.
GoodFirms surveyed 310 company executives and managers from different parts of the world to understand ways to keep remote employees motivated.
Company Culture Plays a Crucial Role in Keeping Remote Workers Motivated
Remote working has its perks, but it comes with its own set of challenges too. Remote workers get to choose their comfortable place of work. However, there are also chances that they may not feel motivated enough due to lack of the usual office setup, and regular connection with their fellow employees. According to a whopping 61.94% of company executives, the right company culture can play a crucial role in keeping the remote workers motivated.
The right company culture means an environment that encourages employees to grow. At the same time, it gives them a little flexibility keeping in mind the current scenario.
To set up a positive work environment, employers can adopt multiple strategies. For instance, it can be as simple as conducting regular check-ins with employees, when they get to present their opinion on multiple things. Also, many remote working teams get together virtually for either discussing things other than work with a cup of coffee or for a team bonding session. Either way, when the employees feel valued and heard, they are going to stay motivated.
Other than the company culture, two other factors that play an important role in ensuring remote workers’ motivation are growth mindset and technology. Technology because organizations are using multiple virtual collaboration tools to keep the communication and work going smoothly. A growth mindset is when an organization offers opportunities to its employees to learn and grow. Team leaders and top management are the people who can establish such a mindset.
Permanent Employees are More Likely to Stay Motivated
Permanent employees have some sort of attachment to their workplace. They have been a part of the organization for a while, formed relations with their coworkers, and learned to work in a team. As a result, 48.39% of managers feel that permanent employees are more likely to stay motivated than others.
Another reason could be that permanent employees are the ones who directly get to enjoy the perks that the organization is offering. They are the ones who are involved in the company culture and contribute to the company’s growth.
Initially, permanent employees may face difficulties setting up their workspace remotely as they are used to an office environment. However, once they are completely settled, and their routine is set, no other type of employee will be as motivated as a permanent employee.
Tips to Keep Remote Employees Motivated
The concept of remote working existed even before the pandemic but right now the uncertainty of how long it will last has affected the employees' overall performance. To keep the work going seamlessly and at the same time keep the remote employees motivated, the following tips will help.
1. Acknowledge their Efforts
A little acknowledgment can go a long way in motivating employees. Recognizing the efforts of an employee can be done in innumerable ways, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge gesture. Something as small as saying ‘kudos’ in team meetings or highlighting their accomplishments in office groups can go a long way in motivating remote employees.
Lianne Sanders, a Content Editor & Licensed Yoga Instructor at Total Shape, says that stating the achievements even once can work wonders. In Lianne’s words, “I'd say that the best way to keep a remote employee motivated is by complimenting them and acknowledging their efforts verbally. You need not repeat it over and over, but acknowledging them in a meeting or when in a crowd heightens the excitement and joy for that certain employee.”
Acknowledging the efforts of an employee, or a team, is not only beneficial for the employee/employees in question, but it also acts as an inspiration for the others in the group.
The Head of Marketing at Colorescience, Sanem Ahearn, says, “Recognizing your employees’ achievements can be one of the simplest ways to motivate workers to go that extra mile. By making workers’ accomplishments, big and small, visible to other employees, it can motivate the rest of the team to do the same.”
Every organization will acknowledge and reward employees. Dr. Pooneh Ramezani from Dr.Brite LLC mentions what they are doing to reward their employees.
She says, “To keep our employees engaged and motivated, we believe in recognizing the results of our team members by giving them random gifts for their accomplishments. For example, one of our team members hit some amazing results with our email marketing, and we got her an Apple Watch. We are always coming up with new ways to celebrate all of our employees' accomplishments and finding new ways to reward them”.
Again, it’s not feasible for every organization to give some exquisite rewards to their employees. All that matters is a reward - small or big. So, organizations can offer rewards on the basis of their affordability.
2. Keep in Constant Touch
In businesses and relationships alike, communication is the key. Remote employees have equal rights to be involved with the decision making process. Keeping employees in the loop is a reminder that they are part of a larger organization. Now, the communication need not be only about work-related matters, but anything that makes remote employees feel connected to the rest of the team.
The CEO of Veritas Homebuyers, Richard Latimer, believes in establishing communication channels to keep the team connected. He says, “I like to motivate the team by keeping communication flowing and setting an example of how we should communicate. Sometimes this requires me to ‘over-communicate.’ This results in the employees having the freedom to freely communicate with their peers, all in the spirit of improving together as a team.”
