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Stacy Smith

The Struggle is Real: 5 Tips for Motivating Your Virtual Team

Stacy Smith / August 20, 2018 / 0 Comments

Let’s have a moment of complete and utter honesty. Being a part of a virtual team is both a blessing and curse. Someone had to say it.

It’s a blessing when you realize that it provides an opportunity to expand your selection of knowledge, skills, time zones, etc. I love those moments when it all comes together, and I clap my hands together in excitement like a two-year-old given ice cream (with sprinkles, obviously). On the flip side, it can be a real curse when you encounter the challenge of not having the everyday human interaction that you get from being in the same office as your team. I mean, who doesn’t miss being able to roll your chair like a racecar a few feet over to your coworker to brainstorm on a business initiative….or to find out what their plans are for Friday happy hour. Whatever comes naturally.

We all know that the struggle can be real with a virtual team, and to help arm employees to battle the challenge, I have put together my top 5 tips for keeping the motivation and energy at its highest while being a part of this remote team structure. Go ahead and take a gander.

1. Team Check-ins / SCRUMs

It doesn’t matter if you have this meeting in the morning or at night. It doesn’t matter if you have it for 5 minutes or 5 hours (Okay, 5 hours might be drastic, but to each their own). It doesn’t matter you can’t attend every day, as long as you make it happen. Nothing matters more to your virtual team’s camaraderie and self-esteem than having that moment in the day where you can come together as a group to joke around a little, discuss what is on your plate for the day, help remove any blockers and do a quick brainstorm session. It is even better if you can share your face over video conferencing. You’ll probably want to make sure your hair is combed from time to time…or all the time. You do you!

2. Instant Messaging

If you don’t have an instant messaging system, get one now, like right this moment. I’ll wait…
I guarantee that life will completely change for you and your virtual teammates the moment you implement an instant messenger. The constant communication and quick answers are a game changer. I don’t know anyone who has a two-second question with a two-second answer and wants to write an email that takes 2-48 hours for an internal response (eye roll). Talk about your motivation levels dropping. Having this communication channel decreases stress levels, increases efficiency and assists in more personal connections between teammates. Personally, my favorite instant messaging system is Slack. It’s what we use as a team at LeadMD – and everyone gets a Gif!

Remote Worker Having Fun

3. Random & Fun Distractions

Once you have an instant messaging system, anyone up for a little 21 questions? Work appropriate of course. It is critical whether you are on a virtual team or not to give your team small, but fun distractions throughout the day. Specifically speaking about a virtual team, nothing is worse than being by yourself while looking at a computer all day and no mental breaks. It is easy to feel out of the loop or like a teenager who is grounded and confined to their room for a night while all your friends are driving around town in a 1992 Geo Metro and living the dream. My point is, involve everyone from your team in the office and virtually to engage in non-work related games or questions to keep energy levels up. Everyone feels part of a team and ready to take on work items after a few laughs.

4. Positive Reinforcements

I’m sure this tip needs no explanation, but for sanity’s sake…encourage each other! Send an email to let them know they did a great job explaining why Michael Jordan will always be better than LeBron James. Compliment them through instant messaging on how you have noticed them taking feedback and instantly applying it. On a phone call, give them some constructive opportunities for improvement and let them know you believe in them. Nothing beats a few encouraging words to inspire you to keep going, especially when your virtual teammates typically have low interactions throughout the day.

5. One-on-One’s

Never underestimate the power of picking up the phone and calling your virtual teammate to see how they are doing and discuss their career path and their goals. This interaction is crucial for the motivation of those not working in an office because it is the one time they have to be open about work and life and more importantly, get your feedback. I have found these conversations to be very pivotal moments as this is when they really open up to you and together, you can help work through blockers and feelings and in the end, feel ready to get back to work and know you have a purpose.

The best thing you can do for your virtual team to let them know they are a part of the team and inspire them to be the best they can be.

Three key takeaways from this post that I’d encourage you to start doing today:

  1. Communicate regularly with your remote teammates and let them know that they matter,
  2. Seek out every opportunity to include them whenever possible, and
  3. Check-in with them daily.

On that note, I leave you with “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins playing the background and the simple message that you are a badass and it is time to rock n’ roll. Party on my friends, party on.


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