What to expect from the blog:
- Why is remote employees motivation important?
- What drives motivation?
- Why is motivating your remote employees difficult?
- What issues arise if remote employees are not inspired?
- How do remote employees really feel?
- 15 attractive ways to boost remote employees motivation
- Offer health benefits
- Show you care
- Provide best tools for remote workers
- Secure remote tools
- Extend innovative incentives
- Prioritize human capital
- Show your face
- Give importance to employee feedback
- Use communication as the key
- Don’t be afraid to experiment
- Follow global trends
- Show faith in your employees
- Challenge employees’ abilities
- Organise virtual team building activities
- Give remote employees some space
The onset of remote working
You and I both know what the world is going through right now with COVID-19 on its outbreak. With a pandemic going on, I cannot go to my office to write this blog post. Similarly, you cannot commute to your workplace without risking your life (who knew, right?)
The majority (53%) of employees are in favour of telecommuting rather than conveying to their place of work. Both of us, have no choice but to conduct work from the comfort of our homes. While this sounded like fun at the beginning, now you know better.
Remote working is the only way to go now, and it changed the way I looked at work. I had never worked remotely before the nation went on lockdown. I am guessing the chances of you being priorly handy with the same are less as well. Since this method of working is new, people are still getting accustomed to it every day.
Why is it here to stay?
Remote working is the hot trend right now. This is a trend brought about not by people but by a pandemic, as bizarre as it may sound.
Additionally, many of your employees have gone back to their hometown. With a hindrance in transportation, it is not possible for them to come back to work in your company. To top it off, remote working goes hand in hand with the tech world. It lets you avail the latest technological updates from around the globe. Consequentially, remote working is not just the talk of the town for a few months. In fact, it is here to stay.
So your Human Resources team must make boosting remote working motivation an urgent priority. If the proven motivation techniques are not applied, the future of your business is at risk. But do not despair, I am going to demystify remote working motivation for you.
Before I jump to strategies for motivating your remote employees, it is necessary to discuss what is motivation. Motivation can be of two types – extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic refers to anything that is induced from outside. On the other hand, intrinsic motivation works completely inside a person’s mind. It is his perceptions that motivate him.
Extrinsic motivation can be further divided into the following types:
- Status: Spot awards, public announcements of achievements, etc.
- Access: Allowing access to top management (lunch with the CEO, etc.)
- Power: A bigger set of responsibilities/ budgets, more direct reports, etc.
- Stuff: Cash or other such perks
Intrinsic Motivation: There are 3 types of intrinsic motivation:
- Autonomy – Provide people freedom in doing work. A great case study is the 20% free time option at Google. In sum, specify the what, leave the “how” to the person’s discretion.
- Mastery – Show people how the job helps in improving individual skills.
- Purpose – Help people appreciate how the work matters. How it impacts others.
The extrinsic motivation revolves around Motivation 2.0. However, in 1949, Harry Harlow’s experiment showed that motivation could be attained without extrinsic factors. In these lines, it was later learnt that humans also have a third driving factor for motivation. This is Motivation 3.0 which embarks upon creation, learning, and changing the world for good. This third factor plays a role in remote employees motivation. If you want your team to get creative while they work from home, you have got to tap into their intrinsic needs. You cannot bribe them with money or perks. In fact, it might be doing more harm than good. Too much concentration on extrinsic motivation shifts the focus from the quality of work and creativity.
As of April 2020, studies show that 99.8% of the workforce in the IT sector is struggling at remote work. It is an eye-opener when you see that only 0.02% are capable of managing remote work from their home. Hence, remote working can turn out to be a bane if you do not create the perfect work from home policy. The main difficulties that may arise in remote working motivation are as follows:-
1. Communication Barrier
The first and foremost challenge of working remotely is in communication. This is a vital one. You need to put your best foot forward to overcome it. Communication is the key to get going with even the most mundane tasks at hand. You feel deprived of human communication, and so do your employees. Nothing beats face to face interaction, no matter how much of an updated technology you are using for those video conferences. Similarly, the duration of interaction with your employees has reduced significantly. As a result, it is difficult to go the extra mile to motivate them.
2. Technological Errors
You may also have to deal with technological issues. The more number of people you have on board, the chances of that happening automatically increases. Besides, you may schedule a meeting at say 9 A.M., but that might not be good with everyone on the team. So, now you have to wreck your brain to come up with a time that’s convenient for all. All of your remote employees have different patterns and times for working. They are all in various different mental and physical states. There is only so much you can virtually take care of to boost their morale.
The factor which shares a direct cause and effect relationship with lack of employee motivation is that of poor employee performances. Thereafter, if you don’t motivate your employees they will certainly lose the zest of working, especially now that they are in quarantine. It will not take long for them to turn into couch potatoes. Soon either they will quit working for you or you will fire them. Let’s face it, the loss will be mutual and devastating in today’s market. Even if they keep working at your company, demotivated employees will bring down the group morale. As a result, there will arise more disputes. On top it you will see a heap of unfinished projects resulting from diminished productivity. This will sink down your company.
