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Motivation of remote teams: 9 essential tips that every leader should know

The motivation of remote teams is an essential topic. If you have faced the need to coordinate your team remotely I’m sure, you too, are experiencing this dilemma.

While facing the collective commotion of this pandemic, people have to drastically change their relationship with professional activities. The show must go on, after all, the economy must keep turning, citizens need to guarantee their jobs, etc.

In this article, we reflect on this. You will see what discourages professionals working remotely and get tips on how to boost their morale and promote well-being in order to stay productive.

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What is remote work and how to do it efficiently?

Remote work is a style of work that allows professionals to perform tasks outside of a traditional office environment. It is based on the concept that professional activities do not need to be carried out in a specific location to be performed successfully.

Usually, this is more applicable for activities carried out using digital tools, via the internet, but it can also be useful for those who deliver products, or parts of manufactured products. This even applies to some types of services. In other words, remote work happens when there is no need to be within the four walls of a company.

Think of it this way: instead of going to an office every day to work from a designated desk, remote employees can execute their projects and exceed their goals wherever they are. They can work from home, go to coworking spaces, etc.

In theory, people have the flexibility to design their days so that their lives, both professional and personal, can be experienced to their full potential and coexist peacefully. In practice, they often need to follow a pace designated by their managers, but undeniably, they have more flexibility than their usual Monday to Friday punch in routines.

 Check out our ebook, “Remote Work: the complete guide”.

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What are the main demotivators for remote work

Even though remote work has its benefits there is a learning curve. That is why more and more leaders are looking for ways to motivate remote teams.

Take a look at the main demotivators for remote work:

Traditional leader mindset

Leadership that acts as if it were in a traditional work environment is very demotivating for remote teams. This is seen when there is an excess of communication and meetings, via web applications like WhatsApp or Zoom, where people feel monitored.

Leaders must update their mindset by granting autonomy and trust. It is important to exercise a decentralization of power and focus on goals and well-organized deliveries.

Communication difficulties

Not being able to communicate with leaders and staff in general also causes discouragement for those who work remotely. That’s because, as humans, we are social beings, and we need to give and get feedback on a regular basis.

It’s important to moderate yourself and create a balance so that communication is not excessive. Also, everyone has different communication styles so it’s important to talk to your team members and set up some general principles.

Not having the right technology

In the era of cloud computing, not having the digital tools to carry out your activities and communicate is unacceptable.

Leadership that demands results but does not provide the proper systems, applications, and equipment necessary to carry out activities tends to see its team unengaged and even boycott strategic planning.

Difficulties in feeling part of a team

Working remotely also tends to reinforce people’s loneliness. Often, they feel forgotten, not appreciated, and even undervalued. Camaraderie is essential in the workplace and team members want to share their victories and even the failures of each day. Without that, it can be demotivating.

Not having a “third party place”

Another fundamental point to note is that we all need “third party places” to have a full life. This well-respected theory is from the American sociologist Ray Oldenburg.

To Oldenburg, people divide their social life into three “places” including home a place of intimacy, work where professional skills are performed, and exclusively social places bars, restaurants, parks, etc.

During this pandemic, where social confinement is mandatory, it is normal for people to feel that part of their life has been suppressed, that their freedom has been cut. And if the work done remotely is also not stimulating, there tends to be a large drop in productivity.

 Read also: 6 tips for successful remote work management.

Here are our 9 essential tips for motivating your remote teams that every leader should know about:

1. Set realistic goals

Avoid overloading your team with goals that are impossible to achieve. Try to strike a balance between challenging professionals to maintain healthy productivity and encouraging them to overcome what was requested.

Include people in planning your goals. That way, you’ll have instant feedback if you’re overreaching or underestimating your team’s capabilities.

2. Be a present leader and give the support your team needs

Decentralize power by placing yourself as a facilitating leader. People need to feel that they can turn to you when they are in doubt or need help. Without this, you will only be notified of a problem when it’s too late.

Reach a golden ratio between making yourself present without being overbearing. Rely on the capacity and autonomy of your coworkers. You will see that they will be more motivated with freedom than with excessive control.

3. Plan and manage team demands

Avoid distributing chores without proper planning. Measure people’s individual capabilities and assign tasks that they are actually capable of. You will see that this planning will also help you in managing demands.

After all, what is not planned is also very difficult to track and collect. Use technology to your advantage; excellent task planning and management tools are available – some are even free.

4. Set deadlines for deliverables

Likewise, it is very important that the team, as a whole, and each member know exactly what they have to deliver and on what dates. Motivating remote teams requires a lot of organization and also detailed scheduling.

Use tools that people can access at any time to remember the deadlines for each activity. And preferably, make the schedule a prior agreement, this will improve engagement and people will not feel unfairly burdened.

5. Have daily monitoring of alignment and motivation

Do daily monitoring that doesn’t “suffocate” your team members. You can, for example, set up collective meetings via facetime so that people can explain what they have accomplished, what difficulties they have encountered and even how they have solved problems, which will help them learn from each other and disseminate information.

This is widely used in agile software development methods, such as Scrum, which are increasingly being incorporated into projects and teams in varied functions and fields of activity.

6. Encourage communication between the team

Deliver communication tools but also work on reminding people that they must communicate. You can do this by merging individual and collective goals, which will help team building and encourage professionals to keep in touch.

In remote work, people are very likely to become more individualistic and at the same time, saddened by loneliness. Avoid this by encouraging healthy communication and events that don’t have to do directly with work. This can include virtual lunch breaks, happy hours, etc.

7. Have the same hours as your team

The flexibility of remote work is really incredible. However, it’s important to arrange a regular time when your team members will always find you online to give and receive feedback, exchange experiences, and ask for help. 

There is nothing more unpleasant than seeking help from a boss who is not available, especially when you need to make a decision that requires input above your pay grade.

8. Present the results that your team achieved weekly

Another fundamental point is the weekly presentation of the results obtained by the team. Usually, this is done on Fridays but if you like to live dangerously, you can gather your team to present results on Monday, which will help your team start the week motivated (assuming you accomplished a lot the week before).

In any case, create this routine, as teams tend to be much more united and engaged when they understand how individual efforts are contributing to the group’s results.

9. Collect and provide feedback

Finally, don’t forget the effect of hindsight on people’s motivation! Get and provide honest feedback periodically. Some leaders use the result presentation meeting to give feedback to the team, others prefer to hold a separate meeting for this.

Test and choose what works best for your team. Just don’t forget that when they don’t know exactly how their efforts are perceived, people tend to feel down and easily discouraged. Also, when you’re exchanging feedback ensure you’re being as sincere and cordial as possible especially during these times when you don’t know what another person and their family are going through. It’s important to always lead with empathy. 

How about it, have you already considered the importance of motivating remote teams? What did you think about our tips?