How we work has fundamentally changed in the last few years, with remote work becoming an increasingly common aspect of the modern workplace. As teams grow more geographically dispersed, companies face new challenges in managing remote employees and maintaining effective collaboration.

One of the most significant challenges remote employees face is the development of professional familiarity, which entails gaining insight into their colleagues’ work habits, strengths, values, and preferences related to their jobs.fastcompany.com

At the heart of successful remote collaboration lies the ability to foster self-awareness and emotional intelligence within team members, which is essential for building strong connections and overcoming the social distance that can arise in displaced team environments.

This blog post will explore the importance of self-awareness and emotional intelligence in remote collaboration and strategies for engaging and motivating globally-dispersed teams.

As remote work continues to evolve and expand, organizations must understand the challenges and opportunities this new way of working presents. One key challenge in a hybrid work model is managing the social distance between team members working from home or in remote locations, which can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnectedness.

Organizations can reduce social distance, improve communication, and promote a more cohesive and collaborative work environment by developing self-awareness and emotional intelligence in remote team members.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the social distance, explore the benefits of fostering self-awareness and emotional intelligence in remote teams, and provide practical strategies and tools to enhance remote collaboration and communication. Additionally, we will discuss methods for engaging and motivating globally-dispersed teams to create a more inclusive and effective remote work culture.

a blue mug is sitting next to a laptop that has a video call showing on the screen

Understanding Social Distance In A Geographically Dispersed Team

Social distance refers to the emotional connection, or lack thereof, among team members, particularly in remote work environments. As teams become more geographically dispersed, the potential for increased social distance can hurt team dynamics, leading to feelings of isolation and a lack of cohesion within the group.

Negotiation and leadership experts have long advocated for perspective-taking—attempting to understand your counterpart’s thoughts, feelings, and motives. The result is reduced social distance.hbr.org

If employees feel disconnected, it becomes more challenging to establish trust, maintain open communication, and foster a sense of belonging, which are all crucial for effective team collaboration.

The Challenge Of Connecting And Coordinating In Dispersed Teams

In dispersed teams, connecting and coordinating with one another can be daunting. Differences in time zones, work schedules, languages, and cultural backgrounds can all contribute to the challenges of remote collaboration. As a result, team members may find it difficult to develop strong working relationships, share knowledge effectively, and stay aligned with their colleagues’ goals and priorities. This can lead to miscommunication, confusion, and a decline in overall team productivity.

In response to the diverse needs of its global community, Cloverleaf is refining its platform by integrating core features and functions in multiple languages. Currently, users can select Spanish or German within their dashboard and enjoy the Cloverleaf experience in their chosen language. This enhancement aims to provide a more inclusive and accessible experience for users worldwide.

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Reducing social distance in remote work environments is essential for promoting effective collaboration and fostering a positive team culture.

EI is all about empathy, inclusion, and respect — traits that are more important than ever at a time when managers and employees have no idea what challenges their colleagues are facing… – forbes.com

Addressing social distance is a crucial management task for leaders of asynchronous teams, as it can directly impact overall performance and success. By minimizing social distance, leaders can help their virtual teams feel more connected, engaged, and supported. This, in turn, can lead to improved communication, a better understanding of colleagues’ perspectives, and increased teamwork toward shared goals.

Fostering Self-Awareness And Emotional Intelligence In Dispersed Teams

Self-awareness refers to an individual’s understanding of their emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and thought patterns. At the same time, emotional intelligence encompasses the ability to recognize, interpret, and manage one’s own and others’ emotions effectively.

Both self-awareness and emotional intelligence in the workplace are critical components of successful remote collaboration. They enable teammates to navigate complex interpersonal dynamics, adapt to diverse communication styles, and empathize with their colleagues’ perspectives.

The Benefits Of Self-Awareness And Emotional Intelligence In Remote Work

Developing self-awareness and emotional intelligence can significantly improve remote team collaboration in at least four impactful ways:

  1. Better Communication: Teammates with emotional intelligence are more likely to express their thoughts and feelings clearly and constructively, facilitating open and honest dialogue within the team.

  2. More Collaboration: Self-aware individuals are better equipped to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, enabling them to contribute more effectively and collaborate more closely with their teammates.

    • Cloverleaf’s assessment-driven coaching helps team leaders and members to adapt their leadership, communication, and behavior in real-time. The insights help teams uncover and leverage employee strengths and potential. Plus, individuals can see how diverse or similar their team is and how they complement one another.

