Companies around the country, and the world, are increasingly going remote. Working from home (or more exotic locations) has been on the rise for a while, and after the pandemic flipped most offices online, it looks like remote work is here to stay—at least for the near future.
Remote work has undoubtedly brought many benefits, but also a few problems that companies are looking to overcome. One of the major challenges businesses have highlighted — how to keep up the morale and motivation of remote employees.
However, by leveraging the tools that make up a modern digital workplace, there are plenty of things you can do. So, let’s take a look at 6 ways to keep remote employees motivated and rewarded for their work.
Weekly Lunch on The Company Dime
One of the key motivators in a traditional workplace is the connections a person has with the rest of their team. Through remote work, this can easily be lost. A weekly lunch on the company dime, while it may not seem like much, could be enough to create the cross-company connections that prove so beneficial.
And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to be treated to lunch?!?
What’s more, if your team is distributed across multiple locations (whether countries or states), this also opens up a pleasant opportunity for people to share their local culinary cultures. Open up a team-wide Group and let people add pictures, GIFs, and maybe even some recipes as they order in or head out for their remote company lunch.
A free lunch is also a good way to create some semblance of work-life balance, which can be a struggle for remote workers. If not kept in check, overworking can quickly lead to a lack of motivation, lack of morale, and potentially burnout. Giving employees a lunch on the company increases the chances they’ll get up from the computer and out of the house.
Half-Day Fridays (or Later Monday Mornings)
Another great way to promote a healthier work-life balance, reward your remote workers, and improve motivation is by bringing in Half Day Fridays. This isn’t a new concept and has its roots in NYC ad agencies letting employees skip out early on Fridays in the summertime.
While it might be scary to cut work time like this, studies have found an increase in productivity with half-day programs. One study found that about two-thirds of participants who were on a “summer schedule” reported having increased productivity.
Don’t just force a Friday break though, think about how you can best implement it for your company – it doesn’t have to be a half-day once a week. You could try flexible half days, alternating weeks, or anything that works for you and your employees. Some people may even benefit from a late start on Monday rather than an early finish on Friday.
As with all these tips, talk to your team to see what works best for them.
Half Day? Why Not a Full Day? Reassess Your Scheduling
It’s worth considering whether anybody needs to work on Fridays at all. There is an increasing body of research that shows a four-day workweek can maintain productivity levels while giving employees considerably more time away from their desks, reducing the risk of burnout and stress while improving health and work-life balance.
One way to reward and motivate remote employees could be to give them the freedom to wrap up their work in only four days per week. Remember that nothing has to be permanent, and it’s not uncommon for companies to test out different perks and see if they work before committing for good. Why not give the four-day working week a try?
Motivating remote employees doesn’t have to end with work. A company can help other aspects of their employee’s life through programs such as wellness reimbursements. This involves giving money back to employees to cover expenses such as gym memberships, yoga classes, meditation lessons, at-home gym equipment, etc.
Remember that wellness isn’t just about physical health, but mental health as well. Encouraging wellness in remote employees will help them, and you, through a reduction in stress, burnout and illness.
Allow for Autonomy in the Workforce
Give your remote employees autonomy over their work! While companies can be nervous about employees getting work done at home, demanding that everyone is tied to the computer during “normal working hours” can do more harm than good.
You can still track time and tasks to make sure the company is hitting its targets, but try to worry more about the work, and less about the worker. People can manage their own time and will thank you for letting them do so. Hovering (even digitally) will only harm remote workers’ motivation.
Sometimes that might mean that people are working at different times—some in the morning, others in the evening, maybe even taking a break to pick up the kids. Fear not, there are plenty of tools these days that are built for this kind of asynchronous working.
Take Time to Thank Staff for Hard Work in Team Channels
Regular check-ins on team channels can help team members to stay connected and also offer the opportunity to praise success. Everyone likes to be recognized for their achievements, and in a remote workforce, this can be hard unless you utilize shared channels.
Less regular, but more targeted, team-building activities via remote channels should also be considered. Video conferencing is a powerful tool for running online activities that can boost motivation.
Having said this, make sure that your team is the type of team that enjoys these activities. Otherwise, it can backfire. What’s more, never try to do this outside of working hours.
Encourage, Support, and Provide Professional Development
While free lunches and online team building can provide good perks, it’s also important to include tangible benefits in your remote motivation plan. One of the best ways to do this is to support professional development.
Find out if any of your remote team wants to expand or improve upon an area of their professional life, and try to make this happen. First, see if it’s possible through internal team members, otherwise look at how paid professional development can be supported.
What Not to Do: A Lesson from Google
In early August, Reuters revealed that Google employees who decide to switch to working from home permanently could face a pay cut, depending on their location. As is to be expected, the internet blew up over this!
Despite it being in line with Google’s normal location-based pay scale (which most major companies have), it was very short-sighted in terms of flexibility for remote workers. If a New York City office worker goes remote in a different part of the state, they will likely suffer a pay cut. But if they stay in NYC? No pay cut.
This kind of inflexible thinking and action, when it comes to modern remote working, is a sure-fire way to demotivate your remote staff.
Motivating Remote Workers: Let’s Keep it Brief
The most important thing to remember when trying to motivate and reward remote workers is: find out what they want. Give trust and be flexible in your approach to work and rewards, and don’t be afraid to adapt. Cut worktime, maybe even entire days. Explore new ways to support your staff professionally, through wellbeing, and in their own work choices.
For more information on how to motivate remote employees and other remote working issues, check out the Spike Blog. Alternatively, if your company has successfully introduced other perks, then let us know by tweeting @SpikeNowHQ with your story!