6 Proven Ways Remote Workers Can Stay Motivated
by Jarno Koopman on May 22, 2023
What are proven ways remote workers can stay motivated?
At the outset of the pandemic in 2020, countless professionals had to shift to remote work. Now that we are three years removed from that transition, clearly remote teams are here to stay. Project management tools, collaboration software, and other tech have made that possible. (Where would we be without Slack?)
In the beginning, people were excited about remote work. Consultants could travel more, spend more time with their families, all the good things.
However, we now know that working remotely is not all sunshine and rainbows.
Motivation– or lack, thereof– has always been an issue for work-from-home professionals. Today more people are working from home than ever, and motivation remains a key factor in both productivity and the well-being of individuals on the team.
While remote work doesn’t necessarily make people more or less productive– as this Swedish study points out– the presence or absence of motivation does. To help managers and remote team members alike keep motivation high, here are 6 practical tips that can help.
1. Routine. Routine. Routine.
Humans are creatures of habit, but not all habits can keep you motivated at work. Setting a routine and keeping it is the evidence-backed method to build good habits. If you establish a daily routine, either for yourself or for your team, you can better stay on track with tasks and stay motivated. Beyond work life, healthy routines can help you better manage stress, sleep better, and stay healthy in body and mind. Start by creating a simple schedule for each day that allots time for work, breaks, exercise, and connecting with others. While it’s important to have your work tasks dialed-in to the routine, don’t forget the life tasks too. This can help you get closer to that work-life balance that can keep you motivated in the long term.
2. Take breaks/Time block
Regardless of your industry, taking breaks is exceedingly important to avoid burnout. If you struggle to actually take your breaks, consider time blocking, or setting a timer that will force you to to take a break. One popular time-blocking strategy we’ve mentioned before in our productivity blogs is the Pomodoro technique. It involves working in 20-minute blocks with breaks in-between, and it’s highly effective when you’re struggling to stay motivated. Four hours of work seems daunting, but 20 minutes? That’s doable. You can thus trick your brain and keep your motivation strong until you’ve completed your tasks. Whatever intervals you choose, be sure to take those breaks to help your productivity stay on point.
3. Get connected (with people)
Interestingly, this study found that work motivation is primarily rooted in two things: autonomy and social relatedness. While remote work provides the former, it can be detrimental to the latter. That’s because remote work can be extremely socially isolating, especially for single people and those who live alone. Humans are meant to connect emotionally with one another, and we have always needed to in order to survive. Beyond the joy you can experience connecting with a loved one, social connection is paramount to maintaining your mental and physical health. Sleeping better, stressing less, and avoiding anxiety and depression are all tangible health benefits of staying connected with people. Be sure to put social connection into your weekly routine. If you’re not naturally a super-social person, schedule regular check-ins with those you care about. You can also attend virtual team-building activities offered by your company and join online communities to connect with people that share your interests.
4. Celebrate your accomplishments
Of all the motivation tips on our list, this one is probably the most ignored. A lot of people feel weird giving themselves a pat on the back, but rewarding yourself or celebrating your accomplishments is actually a key determinant in future success. Doing so can help train your brain to repeat positive actions and habits. Therefore, remote workers should not overlook this step. Recognize and celebrate your accomplishments in work and in life, no matter how small. This can help you feel valued and maintain your motivation over time. You don’t have to celebrate in a big way. The point is to recognize and associate your progress with something positive and rewarding.
5. Make organization a priority
Remote workers, creatives in particular, can notoriously get off track in the organization department. Disorganization can make you less likely to keep deadlines and more likely to overlook important details. If you fall off the wagon, always be sure to jump back on quickly by going into organization mode. Organization is physical, so simply by keeping your workspace organized you can help your brain get focused on the task at hand. Beyond your physical workspace is your digital workspace, which should also stay organized to help keep you motivated. Use smart tools like calendars and to-do lists with automated alerts. You can also leverage all-in-one software that provides built-in organization for all your tasks, communications, etc., so that you can keep all of your work in one digital space.
6. Set boundaries. Stick to them.
Regardless of whether or not you work remotely, setting boundaries between your personal and professional lives can help improve your overall health and the health of your relationships. However, remote work presents a bigger challenge, as it often blurs the line between what’s work and what’s personal. You could probably argue that setting boundaries is even more important for remote work, especially if you want to remain motivated. To set boundaries for your remote work life, first it’s imperative to have a dedicated work space. Also try working in different places, i.e. the coffee shop, outside, etc., to get some distance from your home life and set that boundary. Also, setting specific work hours can help you draw the line between work and life. When you’re off the clock, you can be more present with yourself and your family. When you’re on, you’re more apt to stay motivated and productive day to day.
Stay motivated: Stay happy and productive.
In our experience and our research into motivation for remote workers, one thing has become clear: staying motivated makes people happier and more productive. Luckily, you don’t need supernatural willpower or special skills to make that happen. By simply setting a routine and sticking with it, for example, you can boost your motivation. And don’t forget the importance of staying connected with others. These, along with our other tips, are tried-and-true ways remote workers can stay motivated and ultimately, happy and productive in the work-from-home world.