  3. Less Conflict: An essential aspect of cultivating high emotional intelligence within a team is consciously attempting to understand situations from each member’s unique viewpoint. Emotional intelligence helps teammates identify and address potential conflicts before they escalate, fostering a more harmonious workplace.

  4. Stronger Adaptability: Emotional intelligence serves as a foundation for adaptability. Emotionally intelligent individuals can more easily adapt to changes and challenges, making them invaluable assets in the dynamic landscape of geographically dispersed teams.

3 Practices For Engaging And Motivating Globally-Dispersed Teams

To cultivate a robust sense of unity and teamwork within remote workers, consider adopting the following approaches: promoting transparency, nurturing a sense of community, and encouraging knowledge-sharing.

Embrace Transparency To Strengthen Trust

  1. Establish Clear Goals And Expectations: Clearly define team objectives and individual responsibilities, ensuring everyone is aligned and working towards common goals.

  2. Encourage Regular Communication: Promote remote communication among teammates through various channels, such as video calls, instant messaging, and check-ins.

  3. Use A Coaching Approach: Adopt a leadership mentality responsive to employees’ needs, providing guidance, encouragement, and recognition when appropriate.

  4. Cultivate Inclusivity: Encourage your team to be open to diverse perspectives, experiences, and ideas.

Facilitate Community-Building

To facilitate community-building among geographically dispersed teams, focus on implementing activities that effectively bridge the social distance between teammates. These activities can help foster trust, empathy, and a sense of camaraderie.

Examples include engaging icebreaker questions, scheduling virtual social events, organizing cross-functional projects, and offering training sessions to strengthen team-building, communication skills, and emotional intelligence skills.

  1. Team Building Questions: Kick-off virtual meetings with icebreakers to help people get to know each other better.

  2. Virtual Lunches Or Coffee Breaks: Schedule regular virtual social events where teammates can connect and chat informally.

  3. Collaborative Problem-Solving: Consider projects that benefit from cross-functionality to streamline processes, brainstorm, and improve workflow.

  4. Workshops And Training: Provide virtual training sessions to enhance team-building, effective communication, and emotional intelligence skills.

Encouraging Knowledge-Sharing

Encouraging a culture of knowledge-sharing and ongoing learning is essential for maintaining connectedness, engagement, and motivation within dispersed teams. To foster this culture, consider the following:

  1. Creating A Centralized Knowledge Repository: Utilize a cloud-based platform like Google Drive or Dropbox where teammates can access relevant information, share files, and whiteboard.

  2. Utilize Easy-To-Use Communication Tools: Implement user-friendly collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom, Asana, or Trello so that it is easy to contribute, find, and access information.

  3. Hosting Virtual ‘Show and Tell’ Sessions: Designate regular team meetings to showcase projects and share learnings.

  4. Celebrating Team Achievements: Acknowledge individual and team accomplishments regularly to help reinforce a sense of purpose and pride in the team’s work.

The Importance of Continuous Learning and Adaptation

As remote collaboration continues to evolve, so too must the strategies and practices used to manage and support dispersed teams. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations and team leaders must commit to reassessing virtual collaboration and procedures to ensure they remain effective.

Equally important is fostering a culture of ongoing learning and professional growth among employees, empowering them with the support, tools, and skills to excel in a virtual environment.

The momentum behind the global shift to remote work continues to grow, driven by organizations embracing flexible working arrangements to adapt to their employees’ diverse needs and preferences.

This reality underscores the importance of developing innovative tools, techniques, and best practices to facilitate effective collaboration among coworkers, regardless of their physical location.

Placing emphasis on self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and community-building within dispersed teams enables organizations to maintain agility, productivity, and success in the constantly changing landscape of work. As geographically dispersed teams unite individuals with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, it is essential for organizations to foster environments that appreciate this diversity and encourage understanding, empathy, and mutual respect among team members.

The hybrid work model has become increasingly popular as it offers a unique blend of benefits, including increased engagement, autonomy, and collaboration. It represents a new work era where employees can choose where and when they work best, and organizations can foster a culture of trust, creativity, and productivity.

Although some employers may require a set number of days for hybrid employees to be in the office, a recent Gallup® poll shows that only 43% of employees reported having such a requirement.

Recently, Tuesday through Thursday appear to be the days that hybrid employees often choose to work in-office and are also the days that most employers require employees to work in-office.

Hybrid work has been around for a long time, but it’s evolved with new standards, challenges, and best practices. Companies are wisely exploring the best ways to balance in-office and remote work to meet the needs of their employees and the organization.

