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We have been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic for over two years and it seems that society has returned to some degree of normalcy. It’s a new normal, sure, but at least we’re no longer scrambling to buy rolls of toilet paper or making makeshift masks from T-shirts.
But while our social calendars are once again made up of face-to-face meetings, concerts, and restaurant outings, our professional lives remain online for many of us. For some, this is out of necessity – offices are closed or operate on hybrid personal and remote schedules; however, a the vast majority of the workforce chooses to work from home.
Remote working offers many benefits to employees and their organizations, from a better work-life balance to increased productivity. As I have learned over the years, motivating a remote team is imperative to reap these benefits and drives your employees to burnout. Here are three easy ways I’ve been able to motivate my remote staff.
Related: How Leaders Can Make the Most of Remote Working
1. Communicate efficiently
With fewer opportunities for face-to-face interactions throughout the day, there are more opportunities for important messages lost in translation. This is why improving communication within and between teams is vital to ensure optimal work performance.
Try using collaboration platforms like Slack, Teams, or Monday.com to simplify and streamline your internal messaging. Each team can have its own channel, through which collective deadlines can be communicated. Individuals can identify potential collaborators or ask for advice, and each colleague will have some knowledge of which projects have been assigned to whom. Direct messaging features and subchannels ensure that employees get the information they need without being exhausted by updates that don’t concern them.
In addition to using a dedicated messaging platform, delivering information in a consistent manner and on a regular schedule can do wonders for team productivity and motivation. Reiterating current and future projects, deadlines, and other critical information through a weekly update or summary is an easy way to create a reliable, central line of communication. It also encourages employees to organize and schedule themselves better, and to stay connected to each other’s tasks.
Related: Overcoming New Challenges in a Postpandemic Landscape
2. Promote a work-life balance
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the external workforce grew. A primary motivation for switching to online-only? A healthier work-life balance and more flexibility. But as working from home became a necessity rather than a lifestyle choice, setting boundaries between the professional and the personal became more difficult. When your professional life is sitting on a laptop in the other room, it can be tempting to send that last email or finish off some more of that task. However, in the long run, a work culture in which professional responsibilities dominate employees’ personal lives leads to depleted motivation and ultimately burnout.
A workplace where employees are stressed, tense and exhausted is not conducive to productivity. To create a work environment that provides remote workers with balance and flexibility, work with your team to establish a routine work schedule. If possible, work with individuals to create personalized schedules tailored to professional and personal commitments. Shared calendar features and automated email responses can also be used to support work-life balance, allowing colleagues to indicate when they are free, busy or “out of the office”.
Related: Life-Work Balance Is Becoming the New Normal
3. Make team building a priority
Working remotely can be isolating and these feelings are particularly damaging to maintaining motivation. In a space where opportunities to build friendships and laugh with colleagues are rare, dedicating time to team building is critical. These team-building activities can take a variety of forms, from planning 15 minutes to express appreciation for each other at the start of the week, to a longer social event after work hours. Whether in-person, remote, consistently or sporadically, such a proven investment in the interpersonal dynamics of your workplace can create a remote workforce of enthusiastic employees eager to volunteer for the day.
Of course, managing a virtual workforce comes with unique challenges – there will likely be growing pains, such as communication difficulties and scheduling issues – but it’s undeniable that working from home has become a necessity. That’s why it’s essential to be proactive and take initiative to avoid the common pitfalls of a remote work schedule.
Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent burnout and transform your remote workforce by taking a careful approach to communication, encouraging rest and recovery, and creating an engaging workplace culture. Ultimately, leading a successful team remotely can be both beneficial and rewarding.