You can no longer dismiss the fact that more and more people are working from home. In fact, 37 percent of US workers said they had telecommuted. That's an impressive increase from the 9 percent who said the same in 1995.
The reasons shouldn't need to be explained in depth.
Technology has made it completely possible for employees to work wherever they want. As a result, businesses are saving money since they don't need large offices.At the same time, they're able to tap into a larger talent pool.
As an added perk, remote employees say they are happier at work and feel more valued.
But, that doesn't mean that you should leave them out in the cold. They also need to be motivated. And, here's what you can tell your remote workers to keep them motivated.
Communicate frequently to offer positive feedback and show gratitude.
Regular communication keeps your team in the loop and make them feel like a part of the team.
Kristen Chirco, Retail Program Manager for E Group, suggests that managers and leaders "use technology and social media to enhance the team's relationship with platforms such as instant messaging, screen sharing, and webinars."
Chirco adds, "It's often better to over-communicate than to lose touch and not have a clear understanding of an employee's projects."
Make sure that you schedule frequent check-ins so that your remote workers don't feel neglected. While you're at, give them access to access to mission and vision statements, along project updates and organizational performance records
This also gives you the chance to see how they're work is going so you can provide positive feedback.
That's is paramount for remote workers. They're assigned a project, have completed it by the assigned deadline, and then only hear back from you when something's wrong. It's motivating because it makes them feel like a robot instead of being a key member of your team.
When the employee has earned it, don't hesitate in sending them an email or phone to praise their work. In the past I've worked with a team where the team leader gave shout-outs to someone who went above and beyond in the monthly newsletter.
And, don't forget to say "thank you."
Research shows that thanking a new acquaintance for their help will make them more likely to establish ongoing social relationships.
In another study of 70 students who provided advice to younger students, only some were thanked for their advice. However, those who were thanked were more likely to provide their contact details for the mentee.
Make time for small talk.
As I just mentioned. When managing a remote it's easy to fall into the trap of only communicating with them when assigning work or when there's a problem.
That's not to say you should completely keeping communication short and to the point. You're also on a deadline and sometimes you just have to talk about what needs to get done and move on.
However, you also need to build a rapport with your remote workers. This means getting to know them as a person. When checking in with them, take the time to ask how they and their family are doing and dig into their interests and passions. It's a simple way to show that you actually value them.
Bonus tip: When chatting with your remote workers don't forget to say their name. "Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language," wrote Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People.
In fact, there's evidence that unique brain patterns occur whenever we hear our own names, as compared to hearing the names of others.
Place an emphasis on what is produced, rather than when.
Unlike traditional nine to five gigs, remote workers can pretty much set their own schedules. As such, you should encourage them to work during their most productive advantage.
For example, if one remote worker is more productive in the evening, and their position doesn't require interaction with anyone during business hours, then allow them to work during that time.
If others are early risers who are known to complete a project before noon, then let them perform during that time without unnecessary restrictions.
Remember their career paths.
Don't forget that your remote team members also have goals and aspirations. Again, they're not robots. As a leader, you should by guiding them in making progress on achieving those goals.
One way to do that is by understanding their career paths and offering opportunities for them to work towards that. For example, during one of your conversations you're told that the employee has an interest in project management. If you're familiar in that area, then offer advice, share content, and allow them to eventually take the lead on a project.
Remote employees may be at home producing, but are they meeting your expectations?
Remote workers also need clear direction of what's expected of them in terms of objectives and company goals.
In a piece for Forbes, Victor Lipman states that ,"If expectations are completely clear, and preferably mutually agreed-upon, it helps to bring the entire remote working arrangement into clearer focus."
Needless to say, setting expectations is a key motivator for remote workers.
Assist with time management.
Time management is a daily struggle for remote workers. That's because with the freedom of working wherever they like, they're also handling household chores, taking their kids to school, battling distractions, and staying focused.
Make sure that you provide the right tools and training that can help remote workers better manage their time. It's another way to show that you care and value them as team player.
Adopt collaborative project management tools like Asana, Basecamp, or Trello. Don't forget about time tracking tools and apps that can block distracting notifications and websites. Here are a few additional ways I've put together to regain motivation if lost.
"Because" is one of the two most important words in blogging. And, it's also one of the top words for motivating others.
Social psychologist Ellen Langer actually tested the power of "because" by asking to cut in line at a copy machine. She tried three different ways of asking:
60 percent of those she asked let her cut in line by asking the first question. When she used "because," that jumped to 94 percent and 93 percent, respectively.
In other words, when you want people to take action, give a reason.
Additionally, Darlene Price, author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results, adds that cause-and-effect reasoning works because it "makes your claims sound objective and rational rather than biased and subjective."
Price offers a list of additional cause-and-effect phrases that include:
But, Tim David of Magic Words, takes this further with what he calls the ABT (Advanced Because Technique).
"The idea behind ABT is to get the person to say 'because' to themselves. Instead of giving someone a thousand reasons to do something, try asking them, 'Why?' When you do that, they will fill in their own 'because.' Now it's their reasons, not yours."
Use animated gifs and emoticons to convey emotion.
Since a bulk of communication is now nonverbal, it's can be challenging for words alone to convey how you feel about something. This can be especially true in work since your words can come across as aggressive or not that impactful.
That's why you should consider incorporating animated gifs and emoticons to your messages.
For example, when a team member did great work find a gif on a site like giphy.com that conveys your excitement while also praising them in text. You can get a similar effect by using emoticons.
It may sound amateur, but even a simple smiley face is enough to show that you really meant it when you said "Good job" or "Thank you."