Most leaders are well past the first hurdles of moving their teams to a remote working environment. By now, most remote teams and their members have set up their tools, defined their processes, and stuck Zoom to their Docks and taskbars.
However, these were just the first steps towards creating an effective and efficient work environment for home-based remote teams. The next challenge that must be addressed is that of motivating your team and keeping them motivated as they work from home amid all the madness of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But how exactly do you keep remote teams motivated and on task when they’re sat in their pyjamas and surrounded by all distractions of the home?
Tips for Keeping Remote Teams Motivated
This question is important because of the nature of a crisis: It tests everyone. It tests you as a leader, it tests your team, and it tests your company’s culture.
So, in a season (or four…) of enormous and unprecedented disruption and distraction, here’s how you can navigate the bumps in the road and keep everyone motivated and on track, and also build trust at the same time.
Create a Sense of Belonging
When working outside of the office environment for a prolonged period of time, some employees can start to feel detached from their teams and the company itself. This can cause productivity and motivation to slip, which is no good for the employee nor the company.
To that end, communication is one of the most vital “tools” in your arsenal as a leader; it’s the key to keeping people on track. The more you communicate with your team (and the more they communicate with one another), the easier it is for people to cope. Group chats, virtual check-ins, casual conversation over Slack, and scheduled social events all have their part to play in showing empathy to your team and confirming their value.
In addition to simply communicating, why not make an effort to solicit ideas and provide guidance? Ask your team for their thoughts and suggestions before making a major decision or before kicking off a new project. This way, you’ll reinforce your trust of and commitment to them—and you’re likely to hear new ideas you would have never even have considered. In terms of providing guidance, demonstrate your leadership by creating resources to help employees juggle their responsibilities at home, cope with isolation, and use your new tools.
Prioritize and Facilitate Collaboration
It’s never been more important for your team to work together and collaborate. When you’re all out of the office, however, this can be more challenging.
As a team leader, you should be looking to use any tools that you’ve got to get people working together to solve problems. Use your tools to spread collaboration and collaborative efforts to mitigate the isolation that comes with home-based working. If you don’t have any tools, there are plenty out there that can be integrated with the organization and your existing processes and workflows.
For example, marketing teams can use tools like Trello to organize blog post ideas and development teams can use it to highlight known bugs, whereas social media managers can use a full-featured social media management app like Wrike. Organization-wide, tools like Dropbox help to distribute important files while org chart tools like Organimi help to onboard new remote starters.
Even with a full suite of tools at the hands of your team, not everything will go perfectly and according to plan. So, be sure to solicit feedback to show that you’re willing to listen and make necessary changes—people who know they are being listened to are more likely to collaborate and work together.
Recognize Good Work
Even during a crisis, people are capable of achieving truly astonishing things in their work, and this should never go unrecognized. As a team leader, you should be taking extra steps to recognize and reward employees for going the extra mile in their work for the benefit of both the customer and their colleagues.
Don’t just recognize people privately, either. Show your superstar team members that their work is meaningful by publicly sharing success stories and the great outcomes achieved with it. We’ve seen several examples of this on social media, and British supermarket Asda (owned by Walmart) is a fantastic one.
Asda regularly publishes posts like this, highlighting the people who go above and beyond in their work and demonstrate the brand’s core values.
Relinquish Some Control
Out of the office, the amount of control you can exercise over your team is a little more limited. After all, our world has been turned on its head and it’s impossible to be in complete control of everything your team does when you’re all working remotely. While many managers and supervisors will fret at the thought, true leaders will see this as an opportunity to give their team members more freedom and authority to make their own decisions.
We’re not suggesting that you give your team members complete free reign to do as they see fit. Rather, we’re suggesting that you give them as much direction and instruction as your schedule and the circumstances of remote working allow, take any questions that they may have, and then leave them to get on with their jobs.
This shows your team members that you trust them. And during times like these, trust goes a very long way and will enable you to not only weather the crisis but come out on top when it subsides.