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As more and more businesses make what was once a temporary virtual working environment a permanent solution, some leaders are struggling to inspire their teams to perform. Zoom fatigue and a lack of in-person connection present difficult hurdles, and motivation can seem like it’s at an all-time low.
For insight on how to inspire a team to do their best work, 13 experts from Rolling Stone Culture Council each shared one motivational strategy that any company leader can use to get their employees feeling and working their best.
Send Care Packages
One of the major things we miss now that we’re working remotely is “water cooler talk” — the personal relationship-building conversations that happen when we’re not working. Instead of our yearly team trip, my co-founders and I sent “Camp Dagne care packages” that included a Dagne face mask, massage ball, Well-Kept Wipes, a pack of s’mores, etc. It was a nice opportunity to surprise and delight our team. – Melissa Shin Mash, Dagne Dover
Encourage Them to Separate Work Space from Personal Space
Encourage a separation of environment. If your office is in your living room, you’ll act like you’re in your living room and your employer and clients will notice. Given there may be physical limitations, a simple barrier like a hung sheet or a cardboard box wall can provide a sense of privacy, enabling a “work” attitude. – Niles Christodoulidis, Rebel Roots Farms, Inc.
Center Conversations Around Quality of Work
Remote workplaces force leaders to have no choice but to abandon the tradition of supervising team processes and instead focus on the quality of work. When the conversation is centered around quality of work, leaders can better motivate teams by acknowledging the value individuals have contributed to the common goal. – Andres Palencia, LATV
Share Goals in a Visible, Collaborative Workspace
Having a visible, collaborative workspace with weekly goals for each person on the team keeps everyone accountable to each other. Having visibility into each person’s goals and progress has really helped keep everyone on track. Visibility means that when someone is falling behind, another will give them a push to keep going. It takes the pressure off management. – Catalina Girald, Naja
Work Toward Building a Virtual Community
You have to do even more work than you did in the office to communicate with each other. This doesn’t necessarily mean setting up a ton of meetings, but it does mean figuring out ways to create a community. We adopted the ritual of doing a short five-minute internal podcast to send out each week to keep each other up to date, as well as setting up monthly happy hours to keep everyone connected. – Cassie Petrey, Crowd Surf
Facilitate Moments of Connection Among Team Members
Facilitate moments of serendipitous connection among the team, not just structured conversations around work. Provide a forum for your team to openly share and celebrate each other’s wins and celebrate them often. Remember that your team is working harder, being more productive and with fewer mental health breaks. Give them digital darkness days to improve their well-being. – Chris Schembra, 7:47
Set Clear Objectives and Talk About Them Often
I’ve been managing a remote team for the last six years. Setting clear objectives and communicating frequently are the keys to success. In my company, we start by defining annual goals for the organization and then we define three to four projects each department wants to tackle in the upcoming quarters. Doing this helps set clear expectations and makes performance reviews matter-of-fact. – Zach Wigal, Gamers Outreach
Establish Expectations, Then Get Out of the Way
People can and will be more productive and more loyal when you give them time and space to manage their workload as long as the deliverables and deadlines are clearly communicated. When you establish this trust, employees feel valued and will naturally want to contribute a better effort. – Matt Blackburn, ORDER
Focus on Flexibility and Opportunity
Focus on the opportunities and the flexibility provided by remote work. Schedule virtual reunions for the members of the team to talk to each other on a regular basis. Allow flexible schedules. Remind the team about the advantages of working from anywhere on the planet and encourage them to acquire new digital skills, paid for by the company. – Marietta Ulacia, Afro Latin Jazz Alliance
Let Teams Work During Their Peak Productivity Hours
Set clear, achievable goals supported by tools and teams to get things done in a virtual climate. Encourage teams to work within their optimal workflow state. I am most productive between 6 a.m. to noon. I then eat, meditate, exercise and run an errand. By 4 p.m., I am ready to rock again for a few more productive hours until about 8 p.m. when I sit down to a well-prepared meal. Everyone is different. – Erik Oberholtzer, Tender Greens / cohere
Encourage Employees to Safely Meet Up in Person
One thing that can be considered after the pandemic has been cleared is having “playdates.” It works for kids. You can set goals that are rewarded with this when met. It can be an outdoor activity, dinner — be creative. Perhaps ask your employees what get-togethers make safe sense. Spend some money here because you hopefully are saving on the rent with your workforce at home. Gift cards are a plus for individual effort. – Michael Polk, Billboardology.com
Proactively Connect Different Departments
One of the challenges of remote work is connecting across departments. Without proactive intervention, natural silos can deepen and damage company culture. We set up random rotating groups of three employees to meet biweekly. Since the groups change each time, employees get the opportunity to engage with co-workers they might otherwise never see. It has been a great way to stay connected! – Dan Giuliani, Volt Athletics
Show Up for Your Team
Show up. Show up for your teams, listen to them, share the load and don’t dismiss their needs. We have no idea what another person’s home life is like. Pick up their phone bill, send them a ring light or find a small way to tell them that you see how hard they are working to adapt. Together is the only way to get through it. – Cynthia Johnson, Bell + Ivy