What Is Different About The Workplace Compared To Previous Years?

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the work landscape experienced a transformation, with hybrid work models emerging as a new demand for employers to figure out. Below are significant factors that influence the meaning and significance of hybrid workplaces.

Rapid-Changing Technology

The widespread adoption of cloud computing, collaboration tools, and virtual communication platforms has made remote work more accessible and efficient. This has enabled organizations to adopt hybrid work models, providing employees with increased flexibility in where they work.

Changing Employees Attitude

COVID-19 accelerated the change in employees’ perspectives on work, with many now placing greater importance on work-life balance. This shift in attitudes has led to a growing demand for hybrid work arrangements.

What people are looking for isn’t flexibility of location. It’s the flexibility of time. The pandemic has shown everybody that we’re whole humans. All this hybrid talk misses the fact that it’s not the geography, the location. It’s the flexibility of being a whole human. Marcus Buckingham

Employees care about balancing in-person and remote because it enables them to prioritize life outside work, leading to a more well-rounded and fulfilling life.

New Management Approaches

Bridging the gap between remote and in-person teams and facilitating seamless collaboration requires different thinking, new tools, streamlined processes, and transparent communication to ensure they have the resources to manage and support a hybrid workforce effectively.

Increasing Focus on Employee Wellbeing

Exploring how to motivate employees is driven by recognizing that happy and healthy employees are more productive, engaged, and likely to stay with the organization for longer.

It’s imperative for employers to understand and facilitate hybrid work models that acknowledge individuals’ humanity. If not, leaders will retain top talent and high-potential employees.

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Applying The Hybrid Work Model

The hybrid work model blends remote and in-person work for flexibility and better work-life balance. It is designed to accommodate flexibility within two primary dimensions; time and place, or in other words, when and where.

The Time Factor (When)

The time factor in a hybrid work model transitions employees from working synchronously with others to working asynchronously whenever they choose.

The Location Factor (Where)

This component allows employees to choose where they work. The options for a work location expand outside the office, including working from home or wherever the employee sees fit.

It’s best to envision both dimensions upon a quadrant because there is room for variation in how organizations exercise these two elements.

Office-Centric: Employees are expected to work in-office the majority of the time according to a mostly fixed schedule.

Remote-Centric: WFA is the only option for all employees and during times that are best for their schedule.

Time-Friendly: Employees can mostly choose their working hours but still require most of their time to be spent in the office.

Location-Friendly: Team members can work from anywhere but generally during the same times as others on the team.

Hybrid Work Model: A truly hybrid work model exists with fluidity for teams to shift within the quadrant according to the team and individual needs. Doing so gives team members autonomy and trust while expressing expectations for remote collaboration and teamwork.

hybrid work model for trust and collaboration

Hybrid workers view their work as a “flow.” Hybrid workers are willing to work outside traditional work hours to balance their personal needs during the day.

As you can imagine, this flexibility is especially beneficial for individuals with unique situations, parents with children, or who prefer to manage their time and responsibilities with deeper trust.

How To Determine Which Model Is Best For Your Team

There are several questions to ask to help decide how your team can start implementing or improving your hybrid work model:

  1. Based on the Hybrid Work Model, what extremes exist within our team, and how can we move them closer toward the center?

  2. Which areas of our organization are suited for hybrid work?

  3. What processes and workflows are necessary to support this environment within our organization?

  4. What tools can we implement to support efficient, timely, and collaborative communication?

  5. What values must our leaders adopt or model to influence supportive behavior within this environment?

Organizations can ensure that their hybrid work model is effective and sustainable in the long term by prioritizing communication and collaboration and investing in the right tools and workflows.

Adapting To A Hybrid Work Model Could Help Improve Your Culture

Hybrid work offers several advantages, such as improved work-life balance, reduced burnout, higher productivity, and less commuting time.

Hybrid work environments promote a sense of ownership and accountability among employees. With the ability to work in remote and in-person settings, employees naturally experience more autonomy and trust to manage their workloads and schedules, fostering transparency and open communication.

Additionally, the increased flexibility and focus on work-life balance can result in higher employee morale and well-being, contributing to a more positive and supportive work environment. Moreover, remote work can help reduce turnover and attract new talent who value flexibility and independence.

Adapting to remote work options is one of the strategies for increasing employee engagement. When employees can choose where and when they work, they feel more in control and can tailor their schedules to meet their personal needs. For more on this, visit the post: Creating An Employee Engagement Strategy For A Human-Centered Workplace.

meaning of hybrid working

Who Wants To Work From Home Or At Office Or Both?

