Motivation is obviously a huge factor in a team’s productivity and success. But when you’re managing a team remotely, how do you help them maintain that same edge that they once had when in a physical office?
The Tricky Side of Remote Work
Researchers Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi have dedicated years of their professional lives to studying remote work and our relationship with it (as individuals, professionals, and businesses). In one of their crowning studies, they surveyed more than 20,000 professionals around the world and analyzed 50 major corporations. They conducted a variety of experiments to understand how remote working impacts issues like motivation. And the results were pretty eye-opening.
“When we measured the total motivation of people who worked from home versus the office, we found that working from home was less motivating,” McGregor and Doshi write. “Even worse, when people had no choice in where they worked, the differences were enormous. Total motivation dropped 17 points, the equivalent of moving from one of the best to one of the most miserable cultures in their industries.”
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of motivation, but it’s really the foundational cornerstone of productivity, job satisfaction, and performance. And just as a motivated employee can take your business to new heights, an unmotivated employee can suck the energy directly out of your organization.
4 Tips for Keeping People Motivated
Once you understand the importance of motivation, you can switch gears to focusing on the specifics of how to keep your remote team members motivated in their specific roles. Here are several suggestions:
1. Give Your Team a Say
As the aforementioned survey shows, motivation drops a whopping 17 percent when people have no choice in where they work. So anything you can do to give team members a choice over where they work is going to provide a big boost.
If your team is entirely remote and there’s no option to work in a traditional office, consider giving team members a choice between working from home and getting slightly higher pay or having a coworking space membership comped by the company and getting slightly lower pay. Even this small choice makes a big difference in motivation.
2. Set Competitive Benchmarks
Competitive individuals thrive when they have something specific to reach for (and especially if there’s a reward attached to meeting the goal). That’s why we recommend setting benchmarks for almost every aspect of your business.
Take customer satisfaction and loyalty as an example. Rather than just telling your team to keep customers happy, attach a number to it. Use Net Promoter Score software to collect and analyze data. Based on your benchmark number, you can set NPS goals each quarter. If the goal is met, the entire team gets some sort of reward. (This could be a monetary bonus, or it could be a non-monetary perk like a half-day on the last Friday of the month.)
3. Encourage Teamwork
One of the biggest problems with remote working is the lack of camaraderie. There’s no longer an opportunity to rub shoulders with people in the hallway or grab lunch with coworkers. This can lead some individuals – particularly extroverted ones – to feel drained and unmotivated. But this issue can be (partially) overcome by encouraging teamwork on remote projects. You can do this by hosting virtual team bonding exercises or even just requiring video Zoom meetings instead of phone calls.
4. Offer Recognition and Encouragement
According to The Future of Work is Human Report that surveyed more than 2,700 American professionals in the workplace, 79 percent of people say recognition makes them work harder. Unfortunately, we as managers and business owners often come up woefully short in our responsibility to bestow praise when it’s due.
The great thing about recognition and encouragement is that they don’t cost you anything other than a few minutes of your time. When you see an employee doing good work, let them know how much you appreciate them. This alone will motivate them to continue working hard.
Set Your Remote Team Up for Success
Every individual responds differently to remote work. Some people are incredibly introverted yet self-motivated and will thrive in a looser remote setting. Other people are extremely extroverted and/or need more direction and micro-management (these individuals will have a tendency to struggle.)
All you can do is make intelligent and proactive decisions that set your team up to be successful. And if you learn how to motivate each “type” of employee you have, you’ll get better results.