For in-house teams, it's easy to boost morale. You can buy pool tables, install office bars, and give away gym memberships. When a team member is feeling deflated, you can tell by their body language and tone. However, when you're managing a remote team, it's much more difficult.
You can't buy a pool table for everyone, right?
Additionally, since you're not face-to-face, it can take a long time before you even know that one of your team members is unhappy.
That's why remote teams need to approach morale differently. You need to understand why morale is low and address immediately, way before it starts impacting your team's efficiency and creativity. Thankfully, more often than not, there's one root cause that almost always lowers morale for remote teams.
How You Can Boost Employee Morale For Remote Teams
Often, the reason that remote teams have low morale is that they feel disconnected, and it's easy to see why. Remote work can be isolating.
Team members feel out of the loop, detached, and lonely.
They don't always feel like their ideas are heard.
Since you're not in an office, there are limited ways to communicate as well, making it more difficult to genuinely express your appreciation.
When these things occur, morale can dip and rapidly decline, impacting the quality employee creativity. That's why the most productive remote teams prioritize team morale.
They regularly find ways to make team members feel motivated and appreciated at work with creative, meaningful tactics.
The Team at Zapier. [Source]
1. Support Local Employee Passions And Causes
One of the best ways to support your team is to care about what they care about. For example, Zapier sponsors local events where their employees live, which helps their team members feel supported and seen.
You don't have to take the same approach, but overall, finding ways to support the causes, interests, and passions that your employees have can drastically improve their morale.
A few examples include providing free resources and professional tools, chipping in for education and training, and coaching and counseling your team.
2. Coordinate Weekly Virtual Coffee Meet-ups Between Staff
When you're in an office, it's easy to build relationships with your co-workers. Every meeting is face-to-face, and there's enough time in between calls, meetings, and work to catch up and learn about each other.
Obviously, doing this remotely is much more challenging, but not impossible. A great first step is to make one-on-one calls a part of your company culture. Each week, team members can meet up virtually over coffee or over lunch.
These calls can be short, between 15-20 minutes, and serve as icebreakers to help remote workers feel more connected.
With Steam, you can play virtual games from anywhere. [Source]
3. Schedule A Bi-Weekly Time To Play
Companies like Kahoot and Steam make it easy for remote teams to connect with interactive games you can play from anywhere. Many founders find that playing games boosts productivity and can bring team members out of their shells.
You can also do virtual photo contests, play icebreakers like "Favorite Things", or hold a virtual trivia night with prizes.
4. Equip Your Team With Fitbits And Collaborate On Fitness Goals
If you invest in team Fitbits or similar tech, you can collaborate on fitness goals. Everyone can set their personal goals, share progress updates, and encourage each other. It's a great way to get remote workers up and moving.
If your team isn't interested in exercise, you can also track and discuss personal goals, and have a weekly or bi-weekly meeting to review progress.
Let your team have down time to socialize. [Source]
5. Give Your Team Time To Talk About Game of Thrones
One of the best parts about working in-office is the banter. You go to the company water cooler and strike up conversations about Game of Thrones, talk about the most recent book you're reading, or a restaurant you tried last week. And these social interactions are essential to your team. It helps them connect and create real relationships.
If you don't have a company HQ, you can carve out time during a weekly meeting to talk about fun stuff, or create a separate channel where team members are encouraged to do so.
6. Experiment With Giftology
While material gifts aren't always going to be a long-term solution, rewarding your employees with thoughtful, meaningful gestures when they least expect it can definitely make them feel appreciated. Giftology, a book by John Ruhlin, explains how even gifts with a relatively low value can make a significant impact on the recipient.
The idea behind Giftology is that the gifts you give are symbols of your relationship, which is why temporary gifts, such as food, aren't as effective. Instead, you purchase gifts that reflect an inside joke, are of high quality or are philanthropic in nature. These demonstrate the importance you put on the relationship and reflects that to the recipient.
Boost Employee Morale With A Collaborative Virtual Space
We're living in a world where virtual reality is starting to make it possible to bring distributed teams into the same room. And when teams get into the same room, even virtually, you can find more creative ways to boost employee morale.
Since that technology is coming, and that's what we're endeavoring to create, it's looking like a more likely option for remote teams.