Keeping your team motivated in remote work environments

Zoom calls, texts, endless emails, spreadsheets, contracts…the daily task list goes on. The one thing glaringly missing is face-to-face interaction with our team, colleagues, and clients. For some, it’s been a welcome change – it allows for more flexibility and time with family. For others, it’s been more of a drain to not have in-person connections.

At RPC, we’ve been 100% remote since the beginning of the pandemic. While we dearly miss seeing our team members in-person, having lunch together, and chatting between calls and meetings, we’ve incorporated some great tactics to keep the positive vibes rolling and fight remote work burnout.

Before we dig into motivation tactics, we have to first understand some of the common struggles our remote team members feel on a daily basis.

The most common struggles reported by remote employees

  • Isolation. For many people, the office is where they get their social fix, build friendships, and feel a sense of camaraderie.
  • Work/life balance. When your desk is only a couple of feet away from the couch – and there are no social plans taking you out of the house, it’s extremely easy to fall into the trap of working constantly. This is a one way ticket to work burnout!
  • Communication. There is no shortage of channels to communicate with our teams – but non-verbal, digital outlets are no replacement for face to face conversation. Many remote employees don’t feel “heard.”
  • Mis-communication. We have all sent an email, text, or slack message that was taken the wrong way – at the least, seeming out of touch, and at most, offending someone on our team. Non-verbal communication is much more likely to be received as negative than if we were to verbally say the same thing.
  • Distraction. The distractions at home are never ending. Spouses, partners, kids, dogs, package deliveries, laundry, varying schedules, etc. It’s hard to focus and it can be next to impossible to get large projects done that require our undivided attention.

We know employees are up against many challenges working remotely and every day is going to look a little different for each of us. But the more we can address the common struggles listed above, the more likely we are to have a positive, motivated team.

So how do we help our teams overcome remote working struggles and avoid burnout?

Here are 5 ways to motivate remote team members

1. Isolation to connection

Isolation can be damaging in about a hundred different ways – so we need to “combat it with unavoidable chances to connect.” Kristine Thorndyke, founder of the online business Test Prep Nerds, said the biggest challenge to working remotely is “the lack of forced interaction you have with people on a day-to-day basis.”

Our own Co-Founder Nora Sheils recently shared several straightforward tips for helping team members feel connected on Thrive:

Walk and talks . During check-ins, encourage your team member to be on a “walk” with you. People can open up, talk more freely when walking outside as opposed to sitting at a desk. This could happen in person or over FaceTime as well! Just moving while talking will open up the conversation.

Connect with everyone to see what they need to make their work environment successful for them. If that means providing more tools, you can know early on and set them up for success.

Plan regular check-ins. Make sure your employees are happy, healthy and feeling supported.

Plan team experiences! Whether mailing something to each person or hosting a virtual experience, there are so many things you can do to keep your team connected personally and professionally. A few things we love: 

Lead by example. Your team tends to follow your lead, so if you don’t show your face during a digital meeting, neither will they. Or, if you show up dressed sloppy/unprofessionally, so will they. Your actions will reflect your brand and your expectations, so walk the talk.

2. Positive work/life balance

Work/life balance examples are set by owners and leadership. If you want to retain and motivate good employees, you have to protect them from burnout:

  • Regularly check-in on workload
  • Step in if at all possible when a client or project gets out of control
  • Respect business hours by only emailing/messaging during the normal work schedule. If you like to tackle emails early morning or late at night, schedule your emails so they are only received during regular hours. Most email applications allow you to easily schedule a time for delivery
  • Gift an over-performing employee with a surprise paid day-off 

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communication is likely the most important thing you can do to keep your team members feeling connected, supported, and valued. A simple way to communicate with your team as a whole is by doing a monthly (or bi-weekly) team meeting. 

  • Set an agenda and be prepared to speak to company updates, new initiatives, wins/losses…but most importantly, set aside time for open dialogue and questions
  • If team members don’t speak up during meetings, consider giving them an opportunity to submit anonymous questions in writing prior
  • We recommend making the meeting a video call so it is more personal
  • Be consistent. Pick a day/time and stick to it so employees know they can count on this opportunity to come together as a team

4. Avoid mis-communication mis-haps

Written (or non-verbal communication) is more likely to be construed as negative than intended. For this reason, it is important to avoid using written communication (email, messaging apps, texts, etc) for conveying sensitive information, providing criticism (constructive or not), and addressing a difficult client matter. For these types of situations, pick up the phone and have a conversation!

5. Avoid distraction

Distractions are par for the course in any remote environment. Knowing that our team members have a lot on their plates in today’s remote life – and simply being sensitive to them – is the best way to address distractions. Most of us have limited space at home and likely no dedicated office. Offering a stipend to allow your team members to create the best home office space they can is a big motivator! And has lasting impacts. When employees feel good about their space, they are more motivated. Noise cancelling headphones, additional lighting, a second monitor are all easy purchases that can promote productivity and workspace happiness.

Since many of us are remote for the foreseeable future, now is a great time to check in with our team and ensure we are doing our best to keep them motivated!


Business Insider
Thrive Global

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