Motivating Remote Teams

Remote team members are often overlooked, although it's really never something that's done on purpose. The truth is that it's hard motivating remote teams when those employees are not coming into the office regularly, and don't have as strong of a connection with the rest of the workplace. This can be especially true for remote workers who work from home or on the road, but it can also apply to employees working in satellite offices outside of their main office. These types of teams can feel disconnected and unappreciated because they don’t have the same opportunities as on-site employees to interact with coworkers daily.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had lasting impacts on workplaces on a global scale, and that means that remote work has taken on a whole new meaning. In a 2021 study of 400 business owners and managers, 58.5% of them plan to combine remote and in-office work going forward, while only 15.5% of them plan on going back to the office full-time. Those are some shocking statistics, considering only 23.25% of the companies surveyed were 100% remote prior to the pandemic. When you think about the implications of this on workplaces for the foreseeable future, it's not surprising that it's more important than ever before to have the ability to motivate remote workers and ensure all employees, whether in the office or remote, feel valued, respected, and that they are still important contributors to the workplace as a whole.

Projections, Inc. has had decades of experience helping organizations develop their unique positive employee relations strategy. We offer multi-faceted communication solutions, including leadership development tools, custom eLearning and video, and more, while working to solve employee engagement challenges for workplaces of all sizes. We also understand how challenging it can be to motivate remote team members. Despite your best efforts, your remote employees may still feel disconnected, excluded, or even wonder if their efforts are being noticed. If you're wondering how to motivate employees working from home, or keep your team motivated, here are 10 tips for you stop get started.

10 Tips for Motivating Remote Workers

If you need to motivate your remote team, or employees who are even in a temporary work from home position, here are 10 tips for leaders to implement.

1) Utilize more video conferencing tools - Remote team members and all employees need face time in order to feel valued and connected to the rest of the team, so be sure to use video conferencing tools to connect with your remote employees more often. Zoom, Google meetings, and Microsoft Teams are just a few examples of conferencing tools that can provide virtual connection.

2) Create virtual company outings - Consider hosting virtual company outings or events where you bring together people from different locations. Remote employees likely feel like they can't relate well to every other employee in the company, if they are secluded. This is especially true, though, if your entire team is involved in remote work, whether temporarily or permanently. Remember that motivation comes in different forms for everyone, and some employees need additional and unique forms of connection to keep communication lines open and build trust in management and boost morale.

3) Encourage your remote employees to connect on social media sites - Connect with your remote employees on LinkedIn, or even Facebook or Twitter, so that they feel like part of the team. Encourage them to "meet" more team members, and connect by finding things they may have in common outside of work. Technology can be a great tool for connection and communication amongst every employee in the company.

4) Get to know each other better by sharing personal information - Help build a bond with your remote workers by asking them about their hobbies and interests and sharing some of the same things. You can implement a quick time to "chat" before a meeting starts, ensuring your teams know that you want to connect with them and care about them personally as well as professionally.

5) Include your employees in meetings and group discussions - Whether they can attend via video conference or not, at least fill them in on whatever was discussed in them, by inviting them to a separate one-on-one meeting with you.

motivating remote workers

6) Hold virtual meetings when needed - Reach out to your employees if any changes need to be made or something comes up that requires a meeting, even if it’s not an urgent issue. Remote workers will appreciate the opportunity to get some virtual face time and be included.

7) Participate in company chat rooms or forums - Get involved in company chat rooms or forums where your team discusses what’s going on while sharing the latest news.

8) Participate in social activities - Your employees want to feel like they are included, so get involved with them socially whenever possible. Of course, if your employees are working remotely, they may not be local to you, but this is a tip you should take advantage of, if possible. You can host team building events, like going to an escape room, or simply invite everyone to a local happy hour. Whatever you feel is appropriate and the right level of professionalism for your workplace, take advantage any time you can!

9) Schedule one-on-one meetings regularly - Make sure to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with each of your remote staff members. Offer opportunities for your remote workers to provide feedback about their day-to-day life, experiences, and give them the space to offer whatever they can.

10) Remind employees of your appreciation - Don't forget to let your people know how much you appreciate their contributions and dedication to the company. According to a Gallup report, 80% of employees say that recognition motivates their work performance. Additionally, they say it provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Here are six examples of gifts you can give to remote workers, in case you need some ideas!

We've previously written about many of the ways you can help to connect your remote employees. Bonus: there are also some tips to stay on-track yourself, whether you're a manager, supervisor, or employee working remotely.

Why Is it So Hard to Keep Remote Employees Motivated?

