With shelter in place restrictions continuing to be enforced, remote workplaces are becoming our new normal. And while different and exciting at first, extended remote arrangements can easily wear down your employees’ ability to do their best work without effective people programs in place.
To discuss how to effectively motivate your remote employees as we settle into these long-term working conditions, we hosted a webinar 15Five and were joined by a panel of people leaders who have experience managing distributed teams:
- Jeff Smith, Director of Best Self Academy at 15Five
- Saloni Dudziak, Vice President of People at Sentry
- Massella Dukuly, Leadership Trainer at LifeLabs Learning
These experts took us through their favorite ideas to inspire motivation, accountability, and productivity with their remote workforces, which we’ve shared below. For more great HR webinars, continue to stay in touch via our Resources page.
Ideas to inspire motivation, accountability, and productivity.
What can companies do to ensure their teams are staying motivated, productive, and accountable - all while juggling the new realities of being fully remote? While it’s a lot to handle, there are several approaches organizations can take to make the transition a bit easier for their employees.
Address wellness concerns.
Given the uncertainty of current circumstances, employees are under a lot of mental and physical stress right now. This can make it difficult to focus on anything - let alone work. Companies can relieve some of this burden by offering solutions to address wellness concerns. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Offer wellbeing stipends. Sentry offers their employees wellness stipends that are encouraged to be used for both physical and mental health purposes. To help inspire ideas, the Sentry team also created a wellness guide that contains ideas on how to use the stipend, along with general tips about self care. They also rolled out a separate stipend for office resources to help their employees set up their at-home work spaces properly for maximum health and productivity.
- Do more soft check-ins. This is also a good time to conduct more ‘soft’ check-ins with your team. This means reaching out to people - outside of your more formal one-on-ones - to see how they’re doing and if there’s anything they need. This can be done via Slack, text message, or through a quick video chat.
- Get aligned. It’s important to approach your employees’ health with a realistic attitude. If you try to pretend that everything is normal and take on a “business as usual” approach, you’re not creating the space your teams may need to talk about their struggles - this may cause even more anxiety and stress. Instead, acknowledge that this is going to be a tough and emotional journey for everyone. But also get aligned around the fact that you will get through this together and still find ways to succeed as a company - despite the circumstances.
Find new ways to strengthen teamwork.
A huge part of what drives an employee’s level of motivation, work from home accountability, and productivity are their teammates. When your remote employees build strong relationships with the people they work with, they’re more likely to put in effort, keep everyone updated about what they’re working on, and feel inspired to produce their best work. Our panelists shared a few ways to strengthen teamwork while remote:
- Diversify the way you connect. The team at LifeLabs introduced the concept of “Speed Connections” to their organization. With this process, the team uses Donut to randomly pair people and encourages them to connect through a method of their choice - whether that’s email, text, or Slack. They then use prompts to encourage vulnerability, such as: What’s something you’ve needed to get off your chest? What’s an event or person that’s shaped your life in a big way? The purpose is to give employees a sense of autonomy while also building connections (instead of feeling pressured to join a ton of Zoom calls, which can be overwhelming for some people).
- Lean into virtual gatherings. Virtual community gatherings are also a great way to strengthen relationships on teams. At Sentry, the team regularly hosts fun events like cooking lessons and show-and-tells to keep each other feeling connected to one another. At Blueboard, we’ve also been finding ways to create space for our team to connect virtually. We use Slack to generate light-hearted conversation with initiatives like “Question Of the Day” in lieu of the spontaneous, in-person watercooler moments that we used to have at the office.
Recognize great work.
Recognizing the great work being done at your organization is an effective way to keep people’s spirits up. It demonstrates that you appreciate the efforts of your employees, especially during times when it may be more challenging to be productive and motivated. When it comes to recognition, there are a few options you can consider:
- Peer-to-peer appreciation: Having employees lift each other up is more important than ever. That’s why we created an appreciation note builder to allow people to send personalized notes of recognition and appreciation to a colleague, coworker, or friend who has gone above and beyond.
- Manager-nominated rewards: For above and beyond performance or key contributions (such as crushing a sales meeting or improving an important company process), manager-driven recognition is the way to go. This type of recognition is powerful because it strengthens the employee-manager bond and defines clear expectations for what constitutes reward-worthy behavior.
- Quarterly rewards: Finally, quarterly rewards are a great way to celebrate employees who achieve key accomplishments, check off major goals, or are truly living and breathing your company values. Just last week, we held our quarterly rewards ceremony at our Q2 kickoff meeting and were able to publicly reward and spotlight a few of our awesome employees who have lived our mission and values, or who have contributed to the impact of our company during this time of change.
How to measure what matters.
After implementing some of these ideas, you’ll want to gauge how effective they are. You can do this with performance management platforms like 15Five, which offer tools such as pulse surveys to make the documentation of progress easier. Before you dive in, however, you’ll want to make sure you’re measuring what actually matters - which may look different today than it did before COVID-19 hit. Here are a few tips on how to approach this:
- Set new expectations around “working with home”. There needs to be a conversation around what success looks like in this new remote world. Given that people are struggling to integrate their work and home lives in the same space, this means understanding that sometimes dogs or kids will make cameos during Zoom calls; that productivity can’t be defined by the number of hours you spend in your seat; and also recognizing that it may take some experimentation to understand what makes sense to measure. Work to create a healthy balance of work from home accountability and inspiring motivation.
- Revisit your goals. This may also be a good time to revisit your objectives and key results (OKRs) to make sure they’re aligned with your company’s new normal. This means adjusting your goals in a way that makes sense with what’s realistically possible. You may even want to consider setting company-wide key results that now focus on things like wellness, connection, and other factors that are now important to the success of the entire company.
While adjusting to our new remote work situation is challenging, there are many things you can do to continue inspiring motivation, accountability, and productivity among your remote employees. If you want to learn how recognition can help with these efforts, connect with our team here.
Stay tuned for more valuable webinars and upcoming events here on our Resources page.