I will be lying if I say that I never felt low in these trying times. It was especially during the first few weeks that I felt like I could not stay at home all day, every day. Moreover, coming to the right mindset for work was difficult. Your employees must be feeling the same way. Staying in isolation, and bereft of human contact can do a number on their mental health. Therefore, your employees’ mental health needs to be taken care of – if not you, who? Moreover, your employees might worry about not being able to meet deadlines, or losing their jobs as unemployment numbers are soaring. Reports say more than half of remote workers are suffering from mental health issues like depression or anxiety, in 2020.
Keeping in mind the trends and issues that may arise, here are a few hacks for you to motivate remote work.
The benefit that tops the charts in terms of employee preference is always health benefits. In order to keep your employees motivated, give them the perks of a health insurance which covers Corona Virus. If you will, go the extra mile by covering the insurance not just for them but their family too. This will portray your company’s adaptability to changing times while maintaining thoughtfulness towards the staff.
In these unforeseen times, make sure your employees receive health packages on a regular basis. A monthly basket containing sanitizer, masks, and gloves for the employee and his family can be a stepping stone.
Outdated and complicated software can be a source of demotivation for your employees. Additionally, they need to declutter to have a rejuvenated mindset to work. Help them achieve that digitally with the best tools for remote work.
Video conferencing, communication, and project management tools
Since video conference platforms are indispensable tools for remote working, you can install Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Additionally, for offline communication check out Slack or Google Hangouts. If you are looking for productivity tools for remote work, consider Jira, VersionOne, or PivotalTracker where you can keep a track of every project’s status. Also, Grammarly is a tool for remote workers to check grammatical errors.
Tools to manage attendance, leave, and employee engagement
To do this, provide anti-virus software for remote tools. After all, you don’t want your employees’ work to go in vain.
As the world has gone online, it’s time to lay down incentives on similar lines. Understand that your employees are at home with no physical entertainment. Add to their leisure time. Provide a month’s subscription to an online streaming service (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) to show appreciation for an employee’s diligence.
It is advisable that you install a Cloud HR software to create a one-stop destination for all things related to human capital. Here you can track your employees’ absent records, projects, and create a platform for their easy assessment. Tackling human capital efficiently will surely act in remote working motivation.
This may sound like an obvious one but is, in fact, one of the most important hacks. It is not enough to let your staff know about their work or deadlines over emails, texts, or voice calls. Make sure you schedule video calls on a periodic basis. While you are on the call, do not stick to just work-related topics. Also, ask your employees how they are coping up. Remind them that you’re there by their side. Moreover, Your words become more impactful if you say it face-to-face.
Listen to what your employees have to say. Hear out their demands, and try your best to fulfill them (if those are within reason). Your employees should not feel ordered, they should feel heard. Thus, break the one-way flow of assignments by asking them for valuable inputs regarding employee satisfaction.
Make them a living and breathing organ of the company. Share with them the needs of each assignment, explain why they are important. Give them a reason. People tend to be more efficient if they feel like they are working for a cause or towards a goal. Always feel free to make them suggest new ideas or methods.
You have been working in a traditional work environment. Your thinking outside the box has never demanded you to think out of the cubicle. In order to come up with new ideas for remote work, you have to master the art of unlearning. Try to leave aside the techniques you have learnt so far about motivating your employees. Similarly, push yourself to experiment every day. What if it does not work? Well, scrap it and experiment again tweaking the details according to your diverse employees’ needs. It’s okay to perform some trial and error in remote working motivation.
With the entire world on lockdown, online is the way to go. Every company is making its presence felt on the web. It’s time you start thinking global. Update yourself with what is happening not just around you, but all around the globe. Also, you will soon find that there is a lot to learn and there is an ocean of never-ending innovative ideas. So, what are you waiting for? Dive right in.
Making someone feel like they are trusted, can go a long way. Therefore, try to create a bond with your employees that go beyond deadlines. Try to delegate as much as you can. Show them that you have enough faith in their capabilities to complete the task at hand efficiently and punctually. After all, there is a reason you hired them in the first place, right?
Positive reinforcement is extremely important, but not enough. Your employees need to feel challenged often to still find their job interesting. So give them new kinds of work. Push them to work outside their comfort zone. Help your employees to become the best version of themselves. There is nothing better than overcoming new hurdles successfully to induce a sense of self-confidence.
Take out time once a month to engage them in a cheerful online office activity. Virtual games give a sense of belongingness among employees. Moreover, they boost morale and improve collaboration among remote employees. Further, virtual team building activities keeps remote teams engaged through meaningful fun. For instance, some of the games are listed below from teamactivators.com:
Get your team to create fragments of a musical piece. For example, beats, tunes, vocals, melodies, etc. Then club it all together to create one symphonized track.
