As your team begins to return to work, that may mean a portion (or all) of them will continue working from home. With remote work becoming a long-term solution for more and more employers, it is important to know how to keep your team motivated on an ongoing basis. Here are some ways you can be sure your team is efficient and productive, no matter where they are working from.

Resist the Urge to Micromanage

Without your team in your physical line of sight, it can be enticing to overstep your normal management routine and increase check-ins and daily productivity. While it is always a great idea to have a handle on what each employee is working on, and the deadlines for those activities, you do not want to overwhelm anyone with too much questioning. They're your team, and you hired them because you trust them. Now is a good time to focus on the achievements they reach and help them work towards their future goals. This will allow them to focus on the work at hand, and not distracted by constant questions and check-ins. Your trust in them will be their motivation to perform!

Regularly Challenge Your Team

Day-to-day work can become mundane for people who like to be challenged. When someone isn't challenged, they can become complacent and less likely to push for excellence. Establish what the goals are for each individual and give them work assignments that fall outside of their normal wheelhouse. This will allow them to grow and see past their current potential limitations. You can also foster growth by allowing for learning opportunities through online courses or conferences in any area of interest.

Establish Open Communication Channels

It can be easy to assume that your remote team is happy if you don't hear from them with complaints. Unfortunately, this can mean that you haven't set up consistent, easy communication channels with them, where they feel comfortable bringing up any issues they are experiencing. Likewise, remote workers often feel disconnected from their coworkers. Make sure you utilize technology to keep everyone connected to you and each other, including collaboration software, chat platforms and video conferencing.

Optimize Your Workflow

With a remote team, it is important for each person to understand their job function, and how it fits into the larger function of the organization. People who understand the "why" behind the work they are doing and understand how important it is to the success of the company as a whole are more likely to be motivated to do their part (and do it well!) As things change in your organization, be sure you update your workflow, and communicate that to your remote team. It is also important for remote employees to understand the team structures within your organization, so they know who needs what information. To avoid any miscommunication, make sure you update the teams on any changes, and give the reasoning behind the change where applicable. This will take the guesswork out of the equation for remote workers and help them feel more involved with the company.

Cultivate Remote Work Culture

This may sound counterintuitive to a degree, since it's harder to establish a sense of culture when your team doesn't see one another regularly. However, you can work around the physical distance with regular, scheduled team check-ins. This allows everyone to see each other and discuss the work at hand. Also, make sure you have a channel for fun. Since the remote workers are missing out on office conversations and relationship building, you can mimic these activities with a watercooler hour (or happy hour) where the only topic is anything but work. This allows team members to get to know one another on a more personal level and feel invested in the success of the team. You can also plan virtual team-building activities including storytelling workshops and virtual painting. While this may seem cliché, it can help team members to feel included in the larger culture of the office, and more likely to help them feel like their success is part of the company's success.

Just as in-office employees need motivation, the same goes for remote workers. By establishing trust up front, and engaging employees in the workflow and personal fronts, you can maintain a productive remote workforce in perpetuity!

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