The means of communication can be different for different organizations. Some managers may choose to create informal communication channels on apps like Slack, while others may want to have one-to-one communication with their employees.
A Chief Information Officer at Outgrow.co, Dr. Saksham Sharda, mentions the method adopted in their organization to keep the communication going. He said, “The key to a happy remote working environment is connectivity, communication, and engagement. We make sure that our employees feel involved at all times. And, we use interactive content like contests, forms, and surveys to make our team feel involved in the decision making process.”
Clear communication channels within an organization will not make the employees feel heard but will also help the managers. Stefan Ateljevic, a Founder, explains how proper communication enables managers to make better decisions.
“By promoting good communication company-wide, managers can better understand their employees' talents and skills and create plans and goals to manage tasks more effectively. Furthermore, good communication increases employee retention and happiness since it nurtures a strong team that works toward a common goal,” says the Founder of AhoyGaming.
There is no set way or decided frequency of calls to ensure proper communication among the team members. But according to a GoodFirms survey, a consensus view is for at least once a week.
The Founder & CEO of Palma Violet Loans, Anton Konopliov, mentions what works for their team and also the consequences of not effectively communicating with the team. Anton said, “Connecting with my staff on a regular basis, about once or twice a week through phone calls and one-on-one video calls, is important and prevents them from feeling that they are left out of the loop or worse, out on a limb feeling abandoned and unmotivated.”
Having said that, it is also important to keep in mind that poor communications will have a direct impact on employee engagement level and make them feel removed from crucial decisions. Hence, it is important, especially in the current scenario, that management is proactive in keeping in touch with employees.
3. Offer Incentives
Any incentive - monetary or non-monetary - is enough to motivate employees. It is a way of showing employees that their efforts during such times are not only recognized but also rewarded. There is no doubt that monetary incentives can be a huge motivating factor. But in many cases, non-monetary incentives can prove to be quite encouraging too.
Charlie Worrall speaks in favor of offering incentives to employees and how it ultimately results in enhanced employee motivation and benefit of the organization. “I find that the best way to keep remote teams motivated is to incentivize and support them. Implementing things like bonus schemes or simple rewards for people doing great work is important. By offering a bonus or a reward, they're less likely to feel under-appreciated, and if these are performance-based, it may give them a push to find new innovations for the business.” Charlie is a Digital Marketing Executive at Imaginaire Digital.
For Kent Lewis, the President & Founder of Anvil, monetary incentives are a better option to encourage employees to do better. He said, “I believe money talks, certainly more than a compliment at a staff meeting. For the employees who have completely elevated their game during times of crisis or economic hardship, I feel it’s important to recognize and reward with increased financial compensation.”
4. Emphasize the Value of their Work
Employees need to have a sense of purpose in what they are doing to feel their growth. When remote workers start feeling like just another part of the whole system, they are slowly losing motivation to work. To ensure this doesn’t happen, the top management or team managers can play a critical role.
Here, it is necessary to remind remote workers that they are part of a team and all of them are working together to achieve a common goal.
The Owner of Diamond Mansion, Omid Semino, emphasized the importance of reminding employees of their role in the organization. “ Nothing is more motivating than feeling like your work means something to someone, or that your work is impactful and important. Remind your employees of that every day. Share client stories with your team constantly— remind them of why they’re there,” said Omid.
Paul French of Intrinsic Search explains the causes of remote workers feeling demotivated as well as offers solutions too for helping them remember their role in the organization.
He says, “Remote workers tend to face unique challenges such as feelings of isolation and the pressures of balancing domestic chores and work responsibilities. It is important for these workers to feel that they are doing meaningful work and that their contribution has a significant impact. This can only happen if they are empowered to make decisions, move processes forward, solve important problems, and experiment with solutions.”
Barry Moline, the author of ‘Connect!’ and a corporate speaker, is of the opinion that there’s a possibility of employees forgetting why they are doing something in the first place.
So, according to Barry, “The best way to keep employees motivated is by engaging with their manager about the work they are doing and how it benefits the organization and/or society. It's easy to lose sight of our why, and being reminded of our big goals is a big motivator. Most people want to make the world a better place; hearing from the boss how day-to-day tasks are tied into that big goal gets people eager to get the job done.”
5. Trust the Team
Making the employees feel like they are trusted can go a long way in boosting their motivation. At some point, the duties have already been assigned to the employees. The best way to show that the employees are trusted is to not micromanage after assigning the tasks. Also, it is essential to form a bond with them that goes beyond the deadlines.