Virtual sixty seconds
In this game, players have to be grouped into seperate teams. Subsequently, you have to assign tasks to each team which are to be completed within a minute. In every round, a different member of the team has to perform and the most scoring team wins.
Olympics at home
This team game will help build camaraderie as you set tasks for each group to be completed by team work.
This one is sure to be the best stress-buster. Get inspired from the Maori tribe, and engage employees in this legendary game.
As the name suggests, this game is all about knowledge and quick wits. If you want to test your remote employees’ knowledge by yet keeping it fun, this trivia is the way to go.
Impromptu shark tank
Who isn’t familiar with the show Shark Tank? But this is a fun twist on the popular show. Here employees need to make a sales pitch with available products.
Good advertisements interest everyone. Thus, this quiz is all about advertisements. To make it more fun, conduct it in the format of a typical game show.
Picture with props
Encourage your employees to make use of household items to form a picture. These items can be used as props or a setting to communicate through the photograph.
In this game the given scenario is that you and all the employees have been stranded in the middle of nowhere. Your ship is wrecked and employees need to rank how important available items are.
This works just like the process of actual film production. The teams need to produce scripts, and dialogues. They also need to act in, shoot, and edit the film, for which this may help.
Yes, you guessed it right. Here employees need to enact a particular scene from a movie or TV show. The twist is that they have to replace the original dialogues with their own ones.
Doodle contest is a fairly simple game. Employees have to doodle on a particular topic and then their art can be showcased virtually.
Here individuals have to create beats or tunes with household items. Thus, it is as fun as it sounds and provides much scope for creativity.
Fun name, isn’t it? So in this game employees need to make origami structures with a blindfold over their eyes.
In this trendy game, encourage your employees to create giphys. May the best GIF win.
Not will this game remind you of the classic bingo, but also it comes with a twist. Therefore, you can incorporate a bit of “never have I ever” to create the perfect bingo chart.
Lip sync war
You have seen Hollywood stars make everyone go gaga in the show Lip Sync Battle. But now it’s your turn to take a cue. Thus, play a popular song and watch how well your employees sync their lips to it.
This is a decision making game. Hence, you need to give employees a tough choice and see which option they choose.
Team spirit evolves when your employees know each other better. Thus, let them guess facts about each other. Furthermore, the one who guesses the most correct facts about others can be rewarded.
This is another impromptu game. Make someone start with just a sentence. Thereafter the next person has to continue the story with adding another line, and so forth.
Two truths and lie
In this guessing game, give your employees three statements. Thereafter, they have to guess which of the three is a lie.
You cannot let your staff off work when it’s convenient for you. A holiday should not feel forced. Thus, you should keep their preferences in mind when scheduling work hours or an off-day. Do not schedule casual video chats when they are not working. Furthermore, understand that nobody wants to be with their colleagues or bosses when they are not working.
There are various way to find out how motivated your employees are. At the end of the day, if they do not show any signs of positive change in their behaviour, all your efforts are going in vain. So I recommend you do a weekly check-up on whether your strategies are working. If not, you know what to do. Take up new strategies.
Quality measures of motivation success:
There are some simple ways to assess remote working motivation. Look out for the number of leaves they are taking, their punctuality at work, their willing interaction with other team members, and how often does an employee pitch ideas of his own. These are tell-tale signs of an employee’s genuine interest in his job.
Quantifiable measures of motivation success:
Coming to quantifiable measures, employee surveys are a proven way to go about it. But don’t make employee surveys too long. You don’t want to demotivate your remote employees while assessing their motivation. Opt to go the Harvard (Harvard Business Review) way while taking surveys which gives you a score of motivation by taking into account various factors and then calculating on them. You can also seek the help of Bradford Factor. It helps you to calculate the percentage of an employee’s satisfaction at your company with the following factors.
- Accounting for the number of days an employee was absent
- The number of individual periods where the employee wanted to take a leave (for example, if he took a leave for 3 days at once, it will be considered as one individual time when he took a leave)
To summarise, you have little option but to have remote employees on board. To know how to induce remote employee motivation, it is vital to know why remote working is the buzz word right now and how can be in on the trend. But motivating your remote employees while having no physical interaction with them can be a tricky one. For this, factors like health benefits, care packages, getting creative with technology, experimenting, and pushing your employees to outdo themselves every day, stand out as vital. There are also some additional points for you to keep in mind while hiring new remote employees. It is necessary that you check if your efforts are working. In conclusion, add your own ideas which are in accordance with the environment of your organisation. Make your own unique blend to encourage the strength of your company to strive for maximum efficiency, and gain boosted remote working motivation.
Not to be considered as tax, legal, financial or HR advice. Regulations change over time so please consult a lawyer, accountant or Labour Law expert for specific guidance.