For decades, businesses operated out of traditional office settings.
Employees worked next to each other. Impromptu meetings could be set.
Questions could be answered simply by asking the worker in the cubicle beside you.
As the workforce continues to reinvent itself, remote-first companies are quickly becoming the norm. This has turned the traditional workplace setting upside down, resulting in a new way of working for many employees.
It doesn’t matter if this change at your company is by design or due to external conditions. Many bosses have to re-learn how to manage their employees in a remote work setting.
Part of this is understanding how to keep their employees motivated when they only meet virtually.
In this post, we’ll outline the top five actions that bosses can take in order to inspire their remote team and keep them on track to hit their objectives this year.
1. Set SMART goals together
In order to be inspired, employees need to know where they’re going. Outlining the company roadmap ahead can help employees renew their commitment to the company.
Bosses should work with their employees to define SMART goals for themselves and collectively as a team. These goals should align with the company’s mission, so employees can see how their contributions affect the business as a whole.
SMART goals are:
SMART goals ensure that the objectives employees and managers set are grounded in reality. They focus on what reasonably can be accomplished with the resources at hand and set a time limit to evaluate the progress.
A recent study discovered that 91% of employee goals align with the overarching mission and priorities of the business. By understanding how their contributions lead to company success, employees can have a renewed focus on their job.
SMART goals also carefully outline the expectations for the employee. They enable the boss and employee to be on the same page, focusing on what is doable for that quarter.
This will set expectations and provide the employee with time to raise any objections as to what isn’t feasible or what may need to be outsourced to a freelancer.
By stopping and deciding to hire a freelancer early in the process, the team can get even more accomplished before it’s too late.
With goals on-hand and a new roadmap ahead, remote teams will be ready to hit the ground running and get to work.
2. Give employees their time back.
Time is a commodity that is finite. It’s precious, and your employees need more of it.
Managers should constantly look for ways to improve their business functions and how employees do their jobs.
To accomplish this, they need to analyze employee efficiency, streamline processes, improve communication and introduce new software. These steps will free up employees’ time—especially if businesses focus on improving communication.
Businesses should ensure that their communications are clear, so they can cut down on time re-explaining tasks and business objectives to employees.
If instructions for a task aren’t clear, employees may get frustrated. They may do the task incorrectly and have to waste time re-doing it.
To counteract this, businesses need to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Businesses can introduce a variety of internal software to improve communications and efficiency.
Some common software used across teams include:
- Contact Monkey – launch an internal company newsletter for employees
Shared software brings employees together. Employees will feel more bonded with each other trying to troubleshoot and will rely on each other to figure out new technology.
As businesses improve their internal communications, employees will be more informed on company happenings and feel closely connected to the business.
3. Automate processes and channels.
It doesn’t matter how skilled your employees are. Everyone can use a little help.
Businesses can re-engage their employees by finding ways to make their lives easier.
One way to do this is to build automated channels or processes that the employees can manage instead of completing that specific task by hand.
For example, marketing managers will be fixated on acquiring customers and getting new customers to the company’s website.
Nearly every marketing managers’ dream is when organic traffic starts increasing naturally due to channels they’ve built that can run on their own.
Bosses need to help employees identify how they can work smarter instead of harder.
There are opportunities in every line of work to improve how basic, everyday tasks are completed.
Take SEO for example. A business with pages that rank high on Google are making the marketing manager’s life easier. Customers will find the pages organically, freeing the employee to monitor their SEO efforts and work on other projects.
Adam Steele, COO of Loganix said, “Search engine optimization is constantly working for your business. Organic searches will lead visitors to your site at all points of the day—even off-business hours when your team isn’t launching campaigns.”
Instead of targeting niche customers, building a wide, evergreen channel that continuously leads relevant customers to your company website is a dream for marketers.
If they manage to do that, they could optimize it while focusing on other business initiatives. They may be inspired to sign up for projects that are out of their standard job scope.
Bosses should give their team members the freedom to define their own day-to-day work, while identifying areas that they can optimize.
This will exponentially grow the success resulting from their team’s effort.
4. Meet only when needed.
Meetings are important in remote settings—but only when needed.
Bosses need to think critically about when to schedule meetings and if they are always worth it. You need to have face time with team members, but you should be careful not to go overboard.
Some people hate video chatting. Other’s love it. It’s important to take your employees preference into account when scheduling one-on-one meetings. In addition, you should only schedule department-wide meetings on a limited basis and when they are absolutely necessary.
There is nothing more aggravating than being invited to a meeting that you didn’t need to attend. Or worse: a meeting that could have been an email.
Meetings are a critical part of working remotely. However, they need to be planned and executed with productivity in mind.
Meeting organizers are responsible for setting a clear objective and inviting only relevant participants.
