David Green

May 27, 2020, 3:00 PM

Motivating your remote team

“Remember that not everyone is the same and that some team members may find remote working a challenge”

So, you have a very good team, all working from home. For much of the time, you can just let them get on with it. But there can be a fine balance between a hands-off approach and the very real risk that any one of them could feel left behind. While welcoming your confidence in their individual ability, your team will also be expecting support whenever it is needed.

Key to team motivation is good communication; and with this, technology clearly helps. With so many more people home working because of COVID-19, video conferencing has grown in popularity. Similarly, there has been interest in using project collaboration software applications like Trello or Miro; and some teams even have their own WhatsApp group. That said, the benefits of a regular keeping-in-touch telephone call should not be underestimated. Of course, it is through effective communication that you can take an interest in your team members, identify potential problems, check on their safety and welfare; and carry out supervision.

At present, team members may have little direct contact with each other, so you should consider how to encourage interaction and problem sharing. Providing encouragement and support to your remote teams has never been more important, but equally, you should avoid taking advantage of the often increased flexibility afforded by home-based working. We all deserve a decent work-life balance. Indeed, a happy team needs good mental health and a comfortable working environment.

Becoming an active listener is certainly no bad thing. To keep your team healthy and focused, regular consultation, feedback and review will help. But remember that not everyone is the same and that some team members may find remote working a challenge.

Clearly, managing and motivating a remote team requires good organisational support in terms of resources; and a leadership culture of trust and openness. A good starting point is a “remote workers” or “home workers” policy, that sets out what everyone can expect in terms of safety and welfare, communications, data protection, resources, expenses, insurance etc. But managing staff, whether home-based or not, can be challenging and those responsible need support too. One aspect of this is the provision of suitable coaching, training and development.

Ultimately, how well your organisation is coping with the current situation will influence what happens in the future. If it is doing well today, then there is no obvious reason why interest in remote working will not continue long after life returns to some kind of normal.