The desire for remote work or a hybrid work model varies depending on the individual and their personal preferences, work style, and job responsibilities. Some people may prefer the structure and routine of working in an office, while others may enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home. Others may find that the ideal solution is a hybrid model that allows them to split their time between working from home and the office.

Many companies are now finding that not all of their employees don’t want to come back to the office; their older employees don’t want to come back to the office. Younger employees actually do because, for people in their twenties in particular, the office is a source of social connection.Jason Feifer, entrepreneur.com

The success of remote and hybrid work models has led to a greater emphasis on results-based performance rather than the number of hours spent in the office.

It could be that people don’t want to be back in an office all day, every day. Because the problem is that nobody has thought about what happens next when somebody returns to the office. People don’t want to just be in a room. Nobody cares about that. People want connection. Maybe there’s a different way to do that.Jason Feifer, entrepreneur.com

Clearly, the workforce desires more from their work and employer; they want meaning and fulfillment. People want their life and work to matter and to flow seamlessly together as much as possible. Hybrid work models could be a way to achieve greater levels of flexibility, collaboration, and fulfillment.

Best Practices for Hybrid Work Environments

While hybrid work models offer several benefits, they also come with their own set of challenges. Hybrid employees may face difficulties accessing work resources and equipment or experience feelings of disconnection from the company’s culture and their colleagues.

Maintaining work relationships with teammates can also be more challenging for hybrid workers, affecting team dynamics and collaboration. Additionally, it can be difficult for hybrid workers to develop their careers within an organization if there is a decrease in personal and professional familiarity with their colleagues and managers.

To overcome these challenges, companies must proactively strategize to ensure that hybrid workers fully integrate into the company culture by providing resources, tools, and support to facilitate their success.

To capitalize on the benefits of hybrid work while steering clear of the potential detriments, leaders, and employees should consider the following three suggestions.

Define Work-Home Boundaries

Working remotely can lead to increased productivity, providing best practices are implemented to set up a conducive work environment to minimize distractions.

  • Set boundaries with family members

  • Block off non-negotiable times or days to work

  • Create a workspace conducive to productivity

Individuals can minimize distractions and maintain focus during work by defining these boundaries and communicating them when necessary. For tips, visit the post: How to Stay Happy and Productive While Working Remotely.

hybrid work model best practices

Prioritize Team Building

Hybrid work arrangements can lead to less in-person interaction with teammates. This limitation is potentially problematic, affecting trust and information sharing. Therefore, it is essential to incorporate team-building activities into hybrid work environments to create opportunities for employees to interact with each other, share common interests, and build camaraderie.

Here is a list of virtual ideas to help your team get started:

  • Coffee breaks

  • Designated lunch hour where remote and in-office workers can chat over lunch in break-out rooms

  • Trivia

  • Book clubs

  • Fitness challenges

  • Happy hours

  • Collaborative music playlists

  • Designated communication channels to share non-work updates or life events

With some creativity and intentionality, hybrid teams can build strong relationships and collaborate effectively, regardless of their physical location.

Practice Consistent Communication

Virtual leadership can be complex in a hybrid work model. Regular check-ins are a great way to establish a time for communication between leaders, teams, and teammates.

Establishing a cadence for check-ins within a hybrid work model should happen in several contexts that primarily include:

  • All-Team (think once a quarter)

  • Leadership Team (think once a week)

  • Manager and Team Member (think once a week)

  • Peer To Peer: (think project-based, as frequently as necessary)

Finding a cadence to ensure productivity without micromanaging is crucial to maintaining trust. Technology like Calendar Sharing, Zoom, Slack, or 15Five facilitates efficient information sharing among team members.

Conclusion

Hybrid work models are no longer a trend but a new standard in the modern work environment. As hybrid work becomes the new standard, companies must be prepared to embrace this new way of working and create a supportive and inclusive environment for their employees. Although there are many ways teams can experiment with hybrid work, organizations must understand that a successful model requires a shift in mindset and an intentional strategy.

The key to working from home is mastering work-home boundary management tactics.

Struggling to avoid disruptions while working from home? You’re not alone.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2.5% of American employees worked from home. At the height of the pandemic, this number peaked at 42%. And now, many employers are implementing a permanent work-from-home option. This aligns with a recent study suggesting that 37% of U.S. jobs can easily be done from home. It would appear that remote work options are here to stay.

how-to-stay-productive-while-working-from-home

For some, this is the first time they’ve worked from home. For others, this is the first time they’ve worked from home full-time. Given this backdrop, it’s important to think about how well you’re doing at managing your home work boundaries.

