Business Advice Blog

5 Ways to Motivate Your Remote Employees

remote team

Working offsite is no longer the revolutionary business idea it once was. These days, many businesses oversee a workforce that—at least to some degree—rarely or almost never actually sets foot in the office or workplace. These remote employees work from home or even in another state or country, seeing to their job responsibilities just as efficiently as if they were located in a cubicle outside their manager’s door.

At the same time, certain challenges persist where remote workers are concerned. How can you be sure an offsite employee is being as productive as possible? What can be done to motivate him or her in much the same way that onsite employees are inspired to do their best?

In reality, notes employee productivity specialist Dave Nevogt, “the only things keeping remote employees from taking their foot off the gas pedal is their own discipline and their motivation.” It’s the employer’s responsibility “to provide this motivation across many miles, sometimes continents.”

Here are five practical ways to ensure your offsite workforce remains focused and motivated:

1. Maintain regular communications. Given the available technology (email, Skype, numerous other web-based platforms), there’s no reason you can’t stay in touch with offsite employees on a regular basis. The key is remembering to contact them on an agreed-upon schedule (once or twice a week, for example) to see if they’re on target to complete a project, need help with additional resources or simply have problems you can address. When these employees don’t hear from the main office, their sense of dislocation can grow.

2. Think of remote employees as a key element of the team. Feeling like they’re part of a team effort helps bolster a remote worker’s sense of belonging. Always make sure any contact you have with your onsite staff (new announcements, email newsletters, etc.) also includes those working from home or elsewhere. Encourage employees in the office to stay in touch with their offsite counterparts, as well.

3. Hold virtual meetings, when needed. Just as it’s important to convene internal meetings when there’s something important to communicate, you can schedule virtual meetings with remote staff as a way to track their progress, foster contact between these employees and keep them abreast of events within the organization. Video-conferencing is an excellent resource for these meetings, as even digital face-to-face contact is better than rushed, impersonal phone calls.

4. Extend recognition to your offsite team. By and large, businesses understand that “employee recognition not only improves company culture, boosts morale, prevents costly turnover [and] increases your bottom line.” If you have a robust employee recognition and reward program in place, always remember to include your remote team as well. Highlighting their efforts, when appropriate, will bolster their sense of inclusiveness and motivate them to continue to excel at what they do. At the same time, it only takes a few minutes to compose a “Great job!” email and send it on when the time is right. Any communication that underscores your appreciation for their efforts can work wonders.

5. Offer opportunities for professional growth. Again, as with employees who work in the office, the remote team should benefit from training and development programs sponsored by the business. Just remember that these employees “already have flexibility in their jobs, so they expect the same flexibility when it comes to training.” This includes online learning programs offered in a range of formats, so offsite workers can choose the ones that are most convenient and effective for them. In exchange, you’ll benefit from their enhanced skills and knowledge.

Your employees, whether based offsite or in the workplace, are among your business’s key assets. Keeping them motivated is well worth the time and effort involved.

Want more advice on motivating employees or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

7 Tips for Boosting Teamwork Productivity

Fishy

In today’s competitive marketplace, the benefits of individual achievement—while always important—pale in comparison to what can be achieved through high-performing teamwork. If you’ve put in the time, strategy and effort to hire the right people for your positions, then it only makes good sense to encourage collaboration for both short-term and long-range projects.

Effective teamwork can significantly accelerate completion of key initiatives, while also acting as a powerful employee retention tool. Employees thrive in a culture where both teamwork and individual initiative are valued and are less inclined to consider other opportunities for employment.

However, if your teamwork efforts are falling short, consider these action steps:

1. Select a leader. A group of employees without a leader is like a rudderless boat. Every team needs someone to take charge, address any conflicts that arise and set the tone and pace for the work to come.

2. Emphasize collaboration and open discussion. The whole point of teamwork is for individuals to bond and share their knowledge and expertise. Your job (or a manager’s job) is to provide all the technical resources necessary to achieve this goal, including:

  • A shared digital workspace, where team members can find documents and other information needed to move forward on a project
  • Easy access to the digital workplace, whether team members are in the office, on the road, in their homes, etc.
  • Opportunities to communicate informally, via chat, video, email, group forums, and so on

3. Delegate intelligently. Different employees bring different skills and qualities to the table. For a team to become more productive, it makes sense to delegate key responsibilities to those individuals best equipped to take on the tasks at hand. Assign these tasks with clearly outlined roles and responsibilities, while making sure everyone feels they’re contributing equally to the project.

4. Empower the team to make decisions. As a project or initiative moves forward, a time will come when key decisions must be made. Problems can arise when the team leader lacks the authority to make such decisions, and must instead defer to senior management and/or the CEO or business owner. Not only does this slow progress, it undermines the team’s confidence in its own ability to handle responsibilities.

As much as possible, empower the team to decide what actions to take (while, of course, keeping all relevant parties informed), so the process is more efficient and effective.

5. Keep your own involvement to a minimum. Teamwork suffers when there’s too much micromanaging from above. Resist the impulse to hold frequent meetings to stay updated on the team’s progress, or to email team members on an overly frequent basis. Give the team more time and space to focus on what you’ve asked them to do. Brief, once-a-week updates are probably all you need in order to stay on track with what the team is doing.

6. Make sure remote workers are part of the team. In some cases, a remotely located employee may offer specific benefits to a team project. It’s critically important to keep this individual (or individuals) in the loop and to make every effort to solicit their input during brainstorming sessions.

Chats and emails are fine, but “you learn more about people when you can watch their mannerisms and facial expressions.” With video conferencing tools, team members can “really connect with the members of their teams living in different parts of the world.”

7. Recognize and reward. Finally, be sure to recognize the achievements gained through teamwork and reward the individuals involved. Public acknowledgment of what the team has achieved offers a strong incentive to do more of the same, and helps promote a company culture that values both individual and team contributions—and wants to retain the talented employees who make it all happen.

Want more advice on promoting teamwork or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!