Even before COVOID-19 forced more people to work from home, there was already a surge in working from home. In fact, from 2005 – 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work. That figure would come out to roughly 3.4% of the population.

And while that’s all well and good, for both your productivity and health — it’s also challenging to motivate your team from a distance. The good news? There are ways, such as the following twelve tactics, for you to achieve this goal.

1. Check-in with them frequently.

“Human beings are social creatures by nature, which is inherently in conflict with remote work culture,” writes Ryan Bonnici in a previous Entrepreneur article. “And for every study that demonstrates the efficiency of remote work, there are medical and social scientists revealing the enormous consequences of social isolation,” he adds.

How can you help reduce this psychological toll on your team? Well, use technology to touch base with them often. Tools like Zoom, Highfive, Slack, and Microsoft Teams allow you to collaborate and stay connected with your remote team. There’s also Marco Polo. It’s an app that lets you send video messages to others that they can check when they have the availability.

2. Trust them.

Not everyone is cut out for remote work. But, those who prefer to work from afar do so because of the flexibility. So, go ahead and grant them that.

That doesn’t being completely hands-off. You still need to clearly define responsibilities, expectations, and deadlines, as well as checking in on them. But, beyond that, there’s no need to be micromanaging them. Get out of their way and let them do their thing. It’s a simple way to keep them engaged and motivated.

Another way to show your team that you trust them? By emphasizing what is produced instead of focusing on when and how much.

3. Implement a recognition program.

Creating a culture of recognition should always be a top priority for you. After all, it’s a surefire way to retain top talent, boost engagement, and encourage high performance. But, you already knew that. The problem is that you may not know how to implement this virtually.

Well, that shouldn’t be a concern if you use the following checklist from Justworks;

  • Identify the behaviors, which should be aligned with your values, that you want to reinforce.
  • Determine who is eligible for rewards and how often they’ll be given.
  • Have a structure in place to help you select candidates.
  • Select the type of award you want to give out.
  • Let your team know about the program through a group email or meeting.

4. Help them solve their time management problems.

It’s hard to maintain your motivation when time management is an issue. After all, when you struggle in this area, you aren’t producing your best work, more likely to miss deadlines, and unable to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The solution? Help them with any of their time management problems by:

  • Stress the importance and benefits of time management to them.
  • Set goals together.
  • Focus on quality, not quantity.
  • Help them identify what’s causing their time management problems so that you can come up with solutions.
  • Reward their success through incentives or even just a handwritten thank you note.

5. Invest in their skills and development.

A key driver in retaining and motivating your team is helping them improve or learn new skills. In a perfect world, you could do this through mentorship or providing in-house training opportunities. Since this isn’t possible, you’ll have to do this via online learning platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, or LinkedIn Learning.

6. Create a virtual water-cooler.

Water-cooler chats often get a bad rap. But, they’re beneficial. Studies have found that these personal interactions make work more enjoyable and meaningful. They also foster a healthy and collaborative work environment. And, these informal conversations can boost productivity, spark creativity, and help people practice their conversational skills.

Of course, when you have a team working from all over the world, these water-cooler talks aren’t possible. But, you can create a virtual water-cooler by;

  • Always be friendly in how you communicate with others. It also wouldn’t hurt to convey your emotions through animated gifs and emojis.
  • Create events like video presentations and webcam hangouts. You could also encourage your team to play online games against each other or start a book club.

7. Create a visual scoreboard.

“Even if your team regularly communicates and has a culture of accountability, they still need a way to capture shared goals,” writes the folks over at 6Q. “Creating a visual that represents progress not only motivates employees with a competitive streak but also clarifies key performance indicators and priorities for the entire team.”

A straightforward way to do this would be to create “a spreadsheet that tracks progress over time or produce a PDF of fancy graphs that represent quarterly goals, choose a consistent method easy to digest for your entire team.” You could also schedule “weekly or monthly meetings to update the scoreboard and periodically realign to be sure the data you measure reflects your business’s initiatives.”

8. Take an interest in your team’s workspace.

You don’t want to overstep your bounds here. But, this shows that you genuinely care about your remote workers and want them to succeed. That’s why Automattic, creator of WordPress, gives its employees state-of-the-art technology and $2,000 to build a home office. At Calendar, we’ve shipped out Autonomous SmartDesks to team members, as well as voice assistants, to help our team members upgrade their home offices.

9. Take the good with the bad.

Research by the psychologist, Roy Baumeister, shows that “people are more strongly impacted by bad events, such as negative feedback,” writes Nell Thayer Heisner. “To avoid letting setbacks hinder the success of a project, managers must address them outright and be sure to counteract critique with positive reinforcement of good thinking and contributions of workers who may have gotten off course.”

“When keeping this in mind, workers will continue to move forward rather than looking behind at past mistakes,” adds Nell. In turn, the entire team will “make progress and effectively collaborate to advance toward the goal.”

10. Always pay them on time.

Besides the legal obligations, this is one of the easiest ways to show your team that you appreciate everything that they do. Sure. There are other ways that you can do this, like writing them handwritten notes or surprising them with gifts. But they need that money to survive. So, if you can’t provide that for them, then they’ll undoubtedly go to someone else who can.

11. Get to know them.

Although this may not seem possible at first, it’s pretty easy—issue surveys and polls. Schedule telephone one-on-ones and solicit their feedback. And, if possible, try to meet with them in-person occasionally — especially when they work for you many years.

Remember, face-to-face meetings are 34 times more successful. If this isn’t an option, at least give video conferencing a try.

Another option? Have your team take a personality test. That may sound a bit much. But, it can help you determine what your team member’s strengths and weaknesses are, communication preferences, and how they make decisions.

12. Cut out the unnecessary.

While you should get to know your team members, there is such a thing as too much communication with them. As such, make it a point to only schedule meetings and phone calls when necessary. If they are, then make sure that they’re short and concise.

The same is true with emails, texts, and Slack. Contacting them too much doesn’t just distract them. It may also be a sign that you’re a micromanager or don’t respect their valuable time.