You can take an assessment called “Managing Work-Home Boundaries” to see how you stack up. This 12-question assessment is free, validated, and theoretically grounded. Your assessment will automatically generate your scores and a comparison to your peers.

Integration Versus Segmentation

The first step in managing work-home boundaries is understanding where you fall along the integration-segmentation continuum.

  • Integrators enjoy the dynamic and fluid nature of going back-and-forth between work and non-work tasks. Integrators are better suited to be remote employees and feel more efficient as they simultaneously make progress in both domains.

  • Segmenters prefer to keep clear boundaries between work and home domains. Without proactive work-home boundary management, segmenters struggle when working from home and commonly cite feeling frustrated and distracted when work and home domains are intermixed.

  • Context-Dependent. Note that many will find themselves somewhere between these two extremes. This means that preferences for integration or segmentation for most work arrangements are context-dependent. Those in the middle should pinpoint the domain-specific circumstances where they prefer one approach or the other.

Behavioral Tactics

There are several ways to manage your work-home boundaries to ensure that you maintain your desired amount of segmentation for your workday.

  • Using Technology. Consider using separate email accounts (or email filtering), scheduling software that blocks off work and family time, Automated Coaching™ responses (via text, social media, email, Slack, or the like), and status messages to retain work-home boundaries.

  • Disruption Allowance. Decide in advance for which activities in each domain you are and are not welcoming minor disruptions. For example, perhaps Zoom work meetings are the only time you won’t allow home-related interruptions. During family time, perhaps you’ll only field calls from your supervisor, but everything else gets screened for urgency and importance.

  • Physical Boundaries. Where we sit matters. To the extent possible, create spaces like a home office that are off-limits to family and, in the longer term, seek several locations outside of the home where you can comfortably get work done. For example, coworking spaces are becoming ubiquitous, and it might be worth the investment.

Temporal Tactics

There are two time-related tactics that can help maintain WFH segmentation preferences.

  • Blocking Off Time. Experiment with blocking off days and timeframes where a specific type of work or home domain activity will be completed. Make it clear to colleagues at work, and family and friends at home, that those timeframes are non-negotiable. 

  • Maintaining Equilibrium. This tactic entails balancing out the amount of time you spend in the work and home domains across a longer period of time than the traditional 24-hour timeframe. Many remote workers, for example, accommodate for early morning or late afternoon childcare transitions by working during designated times on the weekends. Relatedly, may employees take extended vacations after dolling out extra hours during a spike in seasonal work demands.

Communicative Tactics

All of the tactics discussed thus far are dependent on how well you communicate the rationale behind your decisions.

  • Managing Expectations. Don’t assume that colleagues or family members will know your work-home boundary intentions. You don’t have to broadcast your personal situation to colleagues. Keep it clear and simple. When managing expectations at home, explain why you’re employing certain tactics. Make sure they understand that you’re managing boundaries so that you can be present and fully available during non-work hours.

  • Discussing Violations. It’s inevitable that your work-home boundary preferences will be violated. It’s in these moments where you ultimately determine whether your tactics will flourish or flop. This is the hardest part of the process. Stick up for yourself, but be sure to be empathetic and reasonable while doing so.

In many ways working in an office around your co-workers is easier when it comes to work-home boundary management. The physical distance and commute does much of the work for us. But now, as we transition towards more opportunities to work from home, it’s our responsibility to figure out how to do it right.

Start by thinking through your integration-segmentation preferences, and then start experimenting with the aforementioned tactics. Keep in mind that it’s likely to be an ongoing experiment, not a black-and-white, one-time solution. Continue to take ownership of your time and space. You deserve it.

Visit www.scottdust.com for more free resources for human capital enthusiasts, including a free e-book titled “A Field Guide to Human Capital Assessments.” 

Commonly overlooked, evidence-based recommendations for virtual leaders.

For managers now working from home, leading a team virtually presents new challenges. And because the pandemic changed the work environment so drastically and so quickly, our advice for managers is yet to catch up. 

The virtual leadership reminders currently floating around the infosphere are straightforward. Leaders should touch-up on their technical skills, focus on building trust, and encourage social cohesion through regular team check-ins.

These are accurate and helpful, but virtual work is here to stay and moving quickly. It’s time to go deeper.

