Here's how to get started:
Get clear about needs and goals.
Have your team work together to define clear team goals. What things must be worked on as a team? How often? What does the team need to learn? Plan and structure team meetings to achieve those specific outcomes.
Team time is important for collaboration and idea generation. It’s important for problem solving and process improvements. Team time is also important to have discussions about what people are worried about, answer questions, and calm uncertainty.
They drive Individual productivity. If you define clear desired outcomes for content, schedule and quality—it should not matter when or where employees do the work—as long as they deliver.
If you’ve given someone clear direction on required outcomes and defined stretch goals, you never have to make a personal judgment about whether someone is working hard enough. Clearly defined and measured results tell the whole story. But if you are vague on expectations, productivity will decline. You get what you measure.
Create an atmosphere of flexibility.
One of the reasons people like working outside the office is that they feel in control and they feel trusted. That is good for motivation and productivity. I am a big believer in treating people like humans (not as resources) and acknowledging that they have a life that matters outside of work.
If you give people schedule flexibility to deal with daily daycare drop-offs and pick-ups and school events, or allow them time away to care for sick family, in my experience, they become much more motivated, loyal, and productive.
People will move mountains for you if you respect them as people, and don’t force them work on a very specific, lock-down schedule when it doesn’t matter.
Don’t fall hostage to physical boundaries.
I used to think that I could only do team building activities during the moments when I could get my team together physically. But then I realized that I was being uncreative and that there are actually many possibilities.
You can’t let a lack of physical presence keep you from establishing team camaraderie, and building team performance. With a little bit of effort and the use of technology, there are many ways to do team building virtually.
First get your head around having a virtual meeting just for the purposes of doing team building. Schedule it and don’t talk about status or projects. Create a template ahead of time that everyone fills in with things like, photos related to their favorite hobby or vacation, favorite books, movies, music. Better yet, let the team crowd source what they want to put on the template.
Then have a team building meeting where everyone shares what they prepared and the whole purpose of the meeting is to have fun and get to know each other better. Get in the habit of using video instead of audio only.
I was pleasantly surprised at how this type of effort could create such strong personal relationships and that trust could be built even if people had never met.
Keep open dialogue around career development.
Another important factor in motivation is that people feel that there are career development opportunities. When you don’t work in the same place as your boss, or if you are working from home, sometimes the idea of a career path seems absent, or people assume they are on their own.
If you want to build motivation and loyalty, don’t forget to include career development conversations with your employees. Investing in your employees' development is motivating and shows them there is a reason to continue to invest their best efforts in making your business successful.