With 58% of businesses planning to stay partially remote and another 26% remaining distributed for the foreseeable future, it’s the perfect time to learn how to motivate remote employees.

58.25% of companies plan to combine remote and in-office work in the future

Motivation is a common concern for all kinds of leaders. A concerning 29% of employees claim they’re not motivated at work. If you’ve ever dealt with an unmotivated team, you know how frustrating it can be for everyone involved.

When your remote team lacks motivation, it can be challenging to turn things around. Motivation is one of the things we’re great at. The Hubstaff team has worked 100% remotely in a dozen different time zones since 2012.

Whether you’re new to remote team management or have years of experience leading at a distance, this article will teach you to diagnose and fix motivation issues in your remote team.

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How to measure team member motivation (Survey Template)

The first step to any improvement plan is to find your baseline. If you don’t have a starting point to work from, how will you know if your efforts make a difference?

Survey template graphic

There are several ways to get a general idea of your team’s mindset, like monitoring absenteeism rates or checking in with each team member. That said, the best way we’ve found is to conduct a motivation assessment survey.

Here are some quick tips for a survey: 

  1. For best results, don’t ask more than ten questions. Try to keep your survey short. It should be a quick and easy task for your team to complete. 
  • e.g., Do you feel stimulated and engaged with your work? (Yes/No)
  1. Ask questions to help you understand the relationship between the team member and their direct manager.
  • e.g., How often does your manager take your suggestions into consideration? (Never/Once in a while/About half the time/Most of the time/Always)
  1. Finish the survey with a few open-ended questions to better understand what motivates your employees.
  • e.g., What could we do to improve your job motivation?

Busy team members are more likely to skip open-ended questions because they take longer to answer. At the same time, those open answers are often the most insightful for you as a leader. Choose a couple of essential questions and save the rest for later.

Want help creating your questionnaire? Get our free template here:

9 strategies to keep your team motivated remotely

1. Set clear expectations

It’s hard for your team to be motivated about their work if they don’t know what you expect them to do or accomplish. Be clear about each team member’s responsibilities and your company’s overall goals.

When setting expectations regarding performance, be specific. For example, your customer support team members should know that you expect them to have an average satisfaction rating of 4 stars throughout the year.

Performance expectations must be realistic and something team members can directly influence. Otherwise, they might backfire and leave your team feeling unmotivated.

2. Show team members how they contribute to company goals and reward hard work

Wondering why you’re doing a task, especially if it’s boring, can make you hate doing that work. Show team members how their work contributes to company goals so they understand why that work matters. 

Hubstaff for e-commerce

Motivating remote team members is a lot easier when you help each employee see how their job serves the bigger picture. Start by sharing results with team members. You can do this through company-wide meetings, public dashboards, or internal reports.

On an individual level, talk to your team members about the importance of their roles and the reasons you want them to accomplish specific tasks. Then, acknowledge when they’ve done a good job on said tasks.

That leads us to our next idea.

3. Recognize achievements

According to a Harvard Business Review study, 40% of employees would put more effort into their work if management recognized their actions more often. Apart from improving motivation, team member recognition increases retention and loyalty.

At Hubstaff, we have a Slack channel called #hubstars where all team members are encouraged to call out their co-workers’ achievements.

#hubstars Slack channel

4. Check-in regularly

Check-ins allow you to gauge motivation on an individual level and address any issues that might be getting in the way.

At a minimum, check in with each team member once every two weeks. Check-ins should be one-on-one so you can honestly discuss how things are going and spend time on career advancement and development opportunities.

For an effective one-on-one meeting, make sure to:

  • Prepare a meeting agenda – Write down your talking points and expectations. Ask your team member to add topics they’d like to discuss to the agenda before the meeting.
  • Ask open-ended questions – Some of your team members might have difficulty opening up during one-on-one meetings. 
  • Discuss career goals – Always leave some time to discuss career goals. Ask where they see themselves in a year or two, then set goals to help them get there. Maybe you need to set aside time for skills training or ask them to take the initiative and suggest improvements.
  • Make notes – Remember to make notes during the meeting. Write down the topics you discussed and note any additional comments that might be helpful for your next meeting.