Below are five overlooked, evidence-based recommendations for leading in today’s virtual work environment. 

1. Pay Attention to Emergent Leadership

Ideally, everyone on the team steps up as a leader when their knowledge or skills are needed. However, this tendency to emerge as a leader changes in virtual work environments.

Communication apprehension—anxiety due to anticipated communication with others—is more common in real-time virtual communication.

This isn’t the same thing as introversion. In fact, it’s more strongly associated with neuroticism, which means that some of the most critical, perfection-oriented employees aren’t speaking up.

Leaders should nudge these employees to contribute, clear the floor to give them the spotlight, or consider alternative outlets for them to voice their suggestions and concerns.

2. Establish Virtual Communication Norms

Moving to virtual-only work disrupts preexisting face-to-face or hybrid communication norms. Embrace the change by thinking through four questions: What medium? How often? What tone? What level of detail?

In new or uncertain environments, employees mimic the behaviors of their leader. Choose wisely. 

3. Stop Overloading Your Employees With Information

We’re getting comfortable with communication in a remote work environment. Too comfortable. We post or send messages about everything.

Just because it’s easier to communicate electronically doesn’t mean it needs to be communicated. Employees are overwhelmed. Be judicious.

4. Use Asynchronous Video

Employees log more overall hours when working remotely compared to face-to-face. Partly because the days are filled with Zoom meetings that disrupt employees’ flow and deep thinking.

Help your employees be more productive by recording videos with key information that they can watch whenever is convenient for them. They’ll likely watch them during the transition time between meetings or when their energy is low and they need a break. 

5. Practice Balanced Monitoring

Over-monitoring employees is common when leading virtually. Leaders tend to overcompensate when they can no longer pick up on subtle signals during face-to-face interaction.

Although some degree of monitoring ensures stability in productivity, too much will annoy subordinates and degrade trust. 

An Eye Towards The Future

Just like preexisting virtual leadership listicles, these recommendations will soon become outdated and overly straightforward. The foundations of leadership don’t change in virtual environments, they just make the need for high-quality leadership more pronounced. What will change, however, is the nature of the virtual work environment.

History clearly illustrates that technology changes quickly. The best virtual leaders will continue to think deeply about what’s new or different as virtual work environments evolve, and how they can go deeper to meet the needs of their team members.

A version of this article is also published at Business Insider.

Visit www.scottdust.com for more free resources for human capital enthusiasts, including a free e-book titled “A Field Guide to Human Capital Assessments.” 

You’re probably already well aware that your staff is the lifeblood of your business. They work diligently and consistently toward your collective success, they’re there to help you brainstorm new ideas, and get you through those dreaded creative slumps.

Unfortunately, the global pandemic has put a major strain on nearly every company’s staff force, and yours is likely included in the list. Your team members might still be feeling demotivated and burnt out after many months of working in isolation and being anxious about the future.

Your job as a business owner, team manager, or personal relations specialist is to provide the motivation your remote team needs to get through these dire times. You need to inspire them to stay productive while looking after themselves and prioritizing their own health and well-being. 

Need a place to start? Here are our 3 essential tips for encouraging, motivating, and engaging your team to boost employee motivation and employee engagement.

wfh-motivation

1. Develop a Cross-Company Rewards System

Everyone loves rewards. They’re a fantastic source of motivation, along with an effective incentive to keep your team’s spirits high.

There are two main types of rewards you can use to motivate your team: intrinsic and extrinsic.

An intrinsic reward is an offering or gift with no tangible, physical presence, like a compliment or recognition for excellent contributions. Extrinsic rewards, on the other hand, are tangible items such as bonuses, trophies, plaques, or ‘Employee of the Month’ badges.

Both types of rewards can help to boost office morale and keep your staff motivated—but the true magic happens when you combine them. If you’re trying to figure out which type of reward would best suit your team, you need to take a closer look at the kinds of goals they’re aiming to achieve.

The Right Time for Intrinsic Rewards

Intrinsic rewards are best suited for acknowledging ‘immeasurable’ or subjective goals. They have a more powerful and longer-lived effect on your team’s attitude than extrinsic rewards do. If you plan on making a long-term positive impact on your team and encouraging certain actions or beliefs, intrinsic perks are your bet best.

There are so many ways to use this reward type to motivate your staff force. Recognizing their strengths, efforts, and achievements is quick, simple, cost-effective, and one of the best possible ways you can go about ensuring your staff remains loyal to your organization.

