Remote work is not going away any time soon. That seems to be the consensus from businesses and outside observers. While fully, 100% remote work-from-home might not stay the norm, other hybrid models will probably continue to rise in popularity from now on.
That’s why it’s important to learn about how to get a handle on motivating remote teams. We introduced some of the issues when it comes to motivating teams remotely. A lot of those issues had to do with changes in the way team members communicate as they shift to remote work.
In this blog post we’re going to distill a lot of that information into some simple steps you can take to raise motivation. These steps are just the beginning and are meant to get you thinking and becoming more aware of what you do to effectively motivate your remote team.
Remote teams are a little different from in-person teams and require some shifts in thinking in order to engage them and to keep them motivated. It may not be as easy to communicate through screens and SMS, and the dispersed nature of remote work lends itself to isolation and a more lethargic sense of team unity. However, these challenges are not insurmountable. All it takes is a little more effort and preparation.
1. Be proactive
One of the most important things you can do to motivate your team is to be proactive about it. Taking an active role and being aware of problems can be especially critical when it comes to online teams. Often, it can be hard to sense issues that are bubbling under the surface, something that is magnified when teams are communicating via video conferencing tools and apps.
Therefore, team leaders and team members that are interested in motivating the rest of their team need to be extra aware of potential problems on the team. Whether it’s issues between team members or a general feeling of burnout, stepping in before things spiral out of control and addressing problems head-on can help nip problems in the bud, as well as give your team the sense that they are valued and looked after.
A large part proactively motivating your remote team is ensuring that communication is functioning and flowing smoothly. As we’ve mentioned before, a lot of the problems that occur on remote teams can be boiled down to communication issues.
In the context of remote teams, good communication means using the right tools for the job. Look out for the right technologies that serve your team best and allow your team to really engage with each other, not just the ones that are the most popular. Also remember that it’s never too late to change which tools you’re using if you sense that motivation on your team is lagging.
Once you’ve found the online communication tools that are best for your team, make sure everyone is engaged with sharing and communicating, and provide space and time for group-wide meetings, too. When it feels like someone is holding back or disappearing in the mix, reach out to them individually.
3. Offer regular feedback
One major aspect of communication is feedback. And because remote teams don’t have that instant feedback from their team members or managers in-person at the office, taking the time to communicate feedback is even more important.
Feedback isn’t just about letting team members know if they’re doing a good job or not, even though this is important since work styles and roles may shift in the transition to remote work. Feedback also lets individual team members know that they are valued and that someone is looking out for them; that someone is interested in their further development.
This is even more important when workers are separated and for the most part alone. And giving this feedback on a regular basis is a very doable way of quickly raising motivation, as well as feelings of mutual respect.
4. Check in
Along with feedback, checking in with teams and individual team members is another way to boost motivation and let team members know that they are valued. Checking in means having conversations about how someone is doing, and they can be long or short. Even if someone doesn’t want to talk or share, just asking the question may be a way to make team members feel more engaged and upbeat.
Getting into the habit of checking in with the rest of your team is a proactive step too, and let’s you get a sense of how your team is feeling in general as well as suss out any potential burn-out spots. You can even facilitate regular check-ins between other team members with a prepared set of questions (hobbies, interests, general opinions, etc.) as an easy-to-plan remote team building activity.
5. Schedule time for fun and team building
Speaking of team building activities, remote teams especially need team building exercises and fun time to make up for the lack of spontaneous interaction in the office. Scheduling regular team building sessions lets your remote team unwind and bond, while also giving them the chance to have fun. This is a great way to motivate your team and show them that they are being valued not only as productive workers but also as people.
6. Celebrate successes
Remote team members tend to get lost in their own work since they aren’t around other members who are working on different projects. That’s why celebrating successes together can be a powerful way to bring teams together to see the larger picture. It also taps into motivators like acknowledgment and validation at work, which can enhance overall team enthusiasm.
Celebrating success can mean reviewing your accomplishments after a difficult project, or hosting an online drinking party. Either way, it allows for a pause and a moment of reflection about what went well, before continuing on to future tasks.
7. Experiment and think outside the box
Above all, it’s important to keep in mind that working remotely is an opportunity to change the way your team functions for the better. There is always space for improvement and growth, which is why experimentation and thinking outside the box can be beneficial. Keep looking for new tools, new ways to stay organized, and new methods to stay motivated and engaged. And by including the rest of the teams in this process, you can get more input into what works and keep your team active and enthusiastic about shaping their remote work experience.
Looking for team building activities that will motivate your remote team and create lasting memories? Invite Japan has a variety of programs, from online to in-person, that will fit your needs and help your team work together more effectively. Contact us for more information!