Many leaders have crossed the first hurdles of moving their teams remote: ensuring colleagues have set up their tech tools, defined their processes, and are logged into their video conference and e-mail accounts.
But this is just the first step towards creating an effective work environment for remote employees. The next critical question is: How to motivate people who work from home?
This question is important because, during crises such as Covid-19, employees often tend to focus more on practical work — for example answering the right number of tickets, or following the approved project plan — rather than adapting to solve the bigger, newer problems the business may be facing.
So, how can you keep your remote employees motivated?
First, acknowledge reduced motivation levels
It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s likely your remote employees will be less motivated at first. This is particularly true if it’s the first time your company allows remote-working. This is due to the fact that your employees won’t have as much interaction as they would normally have with co-workers and customers, and also that they may not see the impact of their work the way they normally would. To avoid the latter, recognition and praise are key.
Second, be more flexible with procedures and processes
While some degree of boundaries and guidelines help people move quickly, too many create a spiral of demotivation. In such cases, employees tend to stop problem-solving and thinking creatively, and instead, do the bare minimum. Some of your policies may also not be transferable or applicable to remote working settings.
Third, make work engaging
It sounds obvious but if you want your staff to be engaged in their work, you have to make their work engaging. The most powerful way to do this is to give people the opportunity to experiment and solve problems that really matter. This challenge can range from something as small as how to better greet customers or accommodate new schedules to something as big as moving your previously in-person business online. Involve your employees in matters that are beyond their jobs.
It is possible for teams to experiment and adapt. It is also possible for teams to freeze under pressure and recede. Make it your mission to achieve the former and achieve greater levels of growth and productivity as a remote team than as an in-person team. This is a challenge that can keep you energized and experimenting long after this crisis is behind us.