Intrinsic rewards can include employee of the month accolades, regular shout-outs, or even one-on-one meetings between employees and supervisors. In these meetings, contributions are praised and encouraged.

Regardless of how you reward your employees, remember to make sure your approach is inclusive and sensitive to their needs, expectations, and personal beliefs. Take time to figure out what inspires each of your workers so you can reward them in a way that engages and makes them feel appreciated and respected.

The Right Time for Extrinsic Rewards

You should ideally offer extrinsic rewards when there’s an obvious and measurable goal your team is trying to reach. You can use close monitoring and reporting to determine whether or not the team has hit its goal, and then reward them as you see fit.

It’s also recommended that you add a time frame to your extrinsic reward goals. This gives your team the incentives they need to work harder and quicker towards the objective at hand. 

Moreover, it’s useful to create a hierarchy of company rewards. This allows you to offer predetermined rewards that match the amount of work your team puts in within a given time frame. If you give your staff force a major goal to achieve, make sure the prize is tempting enough to incentivize them to work towards it in good time.

You can offer smaller rewards, such as advanced paychecks, for workers achieving more minor goals. Even the simplest of offerings can motivate workers to accomplish easy feats like accurately reporting their hours, or submitting documents by specific deadlines.

Reserve larger, juicier rewards like gift cards and annual bonuses for notable achievements like boosting sales by a certain figure, or significantly improving production rates to a preset level. We recommend breaking down major goals into smaller objectives, each with its own small reward, for motivating employees and adding employee engagement throughout the process to keep team members on track.

2. Introduce Workplace Gamification

‘Gamification’ has become a huge buzzword in recent years. This movement has the power to motivate employees, students, online learners, and virtually everyone in between.

But what exactly IS gamification, and how does it fit into working from home?

Simply put, gamification is a method of motivation companies use to boost employee satisfaction, productivity, and employee efficiency. The method involves implementing game-based features into daily tasks to make work more fun and more immersive for all involved.

When you incorporate this element of competition into your company’s day-to-day operations, you can encourage your team to learn new skills rapidly, and apply them creatively in a fun work environment.

You can start adopting this approach by developing a training program packed with badges, rewards, leaderboards, and measured achievements for completing individual learning modules. You can even allow your staff members to compete with one another, or with different departments within your business. You can also use gamification and competition to motivate your departments individually, even when they’re working from home.

3. Offer Regular and Honest Feedback

It’s essential to give your employees regular and transparent feedback if you want to keep them motivated. Clear communication helps to build an awesome work-from-home culture that strengthens the team. Regardless of whether your feedback is positive, negative, or constructive, being honest will allow each of your workers to grow, both personally and professionally.

If you don’t provide enough feedback, your team members will never be sure of which aspects of their work ethic need attention, and which areas they’re performing exceptionally in.

Positive feedback is obviously the easiest type to offer. However, you need to make your compliments specific for them to really hit home. If you don’t, they may seem generic or insincere. Chat to your workers about specific actions and behaviors you appreciate, and explain exactly why they were the right choices to make.

It’s helpful to focus on how their actions benefit your company and align with its ethos. Once you explain your positive feedback at length to your team members, they’ll understand why it’s important for them to continue those actions in the future.

It can, of course, be harder to deliver negative feedback. As difficult as it is to accept, poor feedback can often be a more powerful motivator than upbeat praise. Using the ‘sandwich approach’ is the trick to turning negative feedback into a motivating force.

This approach involves offering a compliment, then criticism, then another compliment in that order. When you do broach your criticism, offer it in a neutral way, and use facts and a few specific incidents to back up your claims. 

At the end of the day, you should keep your focus on your team member’s performance and the steps they can take to improve it. Give them time to offer their own feedback on your criticisms too. Doing so will allow your staff members a chance to voice their own thoughts and opinions and have them heard and validated.

The Bottom Line

It takes empathy and creativity in equal measures to motivate your team when they’re working from home. While remote work comes with some pros, it has its cons too. Your team could be battling with personal issues, anxious about the future, or suffering from workload-related stress. Remember to be kind and willing to listen to their concerns.

Thankfully, there are so many ways to increase employee motivation, even during trying times. Try using gamification, rewards systems, and honest feedback to engage your employees and boost their job satisfaction, every day of the week.

