The pandemic has created a new work order. Remote work is no longer considered uncharted territory. As companies worldwide are moving toward a virtual work environment, they are also struggling to find solutions to motivate employees and keep them engaged. Many organizations find themselves looking for ways to create effective and efficient work environments for their remote teams.
We asked our TAB community for tips on managing virtual teams effectively —here are five ways to keep virtual teams motivated.
#1. Understand your employees' motivations.
"One Size Fits All" doesn't apply to employee motivation, whether virtual or in the office. Remote work has been a positive experience for many employees while mentally and emotionally challenging for others.
Managers who have deeper conversations and seek to understand what motivates employees and their needs can develop targeted programs that increase employee motivation. For some, it's about financial rewards, others team recognition, a promotion, incremental training, a simple thank you, or a day off.
#2. Make your team feel valued and engaged.
The best way to motivate your team is to build trust, boost confidence, enhance creativity and problem-solving skills and make people feel valued and engaged. Managing a remote team requires frequent meetings to discuss the value of each team member and the team as a whole. These meetings include clarifying successes and failures along with workplace values. Communication should be consistent, contain SMART goals, active listening, and open communication. Finally, find opportunities to have virtual celebrations.
#3. Communication is key.
All employees want to do well, and nobody wants to perform poorly. Most business owners believe this. So, why do some employees do well while others do poorly? How does this reflect on your virtual working policy? Many studies have shown it has more to do with motivation and not so much employee competency. You only select and hire competent candidates, right? So, what motivation techniques would be beneficial for virtual employees? If you go back to the "fundamentals," you'll find that most, if not all, apply to motivating employees regardless of where they are sitting while performing their roles/responsibilities. One of my favorite fundamentals in this area is simple communication.
In most cases, it doesn't even matter whether it's in the form of an email, text message, phone call, or Zoom. Just make it a point to reach out and chat with your key employees and ask for a brief update. You can schedule it daily if you need to. It's less about you getting work status and more about establishing the cadence that is expected. This expectation is one of the most motivating factors, and it only takes ten minutes of your time.
#4. Keep in mind that humans naturally need interaction, so replicate a physical office-like environment for communication.
Try and stay as close to your in-person environment as possible, and aim to create an office-like atmosphere conducive to interaction. Here are some tips on how you can accomplish this goal:
- Do what you would do in person, just via video calls.
- Check-in every morning, have a cup of coffee online;
- Have virtual breakfasts/lunches;
- Continue your daily, weekly, and monthly meetings;
- If you have a question, do a video call —you would have walked to that person's desk if you were physically in the office;
- If you need to chat about an idea or need to exchange thoughts, do a video call —again, you would have walked to that person's desk in any case;
- Have your Friday afternoon "get-rid-of-the-week's-dust" sessions online;
- Make sure everyone agrees with the Key Performance Indicators — this gives certainty with regards to what is expected and a sense of control to the employee
#5. Address trust issues.
Over the last year, one of my clients has shifted to a hybrid work model. Some employees moved away, and some have a different schedule. As a result, part of the team works in the office, and part works remotely. Recently, he noticed that some trust issues had arisen that were never there when everyone was in the office. He's addressing this challenge by talking with the entire team about what they need to do to increase trust. One thing he's going to suggest is sharing progress and accomplishments in meetings so that everyone knows how each other is contributing to the group's success.