How to Motivate Your Remote Team: 7 Simple Strategies
By November 2020, 87% of UK businesses had shifted to some sort of remote working. During the pandemic, teams had to learn to quickly adapt to remote working - with all of the challenges and benefits it brings.
One of the main issues with remote working is that it can be isolating and cause anxiety. 54% of people in a recent survey by Breeze said remote work anxiety makes them feel exhausted and have difficulty sleeping. This can lead to employee wellbeing going downhill. The post-pandemic shift to remote working has come with huge benefits, such as cutting down a daily commute and encouraging a better work-life balance. However, companies need to ensure new procedures are put in place to protect employee motivation and connectivity.
New Verve has been a remote-first company since the pandemic and we have started some initiatives to encourage our employees to connect and reduce the isolation that is common with remote work. Here are our top seven strategies to ensure motivation and camaraderie are kept up by our remote teams.
1. Keep Check on Employee Wellbeing
Wellbeing is an important aspect of any working environment, whether it’s remote or not. It’s hard finding the energy to do anything when feeling low; if work is contributing to the feeling then it can often be the last straw in terms of motivation.
At New Verve, we strive to create an open environment that nurtures wellbeing conversations. Our team acknowledges the fact that working from home for long periods of time can increase anxiety and stress. This was something we paid particular attention to during the pandemic and have continued to improve upon.
Remote working has a plethora of benefits and works amazingly for a lot of people. It grants flexibility and can give you more time back by removing a daily commute. However, it also makes it easier for teams and individuals to keep quiet if they are struggling.
By recognising this we, at New Verve, have several programmes in place to prevent our team from feeling isolated. Just because we are a remote-first company, doesn’t mean our team is alone. We understand that these feelings have to be tackled together, we just do it virtually.
One way our team can connect with others is through a monthly 1-2-1 they have with their manager. These meetings offer a safe space to discuss what is going well for the employee, how they’re doing and if anything can be done to help them more. They are more personal than our other social activities and ensure each individual at New Verve gets the support they need. They are a time to discuss working, ambitions, progression, and any changes we could be making that an individual has been thinking about.
Pulse surveys are another way we monitor wellbeing at New Verve. They are anonymous questionnaires that allow the team to give feedback. They only take a short time to complete and are crucial to making company-wide improvements. It also is a process which shows that employees are being listened to and that change will be implemented where possible to offer more support and create a better environment and workplace.
2. Appoint a Wellbeing Champion and Set an Agenda
Our Marketing Executive, Lauren Learmond, also holds the position of Wellness Champion and does a brilliant job at fostering an open space to encourage team communication. She signposts resources to the wider team and creates frequent wellbeing newsletters. These include top tips, suggestions on how to balance work, and information on wellness.
We have a continual internal marketing plan that aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and raise awareness. It is important to communicate regularly to create an open and honest atmosphere. We also have clear objectives and roadmaps for how we want our company’s well-being to progress.
By creating a positive culture and setting out a programme of activities for the year we believe we can create a motivating environment for our remote team. We have a range of events set up from wellbeing days to knowledge hubs which are solely for the purpose of our employee’s health.
One of the knowledge hubs we use is Perkbox. It has an entire section dedicated to both mental and physical wellbeing. It offers a variety of activities such as meditations that fit into the work day, workouts and talking therapy.
It is part of a healthy work culture to reassure employees that discussing mental and physical health issues is important and ok. Communication is key, it may seem cliche but it certainly rings true in the workplace. There is nothing worse than feeling like you have to perform when you are not mentally and physically capable. Often employees may feel like the workload they have is above the capacity they can withhold and this can create issues with people feeling able to take leave when they need it or cope with the stress they may feel.
This is where another two of the New Verve values come into play: ‘Keep an open mind’ and ‘Collaborate as one diverse team’. By striving for these goals, teams are aware that they need to listen, respect and understand the views and needs of their teammates. It also ensures that individuals in their teams share feedback. This is crucial in fostering an open environment and encouraging our employees to be honest about how they are coping and feeling.
3. Earn Trust
The presenteeism of the digital age and remote working has now, more than ever, brought forth a culture of ‘always being on’. The idea that it is crucial to constantly be at your computer, your monitors, and your phone is impractical and unworkable. The pressure to be ‘online’ and ‘present’ creates a dichotomy whereby the pressure and stress to be constantly productive leads to fast burnout and an unpleasant environment.
Remote team working sometimes causes assumptions that less work will get done and more dog walking, gardening and sunbathing will be taking place. This incorrect stereotype means that employers put pressure on their employees to be ‘always on’, creating a culture of out-of-hours requests, check-up phone calls, and calendar monitoring. These publicised thoughts on working from home are leading to a vicious circle of mistrust and doubt. In actual fact, the Microsoft Surface, Work Smarter to Live Better survey found that 52% of people surveyed who work from home end up working longer hours and taking fewer breaks. Roughly a third of participants also felt the pressure to be twice as productive when working from home.
Trust must be at the epicentre of the solution to this problem. Without trust, employees can feel deflated and exhausted. Productivity is not an objective concept, different people achieve success and productivity in different ways. Recognising that different people work differently empowers employees to play to their strengths and perform at their best.
