As we head into fall and the uncertainty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely that your team is still working remotely. Employees may have even moved into different states to live with family members, or they may simply be working from the comfort of their own living room. Whatever the case may be, it can be difficult to get all employees on the same page when you’re suddenly faced with the challenges of managing a widely distributed workforce.
Engaging all employees and making sure they’re highly motivated and as productive as possible is vital to your overall success. Distance should never be something that stops your company from achieving your most critical goals, pandemic or not.
To help you stay on track, here are five, simple, straightforward, yet actionable ways you can boost morale (and productivity) in any distributed team.
When you’re in an office and have a quick question, it is easy to lean over and quickly ask a neighbor or other team member for their insight. At least it used to be. Yet now, working from home makes that type of quick information exchange difficult, if not impossible.
Most of the time, these types of questions don’t even require a formal meeting, email exchange, or even a phone call. At first glance, this may make it seem that, without the in-person connections, you could lose the valuable back-and-forth that employees need to remain productive.
This doesn’t have to be the case at all, especially with the right employee experience (EX) software. For example, modern EX platforms now include powerful messaging apps that make natural communication fast, easy, and effective. These apps make it much easier to communicate quickly and consistently, and any employee can quickly create a group chat, or even a specific channel dedicated to a certain topic.
“I can’t say this enough: Without HR Cloud, we could not have communicated important project information or demonstrated that we could take on an increased workload. We now provide real-time workforce statistics and productivity reports that have helped us win more projects.”
The benefit of these apps over email is clear: Email can be clunky and may lose the valuable, real-time insights if one employee is offline or just doesn’t answer in time. Additionally, email threads with multiple participants can quickly get off track or make it hard for employees to find the answers to a specific question. A simple chat (either one on one or with a group) eliminates all of these issues and provides the ideal way to share important information.
Weekly team meetings are another indispensable part of working with a distributed team.
In the past, in office-based environments, you probably held regular in-person meetings that kept everyone up-to-speed on the last updates related to projects, company details, or even employees’ personal development.
Yet now, remote team members may lose this connection and could begin to feel isolated. It may be hard for them to hear company announcements, learn how they’re performing, or how they may be able to help with a specific project or task. Holding regularly scheduled team meetings, ideally as often once once a week, lets your employees know what’s happening, any COVID-19-related changes, and even how they’re doing.
Tip: Not everyone has access to high speed internet or the right hardware, so be sure to take stock of everyone’s household amenities so you know whether anyone will have any roadblocks to completing work and attending meetings in the regular schedule.
Another benefit of working in an office (and that can be difficult to replicate in remote-working models) is an overall sense of purpose. Whether employees are focused on hitting a quarterly revenue target, finishing a huge website relaunch, or just staying on top of their own goals, instilling a sense of community will help the entire team keep their eye on the prize.
Knowing what they’re working toward, and how they are helping make a difference can be inspiring—and could give them the extra motivation they need while boosting team morale. Be sure to send out weekly or biweekly updates on the status of the larger project, so your team knows exactly where they stand and how they can keep improving the bigger picture.
Here are a few more ways you can give your team a bird's-eye view:
Develop or subscribe to a workflow dashboard that tracks your team’s progress in real time, showing when specific tasks are completed and how that affects the whole project.
During your weekly meetings, be sure to bring up the state of recent projects, and let team members know what they can do to help keep workflow efficient and optimal.
Make a work-wide calendar that shows general due dates and deadlines that must be met in order for your project to roll out on time. This can help visual learners stay on top of their personal priorities,
Once you’ve got a project rolling and your team onboard, it’s time to assess everyone’s personal progress. Back at the office, you may have had an employee of the month award, or you may have given bonuses to workers who completed their work above and beyond expectations.
It may not feel as important when you’re working remotely, but you should definitely keep these traditions going — or start them, if you didn’t have them before. Team members want to know that they will be rewarded for successfully taking on projects and showing leadership qualities. This will give them the morale they need to increase quality and output, too; it’s basically a win-win. If it’s in the budget, offer prizes or bonuses to employees who really stand out.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun with your team. Work isn’t always just about work — sometimes, letting off a little steam through a bonding event can be exactly what your team needs to feel more confident in themselves and in the company as a whole. Bonding while remote can seem like a challenge, but there are great options:
Video chat bar trivia or poll to unleash everyone’s inner nerd
Online multiplayer party games (paired with a video chat)
The simple, classic video chat happy hour
A watch party where everyone can tune in to see a streaming movie
Really, the options are endless once you get creative.
Don’t let morale sink just because everyone is working from home. With the right strategies, innovative techniques, and fun bonding events, you can boost your team’s spirits and get everyone in the right mindset to complete their work happily and efficiently.
For even more information on employee communication, collaboration, and engagement, we invite you to learn more about our Workmates employee experience platform. Sign up for a free, no-obligation demo to see how Workmates is changing employee management, in the new normal and beyond.
To learn more about giving access to vital HR and work information — even when they're not in the office. Download our ebook now.Download now
About Author: Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.