Remote employees are often not motivated, as we've stated previously. It's not surprising when you put yourself in their shoes and think about the tasks they may have to deal with on top of ensuring they get their workload done each day. If they are a parent working from home, they may also be dealing with children who are learning remotely, or simply have a difficult schedule they need to manage. After all, 2020 and 2021 threw all of us, whether employees, supervisors, business owners, or parents, a giant curve ball. Remote employees may be learning to adapt to a new schedule or juggling several balls at once in their home.

Sometimes, it's best to think about your employees as if you're in their position. Even if you're an HR professional, supervisor, or manager, surely you've held a position where you were managed and wanted your leaders to show you that they truly care about how invested you are in your work. When you are at work, do you feel like your boss cares about your well-being? Do they take the time to motivate and inspire you to get better results? Considering that studies show that employees who are motivated by their supervisors perform 20% better than unmotivated employees, this isn't something to bat an eye at! It's hard to be motivated with remote work sometimes, because it's hard for remote employees to feel connected or inspired whether they're out in the "field" or working regularly from home.

Benefits of Motivating Remote Workers

The benefits for motivating remote employees (bonus: this is effective and important for all employees in any workplace!) are endless. Higher employee engagement, increased productivity, trust and connection between managers and team members, etc. Motivating your remote employees will not only improve their performance, but can also work to reduce turnover, increase employee retention rates, and lead to happy employees who are willing to put in additional effort when they feel appreciated. Even if you don’t have the resources or time to offer a full recognition program, there are plenty of ways you can show appreciation on an individual level. You may not be able to do anything about the company culture outside of your control, (although, definitely work to improve culture whenever possible), but you can still create a motivating environment with just three steps.

Ways to Recognize and Motivate Remote Employees

Celebrate their success - Acknowledge accomplishments, big and small, by celebrating successes in front of the entire office. If your entire team is working remote, consider a virtual "award ceremony" to celebrate accomplishments. Perhaps you have only a select amount of remote team members; you can still show them appreciation by letting them see that the entire team is supporting them and their achievements.

Get personal - Find out what motivates each employee individually! The best way to figure this out is simply to ask. Most assume that the number one motivator is cash, however, here are 13 unique suggestions from Forbes to show recognition to your remote workers that don't include a monetary bonus.

Provide and solicit feedback - Give employees at least one-on-one time to discuss personal and professional development. According to the 2019 LinkedIn Workforce Learning report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company if they simply invested in helping them learn. Feedback is the best way to gage how your remote workers feel about their career path. In addition to showing them regular recognition, and showing an interest in their personal lives, it's so important to regularly check-in and see where their heads are at.

how to motivate remote workers

The Importance of Recognition on Workplace Culture

We recently compiled a list of 10 ways to provide recognition to your team members. They can all be incorporated whether you have remote employees, a virtual team, or you have an in-office work environment. Recognition can have a large impact on not only a remote employee, but your business can really benefit from the improved company morale, positive workplace culture, and engaged workforce. Communication improves, feedback is more easily provided, and productivity is guaranteed to boost as well.

Forbes stated that, “Recognition is the number one thing managers can give to their employees to inspire them for producing great work. Not even pay hikes, promotion or autonomy come closer to recognition when it comes to motivating employees.” Consider that a remote employee is often less connected than an employee who is regularly in the office. However, a little recognition can go a very long way. Clearly, it is often much more impactful and important than even a bonus or monetary gift. If you want to motivate your remote employees, don't skimp on the recognition.

Not only will your remote team members feel valued and appreciated, but your overall company motivation is likely to see an increase as well. When your business is focused on implementing a positive workplace culture, where recognition is emphasized, there is no doubt you will create an engaged workforce. This is an environment where workers will feel motivated to maximize their productivity and take advantage of all of the tools they have available to them. It's also an environment where each employee knows their voices are heard, their input is solicited, and their daily performance has a positive impact on the business.

Motivating Remote Teams

If the managers and supervisors in your business have struggled with finding out how to motivate remote team members, our lesson entitled "Motivating Remote Teams" is here to equip you with the tools you need to improve and succeed. You can schedule a free demo or sign up for a 14-day trial to get started with your first training today.

Here's what your leaders will come away with when they complete  "Motivating Remote Teams" training:

  • That remote workers are actually more engaged and more productive than in-house counterparts
  • How to communicate with remote workers
  • How to set and reach goals when teams aren't on-site
  • Why the social aspects of work are important to remote teams

Here's a preview of what this lesson is all about:

In this training, we'll discuss why remote workers are increasingly more valuable, especially in today's uncertain times. We'll also go over some of the situations that can cause disengagement amongst remote working employees. We offer leaders a 6-Point Plan for Motivating Remote Teams while demonstrating the value of being flexible with remote workers.

About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is Director of IRI's Digital Workplace Solutions Group, and the founder of A Better Leader. Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.