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We’re over two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, and it seems that society has returned to some semblance of normal. It is a new normal, certainly, but at least we are no longer scrambling to buy up rolls of toilet paper or fashioning make-shift masks out of T-shirts.
But while our social calendars once again consist of in-person meet-ups, concerts and restaurant outings, for many of us, our professional lives remain online. For some, this is out of necessity — offices are closed or operating on hybrid in-person and remote schedules; however, an overwhelming majority of the workforce is choosing to work from home.
Remote work offers a host of benefits to employees and their organizations, from a better work-life balance to increased productivity outputs. As I’ve learned over the years, though, motivating a remote team is imperative to reaping these benefits and avoiding driving your employees to burnout. These are three simple ways that I’ve been able to motivate my remote workforce.
1. Communicate efficiently
With fewer opportunities for face-to-face interactions throughout the day, there are more opportunities for important messages to get lost in translation. This is why improving communication within and across teams is vital to ensure optimal work performance.
Try adopting collaborative platforms like Slack, Teams or Monday.com to simplify and streamline your internal messaging. Each team can have its own channel, which allows for communication about collective deadlines. Individuals can identify potential collaborators or ask for advice, and each colleague will have some knowledge of what projects have been assigned to whom. Direct messaging functions and sub-channels guarantee that employees receive necessary information without becoming exhausted by updates that do not pertain to them.
As well as using a dedicated messaging platform, delivering information in a consistent manner, and on a regular schedule, can work wonders for team productivity and motivation. Reiterating current and upcoming projects, deadlines and other critical information by way of a weekly update or summary is an easy way to create a reliable, central thread of communication. It also encourages employees to better organize and schedule themselves, and to stay connected to each other’s tasks.
2. Encourage a work-life balance
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the remote workforce was growing. A primary motivation for transitioning to online-only? A healthier work-life balance and more flexibility. Yet, when working from home became a necessity rather than a lifestyle choice, setting boundaries between the professional and the personal became harder. When your professional life is on a laptop in the other room, it can be tempting to send that last email or finish a little more of that task. In the long run, though, a work culture in which professional responsibilities dominate employees’ personal lives gives rise to depleted motivation and, ultimately, burnout.
A workplace in which workers are stressed, tense and exhausted is not conducive to productivity. To foster a working environment that affords remote workers balance and flexibility, collaborate with your team to establish a routine work schedule. If possible, work jointly with individuals to create personalized schedules that are attuned to professional and personal obligations. Shared calendar functions and automated email responses can also be used to support work-life balance, enabling colleagues to indicate when they are free, busy or “out of office.”
3. Make team-building a priority
Remote work can be isolating, and these feelings are particularly detrimental to sustaining motivation. In a space where opportunities to build friendships and share laughs with colleagues are rare, it is critical to dedicate time to team-building. These team-building activities can take different forms — from scheduling 15 minutes to express appreciation for one another at the start of the week, to a lengthier social event after working hours. Whether in person, remote, consistent or sporadic, such a demonstrated investment in the interpersonal dynamics of your workplace can create a remote workforce of enthusiastic collaborators who are excited to log on for the day.
Of course, managing a virtual workforce poses unique challenges — there are likely to be growing pains, like communication mishaps and scheduling difficulties — but there is no denying that working from home is here to stay. This is why it is key to be proactive and take initiative to avoid the common pitfalls of a remote work schedule.
Fortunately, by taking a diligent approach to communication, encouraging rest and recuperation, and creating an engaging workplace culture, it is possible to prevent burnout and transform your remote workforce. In the end, managing a successful remote team can be both advantageous and rewarding.