10 Things You Can Do to Improve Team Morale When Working RemotelyWritten by Gabriella Prasse on June 15, 2020
As a team leader, it’s your responsibility to keep up team morale. But how do you do that when managing a remote team? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We get just how overwhelming it can be to maintain multiple people’s morale on top of your own.
With this simple list, you can improve your team’s overall morale with little to no extra strain. But first, let’s discuss team morale and why it is important.
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Team morale has been described as “self-esteem, assurance, confidence, drive, humor and a good outlook in abundant supply within a group.” This definition is important because it directly reflects interest, motivation and work ethic within a group.
When team morale is high, team motivation is too.
This adds to why it’s important as a team leader to maintain high morale within your team. It’s also important because your team is made up of humans. They need to foster and maintain high spirits to avoid burnout. They need the support and guidance that only you can offer.
So without further ado, here are our top tips for improving team morale:
Check-in one-on-one with your team
Whether its text, email, phone calls or video chats, your team members need to have one-on-one time with you. It’s the same idea as randomly checking in on subordinates in an office setting. Just now it is scheduled.
This seems like it’s more for you than your team members, but even a little one-on-one time will help boost their confidence. It ensures that they feel like their work is important to you. It causes a sense of significance and belonging.
It also helps you keep better track of everything happening in your team, which can reduce stress and anxiety. It is truly a win-win situation.
Keep casual conversations throughout your team
Casual conversations, a.k.a water-cooler chats, are basic, mostly surface-level conversations. These conversations may seem like a waste of time when in reality they are vital to maintaining a sense of humanity amongst your team.
These chats are a short reprieve from work, and they encourage inter-team bonding. This can drastically improve team engagement and fluidity.
To do this remotely, set up a few group chats. One main one with every team member with the specific premise of being a water-cooler chat that’s not meant for any work talk. Next set up a few chats between people with similar interests and/ or personalities.
It’ll encourage bonds to grow and it might even encourage your team to make group chats of their own.
Have regular team “Get-Togethers” outside of work
This may seem like a weird thing because you work remotely, but hear me out. Having a regular video chat set up for your team to talk outside of work and see faces that aren’t in their households can do extraordinary things for team morale.
It may not seem like much, but having the experience of hanging out with other people lessens the feeling of loneliness. Which helps combat depression.
It may also be wise to set up extra video chats that you are absent from. This relieves the anxiety of their boss being in the chat, which makes these “get-togethers” that much more important.
But don’t skip out on all of them, you need this too.
Offer your support
We’re not talking about your run of the mill “my door is always open” type of support here. We’re talking about reaching out and starting supportive conversations.
Constructive feedback can be tied in with your one-on-one chats, or it can be an entirely different conversation. What’s important is that you are having these conversations.
Reach out once every week or two. Start the conversation by asking if there’s anything you can do to help them. Don’t be afraid to reach out anytime they seem down or upset. This shows them that you care. That you are truly there for them.
It makes them feel supported and a little less isolated. This can greatly improve their motivation and enthusiasm.
Ask them what you can do to improve
Asking your team what they believe you can be doing better on makes them feel like their opinions matter. Like they have a valued say in who you are as their leader. It encourages growth too because they are watching you grow.
This can be done with the whole group or one-on-one. We recommended that you do this via video chat. This shows them that you are actively engaged in the conversation and that you want their opinion.
It shows them that you aren’t just asking for the brevity of asking. And this encourages deeper engagement and a sense of increased value.
It may also help you to self-reflect and grow as a leader.
Recognize hard work and small accomplishments
Recognition goes a long way in improving morale. Hence, recognizing someone’s hard work, especially publicly, can greatly improve that person’s morale. It can also improve work ethic throughout your whole team.
When people see that their work and other’s work is valued it makes them want to work harder, to produce more.
Recognizing small accomplishments is important too. It acknowledges every little bit of effort and works put into a project. It shows your team members that everything they do, no matter the size, is important. This also improves work ethic.
Be transparent, establish trust
Building trust with your team hinges on how transparent you are. Your team needs to trust you, for your sake and theirs. Your team needs to see that you’re human too. You make mistakes, just like them. You work hard, just like them.
You are their leader, but you’re also their peer. You can keep your professionalism while showing your humanity. It is possible. And it’s more important than you think.
When you show your flaws, you show that you can be trusted. They see that you are in it too. You’re not just their leader, you’re their teammate. You are reliable.
Encourage a regular break schedule
When working remotely, we sometimes forget to take a break. Breaks are important because they are a quick rest and reset for your brain. Regular breaks ensure high productivity and energy.
Whether the breaks are five minutes long every hour or twenty minutes long every four hours, the breaks are vital. It’s also important that your team members set their breaks. They know their bodies and their limits.
All you need to do is encourage them to take breaks.
Working remotely can be a patience-testing, technologically trying, anxiety enduring waiting game. Take a few deep breaths, and remember that your team is experiencing the same thing as you.
Don’t lose your patience with them. Be a patiently calm rock in the stressful tidal wave that is remote working.
You are their leader, they take cues from you. The second you lose your patience is the second you lose control over your team. Remaining patient ensures that your team will remain calm and collected. This helps maintain high and positive morale.
Encourage peer learning
Finally, peer learning. What is it? “Peer learning should be mutually beneficial and involve the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and experience between the participants. It can be described as a way of moving beyond independent to interdependent or mutual learning.
With this in mind, why are we telling you to encourage peer learning? “Peer-to-peer learning in the workplace can enhance employee autonomy, collaboration, and professional development while encouraging innovative thinking.”
To encourage peer learning, set one team member every month to teach the team something new. This should be taught via video chat. It doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s something the others don’t know or aren’t well versed in. It could be about proper golf swing techniques, it truly doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you are building trust between team members, and encouraging communication growth. This betters your team in the long run, and it builds connections between team members.
Your team’s morale is easily improved via these 10 steps, but you mustn’t stop performing these actions. We’ve given you the tools you need to boost your team to the next level, now you just need to do it.
Good luck, team leader!