Managing a project remotely brings about a host of new challenges; keeping a team engaged will take a little bit of adaptation. You’ll find a lot of the principles are the same, you’ll just need to find new ways to communicate to engage your team on a remote project.
Here, we’ll look at:
- Why engaging a remote worker looks different
- The process that you’ll need to adapt
- Some real-world examples of how you can engage your remote team
Making sure that you’re ready to bring your team into the business and make their work as rewarding and fulfilling as any onsite job.
Motivating a remote team
One of the biggest concerns of remote workers is the fear of missing out, or FOMO. People who aren’t always visible in the office feel like they can be forgotten about when it comes to rewards and promotions.
As a leader, you need to make sure that every person on your team understands that they add value. There’ll be some people who just want to see the difference they make to the bottom line, whilst others will want to feel appreciated on a more human level. It’s up to you to know what style works for your team and offer it.
Key things to do differently
The basics of what works to engage a team don’t change, although you’re probably a few points ahead already by offering the flexibility of remote working. As with many elements of managing a remote team, it’s all about finding new, tech-driven ways to do the same things.
The process to bringing in a new team member is crucial to engaging them long-term. It’s no good sending over a welcome manual in PDF format and a tired corporate video from last decade.
You still need to offer:
- Face to face meetings
- Content presented in an interesting way
- Quizzes and tests to check understanding
- Time for the new colleague to make personal connections
- Lots of interactivity with material and people
So the new recruit can learn about the project and their role in it.
With no coffee machine chats or few minutes in the lift together, finding out someone’s favourite TV show or how many dogs they have isn’t so easy. As a remote manager it can feel like every minute needs to be spent on producing an outcome.
Building relationships is vital, and it’s ok to schedule time for informal, or semi-formal conversations. Ensuring that you have plenty of time for your team to have one-to-one or small group contact with you and each other will make everyone feel valued and part of the team.
An office setting makes the internal hierarchy visible and it’s easy for employees to see what the person on the next rung up does each day. It’s not so easy in a remote team and this can cause a disconnect in everyone’s career path.
The options for career progression still need to be laid out and provided as options. Having a mentoring scheme to connect everyone with people higher and lower than them on the ladder will ensure job role familiarity.
You need to make sure everyone knows how they can build up their contribution to the project. Providing your team with KPIs that show how their work produces positive outcomes will give them something to aim for.
Make work rewarding
When you can’t bring in the coffee on a Monday morning or go for a working lunch, you need to be creative in how to reward your team. Making them feel valued is going to make them want to produce value for you.
We’ve put together some ideas that you can use to make your team valued for a job well done:
- Add credit to ecommerce accounts such as Deliveroo or Amazon
- Send gift baskets of products they like from local suppliers
- Provide a streaming service subscription
- Where possible, arrange an offline meeting for fun activities
- Have goodies delivered and hold an informal, online gathering outside of work hours
- Offer online training course subscriptions
By using this type of reward you’ll be ridding the idea of FOMO from your team because they’ll feel truly valued and considered.
Engaging your team in a remote project isn’t all that different to an in-office team, on a conceptual level at least. What’s important is finding way to adapt all of the methods you’ve learned already. Remote workers in general are more motivated and engaged, so you’re starting from a good position. Be sure to maintain that positivity with and effective introduction to the company, regular contact, and clear vision of how they can grow within the project and beyond.