Motivation Killers at Remote Work: How to Avoid and Counter Them

a remote employee affected by motivation killers at remote work sits on couch

Getting remote employees motivated is a manager’s priority. While everyone tries to do their best for their teams, not every manager understands the important details that go into creating a motivational environment. The thing about motivation is, there’s hardly any middle ground. Its absence is unfortunate, but motivation killers are even worse. A lot of leaders seem to come out at the losing end of this equation. This is even truer with remote workers. There is a silver lining though.

You don’t need to have the skills of a motivational speaker to be a decent leader. First, it’s important not to kill existing motivation. Once you realize what really drives each member of your team, you can go a step further to build more of what drives them.  

Before all of that, you need to know the warning signs of a demotivated environment in order to hit the reverse gear and bring your team back to life. Following a few simple steps and offering small employee benefits can substantially reduce the loss of motivation.

What Kills Motivation at Remote Work?

1. False Job Descriptions

Create a true brand identity as an employer. Shining a flattering light on your company to attract customers is one thing. When it comes to remote employment, transparency is the name of the game. The fewer surprises, the better. It’s harder for remote employees to pre-assess a company from a distance. 

> Oh, by the way, we’ve created a guide on how to write a good job description. <

They might end up feeling deceived if you provide a job description that doesn’t really match the actual work they have to do after they’re onboarded. In fact, putting out the wrong job description could lead to getting the wrong employees.. A lose-lose situation. 

What will follow is an unhappy environment because neither the new hire nor you will be happy. This can then trickle down to the entire team and spiral out of proportion creating gloom and doom. It might sound exaggerated but in reality, it can really be a big motivation killer for all.

2. Repetitive Routines

Having a structure is fundamental for any business. When the plan turns into a dull routine though, is when motivation starts to fade. Remote employees might feel that everything is predetermined. They do a good job – so what? They do a bad job – so what? Remote employees can start taking their job for granted.. 

The same old routine with a process where nothing changes is a recipe for disaster. The work will always be done, but what will be the quality of that work? In addition to processes, the team also needs to have drive and ambition. After all, we’re humans and not machines.

Good work deserves recognition. Make remote employees’ contribution palpable. Show them their work drives the company forward. Nothing kills motivation more than making good ideas disappear along the corporate ladder.

Nobody likes to think they are merely a pawn. This happens more easily in remote employment. Make remote employees feel appreciated. Emphasize what actions and attitude you value and look for in your workforce. Notice their contributions, good or bad and handle the latter with caution.

3. Stay Away From Negative Criticism

Discuss negatives in private, with a delicate approach. Starting off on a positive note sets a constructive tone. Don’t solely point the finger at your remote employee. Point towards where the problem occurred. 

Offer feedback in the right way. This will help remote workers not take the matter personally and strive to improve. This way you can avoid one of the strongest motivation killers.

To make the overall feedback environment less overwhelming for the employees, as a leader, it is best to ask feedback for your work too. This makes it easy for the team to feel more at ease as now it is seen as teamwork for improvement and not seen as a one way road to finding flaws.

4. Lack Of Growth Opportunities

This is monotony’s evil brother. Most remote employees want to grow. The ones who don’t are probably not very good. Nothing kills motivation more than perceiving a job as a dead end. Showing you can provide them with something more than paychecks turns you into something more than an employer.

This way you can form an emotional connection as well. The feeling that both parties are working towards something together induces motivation. Growth opportunities that can increase remote employees’ market value are great job perks. It might end up costing you some quality talent, but it will help develop much more in the long run.

5. Closed Culture

Remote employees tend to look for a certain level of flexibility. You as the boss are the one who is going to determine its level. Shutting it down completely, though, isn’t the right strategy.

Suppressing remote employees is equal to blocking motivation. Remote employees need to adjust to your company culture and operational model. This doesn’t mean there can’t be some leeway for individuality. Allowing individuality will make them feel more valuable, rather than just another brick in the wall.

It’s best to let people be who they are as this broadens everyone’s perspective and leads to a lot of positives. You can expect a diverse range of creative ideas, more solutions to one problem and a lot more fun! There’s no fun or advantage in making everyone follow one personality type at work.

6. Decentralization Of Information

When it comes to customer services, remote employment can be very delicate. Some workers might have a lot of insight into a particular type of customer. Since they work remotely though, an isolation of information might occur. This can put your whole operational model off balance.

New employees might not know how to handle accounts. You need to make sure all customer-relevant information is centralized and shared. You can create chats and discussion boards, schedule regular conference calls. Customer demands need to be highlighted and coordinated among all remote employees.

Consistency is crucial to any operational model and especially customer service. This is even truer with sales. Lacking the chance to handle accounts causes loss of motivation.

7. Not Knowing Who To Turn To

Remote employment often leads to feelings of isolation. Skype, conference calls, and video chats can ease loneliness to quite an extent. More importantly, though, you need to make clear who they can turn to for different issues.

Explain from the get-go which manager can help them resolve which type of situations. Keep a check on them from time to time if they are struggling with something. Some managers even provide technical assistance and financing for technical issues with equipment. This is just like an office that needs to ensure proper tools are provided to its workers. When remote employees feel they miss out on perks of a regular job, their motivation starts to drop. Employee benefits directly influence their motivation.

8. Keep a Note of Their Holidays

Try to be as accommodating to holidays as possible. You can keep in mind the physical spaces your remote employees inhabit. Encourage them to let you know in advance of any upcoming holidays in their place of residence. Giving them such days off whenever possible will increase their overall morale. Not only, but it will also be a grand gesture, and ultimately – a motivation booster.

Motivating remote employees isn’t an exact science. Avoiding motivation killers can be much more straightforward. With some practice, it can turn into sparking motivation as well.

A Specialized Remote Recruitment Agency Can Help

At DistantJob, managing remote employees and their motivation is our specialty. We not only hire and onboard the best tech talent for you but also help with remote work management solutions that bridge the gap between you and your team. Get in touch!

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Petar Petrov

Petar Petrov

Petar Petrov is a freelance writer who works with DistantJob to research and synthesise the best remote work related content into practical, accurate and actionable guides and articles on how to improve remote leadership and better manage your teams.