A survey from 2018 indicated that some 70% of all U.S. employees worked outside the office at least one day per week. More than 50% worked remotely for half the week. All of that was before coronavirus. Now, new estimates suggest that as much as 25% of the workforce will be working remotely, full-time, by 2025. It is a new world out there. A remote world with challenges all its own.
As a business owner or manager, your biggest challenge moving forward may be motivating those remote employees. Working remotely is an entirely different experience that requires an entirely different management style. Furthermore, it is going to take a while to learn and adapt.
In light of that, here are some tips for motivating your employees in the new remote world:
Maintain Open Lines of Communication
Communicating effectively can be tough when everyone is at the office. Remotely, it can be even more difficult. It is imperative, especially now, that companies with remote employees make every effort to maintain open lines of communication. Those lines should be utilized daily, at the very least.
It is best not to limit communicating to a single platform. Multiple platforms maximize opportunities to communicate based on needs and preferences. We recommend video calling/conferencing software alongside email, real-time chat, and even traditional phone calls.
Keep the Mood Light
Communicating with remote employees doesn't always have to be a sobering experience. In fact, it probably shouldn't be. Communicating remotely can nudge us into the habit of being all business, all the time. But that is not the way we interact with one another at the office. Before the pandemic, office conversations were peppered with small talk and humor. Even the most serious of topics were somewhat lightened by talking about the kids or discussing weekend plans.
All of this is to say that it is important to keep the mood light when communicating with remote employees. Being all business all the time only makes communicating stressful. Employees will avoid it when they can.
Provide the Right Tools
Nothing is more demotivating than being expected to complete one's work without having the right tools to do so. For instance, imagining a building contractor handing one of his workers a shovel and telling him to dig out the foundation for a new house. How long will that employee be motivated to dig?
Working remotely often requires tools that were not necessary in the office. Make sure your people have those tools. Otherwise, two things will happen: they will have difficulty completing their tasks and they will be increasingly less motivated to do so.
Make Room for Feedback
One of the most effective ways to motivate any group of people is to make room for feedback. When everyone feels they have a voice, they are more likely to make their voices heard. That's a good thing. When teams of employees talk about things productively, they encourage and motivate one another.
Always remember that feedback works in both directions. You want to offer feedback to your employees. They should be able to reciprocate. They should also be encouraged to give one another feedback.
It would appear as though permanent remote work is here to stay. For employers, the shift to remote work means rethinking how business is done. It means figuring out how to help employees be the best they can be even though they are no longer coming to the office. Motivation is key. If you can learn to motivate a remote workforce, you can make the best of the new working world we now find ourselves in.