They should also guard their employees’ time and not spend too long talking about certain business functions. If they don’t, employees may get frustrated or disengaged.
More than 65% of managers believe meetings prevent them from completing work that needs to be done. This is a staggering statistic that shows how disruptive meetings can be to employees’ days if they are poorly run.
That’s why it’s important for meeting organizers to do everything they can to adequately prepare for meetings before they begin.
To ensure you’re prepared for meetings, you should:
- Prepare a meeting agenda
- Give attendees ample time to prepare
- Test the technology prior to the meeting
- Start on time no matter what
Employees will appreciate your efficiency and thoroughness. After a productive meeting, they’ll likely have a renewed motivation to complete their objectives and drive the business forward.
5. Focus on the why.
Why are we all here? That’s a profound question that everyone wrestles with from time to time.
In a work setting, it’s effective to openly discuss this question on a monthly—if not weekly or daily—basis.
Reframing the company’s mission in employees eyes can help motivate them to contribute more passionately to the business.
Sometimes employees get siloed and only focus on their own work. By focusing on the company’s why, they may see the company in a new light.
They might realize how their past completed projects moved the company forward and made their customers’ lives easier. This may re-energize them to push forward and continue to do great work.
In addition, it effectively causes the employees to recommit to the company in more frequent intervals.
This process isn’t only good for employees. It’s also good for the company to reevaluate their brand messaging to see what resonates.
According to Growth Ramp, “Brand messaging is the art of consistently sharing your brand’s promise. The best brand messaging resonates with customers in a way that results in a conversion.”
Employee buy-in to the company’s brand messaging is just as important as customer buy-in. Both will be ambassadors of your product.
Reviewing your brand messaging and mission with your employees will result in higher levels of employee engagement.
This ultimately will lead to a more refined unique selling proposition for your customers.
6. Let employees restructure their day.
One of the biggest employee perks for remote work is flexibility.
Businesses that effectively capitalize on remote work understand how to reward their employees with the flexibility to restructure their day.
Now, this doesn’t mean that they can’t be available all day. Instead, it means that businesses and their work from home virtual teams have an agreement of what’s expected.
Trust is necessary in any remote working structure.
Businesses need to trust that their employees will get the job done by the deadlines that are set. If trust is shared between employees and bosses, success can be achieved.
With this trust in place, employees should be able to restructure their day.
This type of flexibility allows employees to pick up their kids from school, go for a run, meet a friend for a long lunch or complete any other mundane task… as long as their work is completed sometime throughout the day.
Employees would even be allowed to take a mid-afternoon nap or take ample breaks to rest. Lack of sleep can lead to sadness, stress, and poor performance.
Approximately 1 in 2 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. This can cause unwanted stress in their lives. However, research shows that it doesn’t keep them up at night.
According to Sleep Junkie, “For workers who receive between $60,000 and $90,000 of annual income, there was a dip in the number of hours slept, with the low point for sleep being between $70,000 and $80,000.”
This could be a result of a variety of factors: stress from work, the motivation for a promotion, or even the challenges of daily life.
By providing the flexibility for employees to take breaks and get tasks done, you will improve their lives, resulting in greater overall satisfaction, contributions, and company success.
7. Launch an extracurricular project.
Hanging out, completing tasks, solving problems—it all brings teams together.
Since you aren’t physically together, the standard team building trust fall exercise probably won’t work.
Instead, you should find a project that you can all work on together.
This project should be something your entire department has wanted to accomplish for the company, but has never found the time.
For example, maybe you decide you want to launch a company podcast. You can devote 1-2 hours per week exploring topics, promotion ideas, and ways to further connect with your audience.
Or maybe you want them to learn new business skills, like writing a business proposal, business plan, and more.
Projects like these may not be in the tops of your to-do list, but they are important. In addition, you can also sponsor your remote team’s personal goals.
For example, if team members want to learn new languages like Spanish, hire a Spanish tutor for them online and help inspire them!
Extracurricular projects are effective motivators that also add value to core business operations.
With increasing technology advancements, there are more remote teams than ever before.
Businesses need to figure out how to function in remote settings and ensure that their employees are motivated and excited about their jobs.
Remote work presents a handful of challenges, but employees that have bought into the company’s mission will be ready to tackle them.
To inspire their remote team, managers should deploy a handful of tactics.
Set SMART goals together. Give employees their time back. Automate processes and channels. Meet only when needed. Focus on the why. Let employees restructure their day. Launch an extracurricular project.
By actively trying to inspire employees, your team will be more engaged than ever before.
About The Author
Bethany Santos is a former HR Officer who later found her specialty in digital marketing. With a keen interest in content optimization and market behavior, she’s become a walking database for industry news.