5 Rules of Thumb for Motivating Remote Employees Effectively

Posted by Guthrie-Jensen Consultants

Various technological advancements have allowed companies to practice remote work in their company over the last few years, but it was the spread of COVID-19 that drove more businesses to jump on the bandwagon in 2020. Just like the virus, many were unprepared for this model and had a hard time adjusting, especially coupled with the stress of battling a pandemic.

There was no other way to keep businesses alive while ensuring employees’ safety from catching the disease—88% of companies worldwide made it mandatory or encouraged their employees to work from home when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020. Only 55% of businesses had offered some form of remote work to their staff before that.

More than half a year down the line, it is safe to say that most employers are starting to find their groove with this new work set-up. However, things are far from perfect, as there are challenges to working from home as well. Besides the lack of physical contact with employees, many are not equipped with a viable workspace in their homes free from distractions or lightning-fast internet.

As employers, it also falls on your hands to make sure your subordinates are at their best at work. Below are some of the ways in effectively managing employees so you can boost your remote team’s motivation for work.

[Infographic] 5 Rules of Thumb for Motivating Remote Employees Effectively

5 Rules of Thumb for Motivating Remote Employees Effectively

Keep your lines open

With people out of touch with their co-workers, it is vital to make your presence as a manager felt—in supportive ways, of course. A simple act of keeping communication lines open signifies that you are approachable and willing to discuss work-related stuff, and sometimes even personal things, with your team.

One way to do this is to dedicate at least an hour each week and catch up with your direct reports or ask them if they have anything to bring up, whether about their workload or a teammate. You can also set up monthly anonymous surveys about work concerns that they may be too shy to bring up regarding your management style personally.

Your people handling skills will come in handy here, effectively working with the range of personalities present in your team. Lead by example and reach out to them if needed, even if it is just to ask how they are doing. Little things like this can go a long way when everyone is feeling isolated or disconnected from their officemates.

Read more: 8 Archetypes of Difficult Employees and How Leaders Deal With Them

Monitor results, not hours worked

With most businesses shifting to a remote working model, they have turned to time-trackers to supervise their employees from home. While this is not always a bad thing, this can get suffocating or is borderline unnecessary if an employee is frequently policed over work hours even if he/she is showing good results.

Instead of fuelling the mandatory 8-hour workday narrative, it is much more productive to focus on the employee’s career and job-specific goals. This way, they can be motivated to take steps to reach those goals—whether it is bagging a promotion in six months or surpassing a benchmark in their role—and worry less about feeling watched or micromanaged.

Hours matter only to an extent, but they should not be the sole focus. If an employee is not meeting deadlines or showing poor performance, that will be the best time to sit down with them to resolve the issue.

Respect employee boundaries

A huge part of employee burnout is feeling overworked. This does not just mean overloading your team with tasks that they might not be able to handle anymore, but also sending work-related messages beyond office hours, on weekends, or even when they are on leave.

Working from home has blurred personal boundaries for most, making different roles crash in the same 8-hour workday, like being a parent, sibling, child, business owner, caretaker, and more. Reminding yourself to send that DM on a day when the employee is in or maybe email it instead can help ease them from the pressure of replying.

Have a system in place that indicates whether an employee is present for the day, either via chat status or calendar updates. Before you think of hitting send, make sure to check those channels first.

Read more: COVID19 PANDEMIC: How Self-Care Matters When We WFH

Plan engagement activities

Work culture thrives on regular get-togethers and even after-work gatherings. With remote work and the pandemic still lurking, the latter is impossible. Fortunately, the former can be converted into virtual parties that you can plan for your team for the sake of old times.

If you are running out of ideas, you can always ask your team what they would be interested in doing. It could be a game where prizes await winners, or something as chill as a Netflix party, streaming the same movie together with company-shipped snacks and drinks.

While this is far from how things probably were, it is still a better alternative than having your employees grind endlessly without injecting fun throughout the workdays.

Read more: Strong Leadership in the 21st Century: 10 Skills to Influence Office Culture and Change

Show appreciation for team efforts

Recognizing the fruits of your team members’ labor can brighten their day. This could be a simple email that congratulates them on a work well done, or even a quarterly “recognition rites” to highlight the fantastic work they have been doing over the past few months.

Appreciation can come a long way, and it validates your employees’ efforts in what they do. Your management approaches should be positive and nurturing, so they feel more empowered and strive to do more in their job.

Good Management Makes a Difference

Your management style can directly influence how your employee performs at work. The responsibility of helping them stay productive during office hours falls on your shoulders, too.

If you need inspiration on how to establish this for your company, consider joining Guthrie-Jensen’s virtual seminar on Working Remotely Productively. Learn how to provide better work communication, increase online work productivity, and more.

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