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Daniel Danilov, Team Lead & Hiring at Automattic, discusses how his business keeps team members motivated through growth and learning opportunities.To hear more from this webinar discussion from Klaus and Support Driven, click here.
If your teams have shifted to remote work setups in the face of COVID-19, you’re in plenty of company. Many businesses that were deemed “nonessential” had no choice but to send their workers home if they wanted to keep the work going.
And while this is a far better situation to be in than having to shut down altogether, it’s not without its challenges.
One of the biggest hurdles is learning how to keep employees engaged and motivated while they’re not in the office. Tasks may be harder to complete when working from home. It’s easy to lose sight of purpose. And without easy access to development opportunities, potential can decline.
Put these tips into practice to strengthen your team from afar and position each employee to weather the pandemic storm together.
Focus on Communication
Communicating in the office is easy: just dial an extension or venture over to someone’s desk and start talking. Technically, you could do the same from home, but there are a couple of things to be aware of.
First, you never know when another teammate is busy—you could be pulling their focus from something important, and constant interruptions like this can kill productivity. And second, you may not get an immediate response.
There are a lot of moving parts to effective remote communication, and it’s too essential to leave to chance. Start by choosing a platform to facilitate your communications, then make sure team members know how to use it. This could be a rapid-fire channel like Slack or something more project-oriented like Basecamp.
The most important thing is to make sure every person has access to it and makes it their go-to for asking questions or staying in the loop. Otherwise, you risk some people feeling disconnected from the rest of the group.
Åsa Nyström, VP of Customer Advocacy at Buffer, shares ways her remote team frequently syncs up to stay connected. To hear more from this webinar discussion from Klaus and Support Driven, click here.
Conduct Peer Check-Ins
Having coworkers connect with each other can help foster a sense of team community. For example, you might pair up coworkers each week and require them to check in on each other once per day. Ask them to talk about things other than work so they can get to know each other. This can help build trust and camaraderie and make the workday more enjoyable.
Invest in Professional Development
One critical piece of any job that often falls by the wayside in remote work environments is the lack of access to professional development. In the office, there are usually several mentors available that can provide additional training or guidance when needed. Management can also better recognize opportunities for ongoing development.
This is easily overlooked in a remote workforce, however, so make it a point to continue investing in your team. Doing so not only recognizes the value of employees’ contributions but can also give them hope for the future. The shift to remote work may be temporary, at least in part, and allowing them to continue improving their skills can help them maintain a sense of purpose during these trying times.
Continue to Recognize a Job Well Done
Sometimes, a simple “thank you” or recognition for hard work can go a long way to encourage employees to do their best, even in unique circumstances. In fact, a recent report found that lack of recognition is the third most common reason why employees say they leave companies. An 82% majority said they wished their managers would recognize them more often.
Call out your employees when they meet tough deadlines, tackle important tasks, discover something new, or help out a teammate. Send them a card or a small care package to surprise them. Recognition makes them feel valued, plus it can motivate others to follow their lead.
Prioritize Goal Setting and Productivity Tracking
We covered ways to track productivity in a recent blog post, but it’s worth repeating here. Too often, remote teams can lose track of days, times, and deadlines because they’re not on a normal schedule. Maybe some of them are working different hours due to new home obligations.
However, maintaining some semblance of a schedule can help keep teams on track and moving toward objectives. Document progress so that each team member can see what’s been done, what’s being worked on, and what’s left to complete. Making your activities visible can help each person better manage their own time and responsibilities.
Also, don’t forget to follow up with team members when they meet goals or are starting to fall behind. Follow-up is a huge part of accountability that will keep everyone on the same page.
Ask for Feedback
Last but not least, strong leaders should continue to ask for feedback from employees. There’s no way to know if they’re struggling remotely unless they speak up, and some may not know how to ask for help. Asking for specific feedback can help surface problems before they become larger issues and create a better experience for all.