How to keep a remote team engaged and motivated

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Work satisfaction is a crucial element to keeping your remote staff engaged, motivated, and loyal for the long-term. It’s a challenge to ensure that your virtual team feels connected and valued; especially if you are managing an in-house workforce at the same time.

Tips to help you span the impersonal virtual stratosphere of the Internet:

1. Communication

Always be aware that you are blind to non-verbal nuances unless you are using Facetime, Skype, or a similar tool to communicate with your remote team. Not being able to look someone in the eye when communicating can lead to all sorts of interpretations, or misinterpretations, of words appearing on a screen. A slip of the tongue can instantly be corrected when taken the wrong way, but a written sentence sent with the click of a key can create dramas if misinterpreted.

Keep your remote staff informed weekly of what is happening within the business. Ask for feedback or any questions. Allow this to be on a confidential basis and ensure that you are working on an effective remote communication platform. This will allow them to know that they are a part of a team, albeit a remote workforce; their opinions matter, and they are not just sitting at home alone in a solitary work haze.

Over-communicate rather than trust that your remote team understands your garbled instructions or expectations. Be clear, concise, and highlight the vital parts from the waffle of correct English. No one of the human race is a mind reader, yet.

Ask your remote staff to confirm their interpretation of a communication to make sure they understand what you want.

Keep communication lines open at all times so that a constant flow naturally happens, as it would in an office situation.

Stay in touch regularly, such as a weekly video update that your remote worker can view at any time when it suits them.

2. Project Management Tools

Use an excellent project management tool, there are plenty on the scene to choose from to suit your purpose (Trello, Basecamp, Asana, TeamWeek…). Think along the lines of online chatting, video and audio calls, time and performance tracking, plus whatever other apps suit your purpose for remote workers to keep in touch or to share screens if needed.

3. Set Goals and Expectations

  • Don’t expect the impossible from your remote workforce.
  • Set realistic goals for your virtual team to save yourself some frustration and agro. This will give the work-from-home member a clear focus of what is expected.
  • Have goals mutually agreed to by the concerned parties before the commencement of the work.
  • Track that your expectations are being met on time by checking in with your remote worker regularly and by using a performance tracking app.

4. Coordinate (Not Just in Your Mind)

A remote employee is in the dark about what everyone else on the virtual team is up to; unless you tell them or have a tool whereby they can keep track of the other team members’ work-flow, as it relates to their own. Coordination also gives a remote worker an insight into how their contribution impacts on the overall picture, keeping them engaged.

5. Assist with Time Management if Need Be

Not everyone is a time management guru. This is a skill set that can be learned or enhanced with a bit of training and knowledge that will result in more focused productivity. If one of your remote employees is losing the plot where work and playtime are concerned, provide them with the resources to increase their motivation. They will think that you care, which of course you do, but for very different reasons to theirs.

6. Keep Your Remote Workforce Happy

A happy and engaged remote workforce equals productivity. How do you know if your remote team member is happy? Ask – it’s that simple. If you receive a backlash of gripes, it may be an easy fix, like providing an upgrade in hardware, training, or rethinking expectations on both sides.

7. Time Frames – There are 24 hours in a Day

Remote workers want flexible work hours; it’s why they are not sitting in an office from 9am to 5pm. The remote work perk is that work is done from home or wherever a remote employee may happen to be in the world. The global clock varies as much as a remote worker’s most productive hours. It may be in the wee hours of the morning or late at night, but whenever it is, allow your remote workforce the freedom to get their work done without restrictions.

8. Say “Hello”

Never forget your manners. Remember that your remote workers are not computer robots, but human beings who like to exchange pleasantries before getting into the nitty-gritty of communication.

9. Are your Remote Staff Alone or Lonely?

The biggest pitfall for many remote workers is the lonely factor of their environment. For many, it may be a blessing, while for others, they may be craving interaction with other mortals that naturally occurs in a typical office situation.

Allay any feelings that they are the only person in the world by getting to know them on an individual basis. Enquire about what’s going on in their life, share a joke, and have a laugh. Create virtual get-togethers for yourself and your team of the non-work variety via a remote work app regularly.

10. Don’t Under Estimate the Value of Trust

Always communicate honestly with your remote team, and they will learn to trust you. You should give up your freakish control issues and trust that your individual remote workers will do what is asked of them. If mistakes are made, be tolerant, and believe that people learn from mistakes made.

11. Acknowledge the Good Work

Give out emoji as pre-schools hand out star stickers for good work, especially if the company budget doesn’t allow for that big bonus to be given. People like to be praised when they have excelled or given 110%. We all want to know that we are appreciated and our work is being recognized.

12. Create a Company Culture

Ensure that your remote team members have time to interact with each other regularly to get a team spirit and company vibe happening. Use innovative team building activities online to promote cohesive goals. Think along the lines of Play Words or a desk photo contest.

13. Create Career Paths for Your Remote Team

Remote workers are the same as in-house staff, they want to know that they have a career path in front of them. Take the time to plan where they could be in the future, as it will keep them focused on reaching the goals you put before them.

Above all, respect your remote employee’s boundaries by agreeing to when you should or shouldn’t contact them. They need their own space to create a work/life balance.

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