Maybe you’re practicing responsible social distancing. Maybe your company doesn’t believe in expensive office overhead. Maybe you’re managing parenthood, part-time work, or illness. There are many different reasons why working remotely works for many people.
But managing a team of remote employees calls for a unique approach. Remote work doesn’t equate to management by remote control. Keeping staff engaged and motivated is crucial to a loyal, productive workforce, and is more difficult to achieve without face-to-face interaction. Here are some best practices to help guide the way.
Keep all the communication channels open
Without real daily interaction, employees can easily become isolated and feel like they belong less, and mean less, to your team. This can eventually lead to a lack of motivation and decreased productivity. You can offset this by communicating more often. Here’s how:
Schedule structured check-ins: Consistent communication is essential to keeping ‘normality’ in a remote working environment. Ensure that you have regular one-on-one meetings with your team members and set a clear agenda. This is where you can brainstorm and be creative, implement feedback and review sessions, or simply talk about how an employee is feeling.
Keep face-to-face interaction through technology: From misunderstood email to the lack of non-verbal telephone cues, remote communication can be challenging. Video conferencing is the best replacement for in-person interaction, and showing your face should be encouraged. Help your team get set up on Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Uberconference or other web meeting solutions to make this possible.
Provide various communication channels: By providing several channels for your employees to communicate through, you are offering more opportunities for connection. Remote workers often find themselves stunted by the added effort of getting information from co-workers. Consider introducing an instant messaging tool where employees can easily ask quick questions, as if they were still seated side-by-side. Instant messaging can be distracting, so be sure to set clear expectations for how each channel should be best used.
Schedule time for informal communication: Don’t forget that remote employees will also miss the general social chitchat that takes place in an office environment. Arrange informal video drop-ins, where your employees can take a break and chat about anything they feel like.
Recognizing your remote employees
The key to establishing a successful ‘distributed’ employee program is ensuring that everyone knows that they're truly appreciated and their contributions are valued. This starts by doing all you can to recognize the contributions that everyone.
Be consistent: Just as with communication, it’s crucial to be consistent with recognition. For remote workers, this means regularly acknowledging when they meet expectations, not just when they exceed them. A quick “thank you” and “you did a great job on…” goes a long way.
Virtual award ceremonies: To boost morale, introduce virtual awards sessions for remote teams. Employees can nominate their co-workers for the most productive, helpful or positive employee of the week award.
Create a news hub for positivity: Build a space online where remote workers can post good news. Employees can share their personal shout outs to recognize and appreciate their peers.
Make it personal: In tough times, it pays to be personal. With every employee managing their own personal challenges such as health concerns, family stresses and financial security, be sure to recognize when they are pushing through to get the job done. These recognitions could be as small as a personalized message, or a delivery of flowers or cupcakes to make them feel acknowledged and appreciated.
By following these recommendations, remote workers who are either on the other end of town or on the other side of the world, will feel like they're the next desk over.
Creating engagement in every workspace
With Power2Motivate, you can build a program that’s tailored to match your company size and culture, and directly link positive behavior and achievement to tangible, attractive rewards. Contact us today to find out how we can help keep your team members focused and motivated. We can set up a demo of our highly configurable engagement platform, so you can see for yourself just how impactful it can be.