How leaders can keep their teams focused and motivated now we have to work remotely longer


The first dust of social distancing has gone done and most people got used to working

remotely. It now appears this period will even take a while. This creates new challenges for you as a leader. How do you keep your people involved and motivated? How do you keep all noses in the same direction when everyone is in a different place? How do you know everyone is doing the right things?

I’ll give you 5 tips to keep your teams focused and motivated.

Have faith

For many leaders, management by walking around feels like the only way to lead. Remote leadership can make you unsure about your own leadership qualities. Managing people without seeing them physically starts with trust. Have confidence in your team, where you give more control to them. Remember that in the office you also don't always know what someone is doing. Physical presence does not guarantee productivity.

Provide perspective

For employees for whom everything changed, putting the dot on the horizon is more important than ever before. It will give them something to hold on to. It will provide for the necessary guidance and direction in these uncertain times. You cannot communicate clearly enough about this. When remote people easily get their own interpretations or stick to what they were used to do. Make sure everyone knows what has the highest priority in this period (and be also clear on what activities to stop).

Create psychological safety

As a leader you should support your people by discussing what they are facing. By really listening to them and not downplaying it. Everybody experiences this situation differently and goes through different phases. Not everybody is as resilient. Keep the threshold for questions low by creating a safe environment. It is important that they feel the space for their concerns and questions. Otherwise you will never know what is really going on.

Have people work on projects where they can make progress

Research shows that people are most motivated when they can make progress on meaningful work. So, focus on what they still can do. Give them (meaningful) projects on which they can see their progress.

Plan for social contact

Social contact is not automatic these days. So, initiate this consciously. More often choose video calling instead of just calling or texting. Seeing each other contributes to more engagement. As a manager show that your people matter to you by initiating a new team ritual. How about a weekly Call & Coffee with your team on non-work related topics or continue your Friday drink virtually?

A final note: The experiences we are all gaining now, could well make remote working much more common even after the crisis. So, the better you provide the above as a leader, the easier people can follow you and the more involved they are.


Change is inevitable. Growth is optional

Some food for thought:

What does this 'new normal' mean for your leadership style?

What is working well? Where could you improve?



Note: This blog has been written in english for the newsletter of the NBCC (the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce)


Interested in more tips for leading remote teams?

Download my free e-book HERE


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