Talent Development in the Age of AI

HUMAN SKILL PROGRAMS ARE HITTING LIMITATIONS...​

5 THINGS THIS FREE RESOURCE WILL TEACH YOU

This blog is a guest post written by Richard Fendler, a goal-oriented manager at SnackNation with proven leadership abilities. He’s an expert in increasing productivity and customer satisfaction while driving revenue and sales. Also committed to streamlining procedures while optimizing employee talent.

Keeping team members happy and engaged when working remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge that all managers face. While it may seem like an insurmountable task in the long term, there are some team-building exercises you can do to achieve working with remote teams effectively.

With that in mind, here are 10 virtual team-building activities to add to your roster of employee engagement strategies so that remote work does not leave employees feeling isolated.

1. HOST A VIRTUAL BIRTHDAY PARTY

Office birthdays are a part of most company cultures, so there is no reason to stop this tradition when teams are working from home.

You can choose to organize virtual birthday parties yourself or assign this task to different people as seems suitable. There are lots of birthday party ideas for work that make sense in a virtual workspace, such as online karaoke sessions, masquerade balls, and even murder mystery games!

2. ARRANGE A VIRTUAL HAPPY HOUR

If your team is used to meeting for post-work drinks or even a coffee break on a weekly or monthly basis, this is another activity that translates well to the virtual space.

Make sure that you set a suitable cap on small groups to avoid the experience being overwhelming; 10 is ideal, although 20 is workable. Get team members to bring a drink to enjoy, and pre-plan discussion points or just let the conversation flow as you would normally. Being able to sit back and trust employees to gel in this context is one of the key leadership qualities you should foster.

3. PLAY ONLINE GAMES TOGETHER

Gaming may not be everyone’s favorite pastime, but there are lots of multiplayer experiences that are great for team bonding. Fostering cohesion in this way can even be one of the pros of telecommuting that would not necessarily apply to the office.

In terms of the team-building games themselves, popular options include the trivia-based JackBox.tv titles and the Scrabble-inspired Words With Friends.

4. SET AN ICEBREAKER CHALLENGE

Activities that engage remote workers’ brains are the best to pursue, so establishing a hypothetical scenario and asking people how they would cope can spark a lot of fun and debate.

A fun icebreaker question is to ask team members to think which 3 items they would take to a desert island to survive after being stranded on a limited list. This icebreaker will get people talking and stimulate their imagination.

5. RUN A BOOK CLUB

Whether or not a book club is already part of your team’s activity schedule, this works well for remote working as it does when face-to-face meetings are possible.

Be sure to choose books that are accessible, enjoyable, and interesting. Length also matters, so avoid picking “War and Peace” unless you want to spend weeks waiting for everyone to finish and meet up.

6. SET FITNESS GOALS

Working remotely can reduce the amount of physical activity that team members get each day, so you can capitalize on this by getting remote employees to choose their own fitness goals and aim to complete them together as constructive teamwork.

Be sure that this is handled sensitively and do not put undue pressure on a member of your team for whom fitness and exercise may not come easily.

7. ENCOURAGE NON-WORK-RELATED TALKS

While virtual meetings and conference calls are all well and good, sometimes it’s nice to talk about things other than work without being scrutinized by lots of other people in real-time.

To that end, partner people in small groups with one another and ask them to become pen pals, corresponding via email about their days and boosting each other’s morale through this online team building.

8. GET CRAFTY

When working remotely, team members may have more time on their hands freed up by not needing to commute daily.

This can make completing craft projects together an entertaining option for team-building events. Whether you decide to take up pottery, woodwork, knitting, or any other craft-related hobby, doing this while chatting with colleagues on Zoom can eradicate feelings of isolation in a fun way.

9. TAKE HOME TOURS

As team members may well live long distances from one another, a remote working scenario could be the ideal opportunity to let them show off their abodes and also display a bit more of their personality to their remote team members.

Each member can be given the chance to show everyone around their home, either in real-time or by filming clips and editing them together.

10. SHARE PERSONAL PHOTOS

Seeing pictures of someone as a baby or from their youth can be a fun way to engage with others in a work environment.

Get team members to send you photos of them in their youth, collate them all together and then share them with the rest of the team in a video chat, then get attendees to guess the identity of each pic.

Read more about virtual team-building ideas here.

Most importantly, listen to each member of your team and work out which team-building activities for remote teams will best suit their personalities and needs. Being responsive and open to feedback is the best way to improve your management of virtual offices.

Talent Development in the Age of AI

HUMAN SKILL PROGRAMS ARE HITTING LIMITATIONS...​

5 THINGS THIS FREE RESOURCE WILL TEACH YOU