‘Earn trust with transparency’ is one of our main values at New Verve. Promoting trust in the workplace can enrich both the company’s output and the employee’s well-being and motivation. Focusing on output rather than time spent working allows teams to focus on the bigger picture and gives an updated view on measuring project success. At New Verve, we operate on flexible hours because we understand that some people function better in the evening or in the morning, or they may have childcare responsibilities to work around. We believe it is the process of trusting your employees that allows successful work patterns to form.
4. Give your Team the Expert Tools they Need
Equipping your team with the tools they need to do their job to the best of their ability may seem obvious but it is something that can be easily overlooked if transitioning from a physical office to a remote office.
At New Verve, we use Atlassian tools. They are ideal for organising, keeping communication channels open and ensuring everyone knows what is going on. Here is just a brief rundown of just two of the main Atlassian products we use:
Jira is the ultimate work management tool and offers brilliant features for Agile teams; from Scrum boards to roadmaps and REST APIs Jira is a star of a product. We use it to help our teams complete their projects from planning to assigning and reporting work. It is ideal for versatile companies as many different teams can reap the benefits of Jira’s ticket management system. Marketing teams to Products teams are able to use the Jira tickets to monitor and manage a host of different projects. A huge benefit of Jira is that it allows an organisation to deliver collaborative yet clear service experiences across all teams.
Confluence is a great tool in terms of remote team motivation. There is nothing more frustrating than having to jump between tabs and apps to find the information you need. With Confluence, you’re able to create, organise and collaborate your team’s knowledge in one space. This benefits your team by simplifying engagement and authenticity at work. It also increases motivation and independence as individuals can easily access the information and Runbooks they need to complete a task. With Confluence as your tool, your team can make quick decisions, gain focus and achieve more as a team.
These tools are complex and are able to do many different things, it’s what makes them so great. It’s good to remember that if you use these tools properly they will provide many benefits.
5. Strive to Create a Learning Environment
An Udemy report found that the main reason people feel deflated and bored at work is because of the lack of opportunities to learn new skills. This is a huge problem and can affect all areas of the workplace from teamwork and engagement to employee retention. However, enablement and learning are great solutions to boredom and demotivation. 80% of people said that learning new skills would increase their engagement in the workplace.
It is a great feeling to know you are getting better at your job, growing professionally and adding value to your work. At New Verve we operate on a 4+1 working week whereby one day a week is set aside for learning. Enablement allows a team and individuals to perform their roles to the best of their ability and enhances overall team output.
Enablement can take place in many forms, there are paid courses, certifications and mentor meetings. It’s good to set up a meeting with managers to discuss employees’ enablement plans for the month and to set an action plan for how they will be achieved. It opens up another channel of communication between managers and employees about how they feel in their job role and what action can be taken to make it better.
Learning is all about taking action and getting stuck in. It is a rewarding experience and something we have found at New Verve, to be an integral part of our working week. It is enriching for both personal and company growth.
6. Create Routine Virtual Catch Ups
Ensuring the team feel connected and are able to form relationships with the people they work with is so important. Not only is this important for employee wellbeing but for teamwork and efficiency too.
Remote team working, as we’ve covered, can be isolating. There has to be a focus on catching up with your colleagues and giving a set time and place to do so. New Verve has a system whereby we encourage catch-up calls and check-ins.
One of the ways this is facilitated is through Donut. Donut is a Slack-integrated application that randomly pairs up employees from across the company every two weeks to set up a social call. This means that there is an allocated time in everyone’s schedule to catch up with a colleague and have a chat. It is a great way to allow the team to get to know each other on a different level from professional meetings and also reduces the feelings of loneliness remote team work can sometimes produce.
So, how do we replicate ‘the water cooler meetings’ virtually? There are also regular socials that are built into the work schedule. These are a time for informal chats between colleagues and enable strong working relationships to be built. Wednesdays consist of a game social for an hour in the afternoon. The games are fun, spark conversation and allow everyone to see how others work and think. Similarly, on Fridays, there is an afternoon call where people can discuss how they’re doing and any upcoming weekend or holiday plans they have. The socials are a way of maintaining a social, ‘watercooler vibes’ aspect to remote working and help reduce isolation.
7. Show Recognition
Team and individual recognition is a sure way to increase motivation and show appreciation. When your employees are working hard and producing results it’s important to let them know that the company has recognised their efforts and hard work. It is also always special when other team members recognise this and give praise. It makes you feel as though your hard work has been worthwhile and you are a respected part of the team and not just a cog in the machine.
Just one of the ways we do this is through the Perkbox shoutout system. This is where every month employees can show their recognition for other teams and individuals that they believe deserve some praise.
It’s easy to give recognition virtually through a shout-out on Slack, Perkbox or by scheduling a call to let your team members know their work is appreciated. It takes very little effort to let people know and can make a huge difference to someone’s day.
If you want to find out more about our services and how we can help you set up Atlassian tools for in-person and remote teams, check out our website.
Interested in our remote working structure? Read The Importance of Work-Life Balance While Working Remotely.