STEM Toy Expert’s Owner & Chief Editor, Mark Coster states the disadvantages of time tracking software that the organizations are using in remote working. Mark said, “I advise against using time tracking software. It often ends up dehumanizing the employees, reducing them to the number of clicks, screenshots, minutes, and seconds that they clock in. It’s vital to have trust and confidence in your employees, even (and I would say, especially) when you can’t see them face to face.”
When the team leads or top management constantly challenge the decisions taken by their employees, it is a clear indication that they don’t trust their capabilities. On the other hand, when the employees are allowed to work with some flexibility and held accountable for their actions, the ultimate outcome will be a higher level of job satisfaction and collaboration within the team.
Jeff Walker from Best VPN Canada gives a simple way to foster trust in the organization overall. The Founder says, “Creating a culture of trust is one surefire way not only in keeping your employees motivated but in boosting their morale and productivity as well. On a regular basis, you need to bring your remote workers together. And by simply looping them in on company meetings and special events, you’re already fostering your most aimed culture of trust.”
6. Focus on Results Rather than Hours
There is a reason for remote working being so popular among the employees. The reason is the flexibility it offers to work. The flexibility can be in terms of deadlines, location, work, or even working hours. Here, if the organizations take away the flexibility factor from remote working, it is bound to have some negative impact on their productivity and motivation.
Alex Thompson, Director of Festoon House gives a valid reason for giving some sort of flexibility and instead advises to give priority to the end result achieved.
In his words, “The best strategy that worked for us so far is this - loosen up. Working remotely can be stressful on so many levels, so it's important to avoid micromanaging your employees so much. Yes, it's important to have a system to keep things organized, but focus on the deliverables rather than the hours put in by your employees. As long as there are clear expectations and the deadlines are met, you're good.”
While micromanaging or monitoring every small detail of employees, many organizations forget the ill effects of doing so. The Co-Founder of Shopper.com, Sonu Bubna highlights one of the most significant drawbacks for an organization if it tends to be rigid with its employees.
Sonu says, “To have a motivated remote working team, avoid the temptation to get the work done with strict policies, processes, and rules. Although some sort of guidance and boundaries help people in staying focused, too many wills, perhaps demotivate the team in the short to mid-term. As a result, the demotivated staff just do what’s needed and keep their job instead of being creative and walking an extra mile to solve the problems.”
If the flexibility of working hours is taken into consideration, then again the priority should be the final outcome. It shouldn’t matter if an employee prefers a day shift or a night shift. Either way, an organization will be able to tap into their peak productive hours and get the desired results.
Therefore, some sort of flexibility, keeping in mind the current situation, can go a long way in keeping the remote workers motivated.
7. Identify the Individual Motivating Factors & Act Accordingly
No two people are the same. So, it is inevitable that their motivational factors will be different too. The general ways to motivate remote employees are good enough but identifying their individual needs can prove to be a more effective way. Team managers or top management can identify what works for each individual by communicating with them on a regular basis. Hence, a general rule of thumb is to identify what matters to each individual in the organization.
Laura Spawn, the CEO & Co-founder of Virtual Vocations gives examples of different motivating factors for employees. In her opinion, “Knowing what your employees value most is the key to keeping them motivated in their positions within the company. Some employees value recognition and public appreciation, while others appreciate more quiet praise, opportunities for growth, or even continuing education.”
The modern workplace is changing and so is the role of top management. Teams scattered across different locations is the ‘new normal’. Managing and motivating the remote workforce requires the same efforts as a traditional team. Only the methods to motivate employees will differ. Moreover, motivating remote employees becomes a little more challenging here as there is no physical interaction.
Apart from the usual methods to motivate remote employees, managers can also come up with innovative ideas to keep the team engaged. Communicate those ideas with the team and gather feedback. All in all, nothing will motivate remote workers more than feeling heard and valued.
About The Remote Workers Motivation Survey
GoodFirms surveyed 310 executives and managers to get insights into keeping the remote workers motivated.
We sincerely thank our Research Partners for their valuable contributions to the research.
Executives at all levels of the hierarchy in an organization participated in the survey. The participants include CEOs (25.2%), Founders (18.1%), HR Managers (12.3%), Co-founders (11.6%), Marketing Managers (11.0%), and Other Executives (21.9%).
The surveyed respondents belong to different sizes of companies - 38.7% of Small businesses (1-49 employees), 53.2% of Medium scale businesses (50-249 employees), and 8.1% of Large scale companies (250+ employees).
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