To keep remote workers motivated in the current business environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, managers will have to utilize a variety of technology tools and communication methods in their remote team management strategies that encourage engagement, collaboration, satisfaction and accountability among workers.
Remote work is no longer an attractive perk reserved for knowledge workers or business executives, instead, it’s the new and indefinite norm for essential and non-essential workers across the globe.
Yet, despite the rising number of remote workers, business leaders and managers are facing increasing challenges when it comes to remote team management, with some managers admitting to feeling burdened with the added responsibility of keeping their remote teams engaged and productive during work from home directives.
This means that management, both new and tenured, must continue to hone their remote team management skills so that each member of their team feels motivated and valued.
Here’s what business leaders across the globe are including in their strategies to keep their teams motivated:
Remote team management check-ins
It's important to establish a routine for daily check-ins with workers. This could take the form of one-on-one calls or a team call if the work is highly collaborative. Including video conferencing in your check-ins is a great way to engage workers while also assessing for any non-verbal cues that an individual may have any concerns about the situation.
Calls should be regular and predictable and workers should feel comfortable in relating any of their concerns or issues while working remotely.
Gartner Research finds 40 per cent of organizations have set up additional remote check-ins for workers and managers and 32 per cent have introduced new tools for these meetings since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Turning phone calls into video conferences
Remote teams will often communicate asynchronously, which eliminates the context of tone and body language. Without these non-verbal communications, a manager’s intent can be left open to misinterpretation.
Introducing video into your conference calls and team meetings will help your team members connect by humanizing the interaction. In fact, a recent report from Gigaom finds 87 per cent of remote employees feel more connected to their team with using video conferencing.
Making time for recreating water cooler moments
Frequent communication is essential in any working environment, yet when an organization’s entire workforce is remote - it’s vital.
A strong culture of communication is one of the most effective ways to motivate workers, yet communication doesn’t always have to be work-related.
Aside from their daily tasks, workers also spend a lot of time together, sharing moments of their lives. Remote work makes it more difficult to keep these moments alive – but not impossible.
If you have a dedicated team chat, set up channels related to topics outside of work like hobbies, interests, cat memes, (anything!).
You can also use platforms like Microsoft’s Yammer to set up Groups for virtual gatherings and to celebrate special days (like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays), company milestones, as well as worker recognition. Creating this type of community will help develop a culture of connection, which, in turn, can inspire motivation.
When managing remote teams, it’s also important to encourage employees to leverage communication platforms they already use, either at work or in their personal lives, to create new ways to work together.
Implementing a recognition or rewards program
Your organization may or may not already have an internal employee recognition program in place, but keep your remote team even more connected with a specific program that ensures they’re aware of the value they bring to the team and organization.
You can do this by identifying certain company values you wish to reward and then implementing a structure of how workers get selected for these rewards. Will the reward be a gift card or another type of recognition?
The key is to make the reward(s) meaningful and motivating to your team.
Providing ongoing feedback
For most remote workers, this is their first time working remotely full-time, and they’re going to need regular reassurances. This means you’ll have to be more purposeful in providing feedback during your communications; otherwise, some of your remote team members may feel in the dark about their performance.
It’s also important to remember that some team members will need feedback daily, and others will feel comfortable with fewer check-ins. It’s up to you as a manager to determine which is the best course of action for each of your team members.
Providing direction with confidence
It the time of uncertainty, your team members are relying on leadership to set the tone. Communicate regularly with employees and ensure to maintain an open dialog while doing so.
Now, more than ever, it's important to acknowledge stress or concerns teams may have and empathize with their struggles. To open the conversation, you can simply begin checking in with asking something like, "How is the remote work situation going so far?" This question can elicit important feedback that the worker otherwise may not have brought to your attention.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has presented a truly unprecedented situation that is affecting all of our families, our communities and our businesses. It is a trying time as we collectively navigate this new reality. First and foremost, we are all in this together, and Procom is here to help.
We have created a dedicated COVID-19 page for employers that will be updated with the latest information on the pandemic as updates are released.
You can access the page below.