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How to Motivate Your Team While Working Remotely

How to Motivate Your Team While Working Remotely_Yellow Spark Blog
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

How to Motivate Your Team While Working Remotely

The overall working sentiment is low, and every manager has a looming challenge of how to motivate employees while working remotely? The coronavirus scare has forced businesses and ordinary citizens to limit interaction and maintain social distance. Managers now have to do everything they otherwise did in the office, at home. Many corporates are grappling with a new normal of working from home and it appears this is going to be for a sustained period. While India’s growing millennial population has always advocated the idea of work-from-home and remote engagement, for many others, work-from-home is a largely untested idea.

Given the rise of GenX and millennials in the workforce, it’s difficult to keep them engaged, especially when working remotely. However, the work from the home situation does demand special preparation and as managers and leaders, we need to equip ourselves to handle remotely working employees and enable them to be productive, engaged and motivated.

Here’s how you can effectively motivate remote employees and foster high morale:

1. Convey trust to your employees

I’m certain you have experienced ‘doubt’ when your team member asked to work from home before. Nothing wrong in feeling so, it’s natural because we are not used to getting work done without supervision. This being said, like it or not, everyone has to work-from-home now and the most basic expectation of your employee when working remotely is – Trust. They want you to believe that they will do what it takes to get the work done. While some may have experienced work from home, many are working from home for the first time; which means figuring out how to stay on task in a new environment that may not lend itself to productivity. Parents, for example, will find working harder if children are at home because schools are closed, meaning close communication with managers – who will need to be understanding – is vital.

As managers, your roles just evolved a little bit more. Watch out for common mistakes that manager make and begin with showing consideration, offering ideas to set up appropriate work stations, offering flexible hours (as an employee may even be burdened with managing household chores at the moment), expressing understanding and most importantly conversing with your team often will all convey your trust in the employee. While doing so, keep in mind, you need to be understanding but also assertive.

What should you not do? Don’t keep very tight deadlines.

2. Crank up the communication

As managers, this could be your first time managing people virtually. Under normal circumstances most of your team spends their days in office, nearby, making it easier to communicate quickly, easily and effortlessly. A quick shout out might be enough to pass along an update. But that’s all out of the window with remote work, and communication breakdown is even more likely if your organisation has never before worked remotely. Even for those accustomed to it, working from home can feel unstructured in current times.

Well Coronavirus or not, the key to working from home is clear communication. Telling the team exactly what is expected of them and when. Have clear-set expectations, prepare schedules, let them know when you will be available and ensure you take ownership for communications daily. Offer to do a quick 10-minute call to kick off the day and to wrap up the day. This keeps expectations aligned and you can ensure business goes on more or less as usual.

What should you not do? Don’t over-communicate or use multiple platforms to give the same message.

3. Help the team create a routine

While you take frequent updates on how the team is settling, check if they need any help with getting on track. Be aware that not having a well-equipped home office space when employees begin remote working can cause a temporary decrease in productivity. Take the time to tell your teams to stick to the daily routine as far as possible. Encourage your teams to treat it like any other day as it will help stay productive.

Advice your team to set some boundaries, they serve as an important signal to those who live with you that you’re ‘at work’. For example – ‘when the door is closed, pretend I’m not there,’ can be one of the many boundaries they can set. Especially those who live in bigger or joint families or currently have young children. Help them draw up priorities so that they can be more focused. Agree with them on what might be the best time for the entire team to connect so that everyone is involved rather than forced to be present.

What should you not do? Don’t be rigid.

4. Tell them you are not alone

“The coronavirus is pushing everyone into this kind of extreme working from home,” says Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford University in California who’s given TED Talks about remote work. Even with technology, the enforced and abrupt nature of the transition from an office to a home environment could leave some struggling to get accustomed to the change. With coronavirus, it’s not clear how long people will be at home, which poses additional problems. Prolonged isolation could also potentially impact morale as much as it affects productivity.

As managers, you should try to normalize things as much as possible. Try to display support and camaraderie in unconventional ways, like virtual pizza parties or remote happy hours where people dial in and share a conversation on Slack or Skype. It’s a good way to bond – it’s kind of weird, but everyone’s feeling weird, so it’s fun BECAUSE “we’re all in this together”. It adds a little bit of lightness to the otherwise difficult environment.

Acknowledging that even though you are their boss, you to are facing the same challenges will bring a lot of psychological relief among your team members. Remember, unity is what is going to make us all sail through these tough times.

What should you not do? Don’t be demanding.

5. Take charge to keep spirits up

Do not stop celebrating birthdays, giving public praise for goals reached and projects completed. Especially in times like these using engagement platforms are a great way to connect and give people a feeling that they are not alone and everyone is still working towards the common company goals. It also fosters a healthy work spirit and people don’t completely slide into the work-from-home slump.

As a manager, take the lead to provide clear communication and to keep up morale. It’s easy to be stressed out or depressed these days. But the role of a good manager is to acknowledge that there’s stress and NOT ADD TO IT. Your job is to be a cheerleader for the team. Don’t treat ‘work from home’ as a free pass to ask for constant updates, under the pretext of keeping high spirits. You might just earn the resentment of your team and co-workers.

Be the positivity beacon, share inspiring stories or quotes, make personal calls for appreciation, send out a personal note to your team member, or find your way to ensure your teams’ spirits remain high.

What should you not do? Don’t discourage fun ideas.

Times are tough, but so are we! Let’s not treat this as a setback. Let’s take this time to pause, reset and reboot and come back stronger. Let’s fight, survive and come out as a stronger team!


Yellow Spark understands the uncertainties of the current times and can help you develop a non-monetary RnR (reward and recognition) plan to keep your employees motivated and engaged. To get started, reach out to us on contact@yellowspark.in

About the author: This article is conceptualised by Yellow Spark and first published on the Let’ Buzzz blog. Let’s Buzzz is a comprehensive reward and social recognition product designed for both small and large enterprises. To know more about Let’s Buzzz or to get a demo click here.