I don’t know about you, but as a manager I see 10-20 articles a day about ‘How to Motivate A Remote Workforce” with abstract and obtuse advice like, “create a great incentive plan” and “add fun.” Clearly these things are meant to be motivating and helpful, but in an already packed day and in an ever-changing society (how long will we really be remote?) – and I am only speaking for myself here – when am I going to be able to carve out a few hours to create this so-called “great incentive plan” (and what if I don’t have the means to go beyond what I am already providing?)…and aren’t I FUN already?? 

Having been a manager for over 17 years, sometimes of remote workforces and sometimes not, here is my sage and ridiculously easy to implement advice that can make an impact right now:

  • Encourage real lunch breaks. It’s easy to sit down at your home office…and never get up.  Or, bring lunch to your desk. With many families at home together, encourage your employees to take the time to step away and eat with them.  Or work on their fitness. Whatever. Just not work on work.
  • Limit Office Hours. Say wha? Yes. I find myself waking up like I normally would, but instead of having to commute etc, I sit down at my desk to work.  Then, I look at the clock and it’s already 6:30! If you are doing this, it is setting the precedent for your employees, too. If you just cannot help yourself, try to refrain from IMing, calling them or emailing them outside of typical hours. It’s hard, I know.  But, think of how lovely it would be if your boss did the same for you…
  • Say ‘Thank You’ at least once a day to each of your direct reports. ‘Thank you for the report,’ ‘thank you for making that call,’ ‘thank you for sending the funny meme to lighten the mood.’ You get the point.
  • Hold a virtual meeting simply for the sake of reconnecting. Try not to talk business.  Play a game, share virtual beers at the end of a Friday, talk about weekend plans…For those of you thinking this is a waste of company time, think about the cost of lost production because of low morale… According to this Gallup study, “engaged employees make it a point to show up to work and do more work — highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.”
  • Help them tackle challenges. Otherwise known as getting off your high-horse.  Ask your team what obstacles you can help them overcome for the day.  If may be menial paperwork, calling a customer for follow-up or nothing at all.  Just your asking means more than what you actually end up doing. 

504 words later. Short and sweet.  It doesn’t take much to show your appreciation for your employee’s efforts and I promise, they will appreciate your effort!