5 Ways in Motivating Virtual Teams

Cody McLain


There is a lot written about why a business should outsource certain tasks, but not as much about how to manage and motivate your virtual team. A disengaged, poorly motivated,...

There is a lot written about why a business should outsource certain tasks, but not as much about how to manage and motivate your virtual team.

A disengaged, poorly motivated, and unreachable virtual team can be just as dangerous (if not more than) as a team with the same or similar characteristics in an actual office.

That is why it’s important to know effective strategies on how to motivate your virtual team, so you don’t end up with missed deadlines, poor quality of work, and bad employee reviews.

The following five steps will help you to keep your virtual workers engaged no matter how far away they are, what time of the day it is, or where they work.

Utilize communication tools

There are plenty of communication tools on the internet at your disposal, all of which can be used to benefit your relationship with your virtual team.

What’s important is that you have an efficient and specific function for each tool you use. Slack may not be the greatest for a large meeting, but it is a great, quick, and relaxed way to ask someone how a task is going. At the same time, if you need to video chat with someone to quickly check in on a project, then your virtual employee might think that you are being overly controlling and wasting their time.

You can also try utilizing communication platforms that have several different functions. For example, with Gmail you can email, instant message, and video chat. This makes it very convenient to communicate with your virtual team in a variety of ways.

There is new technology being created every day, so also make sure that you are up-to-date on new communication tools and updates for the tools you already use to see if any of them can benefit your team.

Make an effort to get to know your virtual team

Just because you aren’t seeing someone at the water cooler everyday, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get to know them.

Whenever you bring on a new virtual team member, or if it has been a while since you’ve had a non-work related conversations with one of your current members, you should schedule a time to video chat or instant message them and talk about how they are doing.

Ask them about their life. Tell them appropriate details about your own. It’s important that you are able to recognize them as an actual person who you work with, and not as a robot. That way they can do the same.

Be respectful, courteous, and have reasonable expectations

Virtual workers are notorious for working at odd times, late hours, and on weekends. It can be tempting to look at this and assume that they are willing to work non-stop. However, that is simply not the case.

It is important to remember that your virtual workers have a life away from their laptops. Just because you might not ever see or hear about their family, doesn’t mean they don’t have one. They also likely have a social agenda and other priorities that they must tend to.

So if you need to give someone extra work ask them if they are available to do it, try to give them as much notice as possible, so that they can fit it into their schedule, and be prepared to compensate them for this.

The worst thing that you can do is burnout your workers. Unlike in an actual office, you probably won’t see that they are close to the edge until it is too late.

And remember, everyone likes being complimented after a job well done.

Present clear guidelines at the beginning of each project

If you use vague or confusing guidelines for a project, it will be difficult for your virtual team to deliver the product that you are expecting.

Instead, take sometime before you assign each project to think about how you want the product to look, and then craft specific and clear guidelines that will ensure that your team is be able give you your desired results.

Remember to also be available to your virtual team in case they have any questions or need clarification on any of your guidelines. The last thing you want them to do is feel that they need to guess how to complete any aspects of a project.

Pay well

There are hundreds, if not thousands of websites where you can get work done for cheap. As tempting as this is, it’s important to remember that you are getting what you pay for.

It is nearly impossible to find quality web content, with SEO capable of ranking your website high in Google’s search engine, when you pay a few dollars per webpage. Even though content can easily be found for that price, you should not purchase it.

Find out what the competitive rates are for virtual employees who can produce the quality of work you desire, and pay your employees a comparable rate.

If you don’t, you can expect a low quality product or that good virtual team members will leave your company for greener pastures.

If you are looking to find quality virtual team members, SupportNinja is a good place to start. We offer excellent customer service and back-office support to mid-sized businesses. Contact us to see how Ninja can work for you.