5. Trust your team 

If you want to motivate remote workers, the best thing you can do is trust them to do their job. Second-guessing your team or resorting to micromanagement can harm team morale and lead to productivity issues.

Once you assign a task to a team member, let them do it without interfering — unless they ask for help. That’s actually one of the reasons we created Hubstaff. Instead of interrupting work by asking for progress updates, Hubstaff gives you the visibility you need to see that the work is getting done. 

When you delegate a task, be clear about the results you expect to see. Accept that sometimes a team member won’t perform a task exactly as you would — and that’s okay. 

6. Help employees set up a dedicated workspace

While remote work has plenty of benefits, it can also be challenging. You can address this by providing team members with a budget to set up a private workspace at home. 

Some might benefit from noise-canceling headphones to reduce interruptions, while others might need an ergonomic chair to prevent back pain. This budget will allow employees to prioritize the necessary equipment and accessories. 

You can also consider letting employees use the budget to pay for a coworking space. These budget-friendly offices provide internet access and basic amenities such as meeting rooms and printers.

7. Take care of your team’s health

The fact that motivation drops when team members feel unwell should be no surprise. To avoid this, you must devise a strategy for caring for your team’s health.

A gradual transition is less stressful and more practical.
A gradual transition is less stressful and more practical.

Start by paying more attention to your team and whether they feel tired or stressed. While this might be more challenging as a remote workforce, it’s not impossible.

You can motivate remote teams with one-on-one meetings, surveys, and participation in optional group discussions to gauge how team members are feeling. Just make sure to discuss this with your team before implementing any changes. Wellness programs can be a significant investment, so choose things you know your team will use.

8. Encourage passion projects 

Passion projects are an excellent outlet for creative energy. At Hubstaff, our #hobbies Slack channel is where we showcase our passions and inspire new projects.

Jared Brown post in the #hobbies Slack channel.

Fun fact: Did you know that some of Google’s most successful products, such as Gmail and Google Ads, were team member passion projects?

You can bring up passion projects during one-on-one meetings. Ask each team member what interests them and what they’d like to work on if given the opportunity.

If your team members express a desire to build or create something new, encourage them and provide a way to make it happen. 

We understand that there isn’t always time to prioritize this work. Consider letting team members use 10% of their work hours on a passion project. You never know what they could stumble into.

9. Provide opportunities for professional growth and development

Team members can get discouraged if they don’t see how to grow and develop. They might even start looking for better opportunities elsewhere.

To prevent this, talk to your team about their goals and articulate and create paths for advancement. Ensure you advertise all your new job openings internally so current employees can apply.

The easiest way is to give your team a professional development stipend to spend on books, courses, and other educational resources. At Hubstaff, we have a freedom stipend that team members can use for whatever they want:

Cristina Cadima post on Slack.

It’s crucial to inventory your team’s skills and knowledge before deciding on development opportunities. This insight will help you understand which skills they lack and what type of training they would benefit from most.

Motivating remote employees is non-negotiable

When you take the necessary steps to motivate remote employees, lots of good things happen.

  • Increased productivity – If team members are highly motivated, they’ll work faster and contribute more, boosting their productivity.
  • Reduced absenteeism – Motivated employees are happy to be at work and less likely to be absent.
  • Improved proactiveness – Motivated team members tend to be more proactive and look for ways to improve how the company does things.
  • Reduced team member turnover – Motivated employees are more likely to stay at their current job. 

At a high level, employee motivation is related to what people want. The core of motivating is helping your team see how they can get what they want from their work, whether it’s personal fulfillment or a feeling of importance. 

Help your team get what they want, and they’ll take your company to the next level.

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Category: Remote