Category: Remote Work
Keeping Your Team Competitive in a Virtual Office Environment
[Originally published 12/7/2016; this article has been updated 4/8/2020]
Strong collaboration among colleagues is a hallmark of highly effective teams, but that doesn’t mean that competition should be prohibited. When used correctly, friendly contests can improve employee engagement and increase team members’ overall productivity. Team-based competition is more difficult in a virtual team environment, but technology today offers new methods for keeping remote workers connected.
Creating Competition that Boosts Motivation
Sales professionals tend to be competitive by nature, and most enjoy an opportunity to see how they compare to peers. They crave constant updates on their own achievement against sales goals, and competition with co-workers happens without management intervention. In these situations, digital leaderboards and on-screen updates make it possible to keep motivation levels high.
Leaders have a chance to direct friendly competition into specific goals when necessary — for example, to encourage the sale of a particular product that is otherwise lagging. In these situations, managers can quickly improve product sales and create long-term habits by focusing team members’ attention on the desired outcome.
Unfortunately, friendly competition can quickly turn sour without careful attention to common pitfalls. First, contests must be fresh to create true engagement. If you choose to offer a special reward, such as time off or additional pay, create a contest with a beginning and an end, rather than an on-going weekly competition.
Second, focus on creating an environment that offers intrinsic rewards for doing well. Support team members as they gain self-confidence by beating their own performance records, rather than exclusively highlighting performance differences between colleagues. This is an opportunity to encourage co-workers to create deeper relationships by applauding each other when a particular goal is accomplished.
Create legitimate competition with appropriate recognition for those that go above and beyond. Team members will rapidly lose interest if every minor accomplishment is met with excessive applause, and a “trophies for everyone” mentality tends to reduce motivation to excel. For the best results, build practical quotas and targets to hit.
Pitfalls in Competitive Environments
Friendly competition occurs when all team members have a legitimate chance of winning. When co-workers have varying levels of skill, competitions tend to discourage low performers. After all, no one enjoys a highly visible appearance on the bottom of the leaderboard day after day.
In these situations, there are several options. New colleagues still learning the ropes could compete with each other, be exempt from contests or have reduced goals to keep the contest fun. Managers should consider grouping individuals by skill level to compete against each other, or create combined teams of veterans and newbies to balance out the scales.
Make sure that as a manager, you are communicating regularly with all participants of the contest, and gauging their thoughts and feelings. Don’t be afraid to add in personal goals for competitors to keep them going.
New Tools for the Digital Age
Virtual engagement tools make it possible to stay connected across the country or around the world. Hoopla can easily be accessed and watched on mobile devices or PCs, with handy functions to skip or pause, so that you can focus on the important stuff. For any staff members still on site, Hoopla on TVs can broadcast important messages or key information instantly around the company.
Hoopla even syncs with Slack to keep the information flow going, whether in Slack or Hoopla. Using digital programming, management staff can share motivational quotes and video clips with the entire team, along with business updates and department-related news. Staff can watch their progress in real time, making it possible to participate in team-based contests and competitions.
Leveraging these new tools sales teams can continue to communicate by relaying important info in real time anywhere. Virtual teams don’t mean the end of friendly competition between co-workers. Real-time updates from advanced digital tools keep remote workers engaged with each other and with their work, increasing overall productivity. Don’t fear the new remote paradigm, embrace new ways to connect and compete.
How To Smoothly Transition To Remote Work During The COVID-19 Crisis
We can all say it: It’s a little weird out there right now.
It’s hard not to feel a sense of whiplash as the country—and world—has changed so rapidly in the course of just a few weeks.
But beyond social distancing, Axios’ Erica Pandey presents the reality for companies everywhere: “Remote work and remote learning have long been buzzwords, but the sudden switch to telecommuting en masse has the potential to accelerate shifts in how work is conducted and the way we think about it.”
In other words, when we look back on this time, it may be one of the hallmarks of the work-from-home revolution.
But as Pandey also points out, only about 4% of Americans worked from home full-time before this. So it’s going to be a major change for almost all of us.
And we’re here to help.
Whether remote work was something you and your employees already had some experience with before, it’s certainly something you’re adjusting to now. And whether you’re a remote work veteran, or you’re feeling totally out of your element, we want you to know that we’re here to support you in any way we can.
With that in mind, we want to speak to some of our greener work-from-homers. So regardless of if you’re a manager who’s feels like remote work isn’t feasible for your business, or an employee who’s worried about staying connected to your job and your team, we want to give you the tools you need to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Here are our best tips for transitioning yourself and your employees into remote work as smoothly as possible.
Communicate as Openly and as Often as Possible
Times like this often open themselves up to a lot of misinformation. Whether it’s a text from your friend who somehow has “high-level” insider information about what the government is up to, or your many careless Facebook friends sharing whatever anxiety-inducing thoughts come to mind, people are looking for and consuming whatever information they can get their hands on.
So now is the time for you, the employer, to step up your communication effort.
Sara Fischer, reporting on a survey by Edelmen, explains that “people are more likely to believe that their employers are seen as better prepared than their countries to handle the outbreak, per the survey.”
And with that in mind, she goes on to say, 63% of employees want daily updates from their companies.
What this tells us is that your employees need to hear from you. They don’t need to know all the answers, but they are certainly looking for guidance. So whether you do it through group video calls, daily one-on-one check ins, or broadcasting messages through a dedicated channel, the time and effort that you spend to make sure your employees can reach you in absolutely invaluable.
Set Goals, Big and Small
When employees have to quickly go from the structure of an office and group-work to the freedom and lack-of-accountability that can come from working out of the house, it can be hard to stay motivated.
Something that we constantly come back to here at Hoopla is the importance of setting goals: big and small, work and personal.
Encourage your employees to start every day with a to-do list of sorts. Tasks that they can accomplish before they punch out, or things that they know they need to do before the end of the week. That helps them to create structure around which they can build their days.
And it also brings some grounding to a time where a lot of daily life feels unsure. Do they want to keep working out? Maybe the can make a goal of hitting three online yoga classes. Do they want to learn a few new recipes to cook at home? We could probably all use a shakeup in our mealtimes.
Stick To Metrics, Not Timecards
Part of the beauty of the remote work setup is that, traditionally, folks to can work remotely don’t necessarily need to work on the same schedule as their coworkers. It presents flexibility for parents who may now be homeschooling their kids, or students who are trying to juggle a job on top of classes.
With that in mind, it’s not always the most useful thing in the world to try and track the hours that your remote employees are working. Instead, make sure that their role has a certain set of metrics or KPIs that define success.
By holding workers to those metrics, you’re actually empowering them to do work on their time, and helping them to be their most efficient.
Remember: We’re All In This Together
Remote work can often be an extremely isolating experience if not handled correctly. Especially in these trying times, we can get so consumed with taking care of ourselves—we may end up forgetting that our coworkers and friends are experiencing much of the same problems that we are.
Make sure that you’re making space for your employees to be non-employees, too. Start a slack channel that’s just dedicated to everyone’s movie recommendations—or hop on Netflix’s new Party feature and watch a movie “together.”
You might find that blowing off the occasional Friday afternoon for some quality team social-distancing might be worth more in the long run than allowing your employees to become isolated and disengaged from your organization.
In the end, a lot of this is going to feel improv-ed. Don’t worry, that’s normal.
As long as you continue to try to do right by your employees, develop concrete plans for the best way to move forward, and communicate your vision, you’re going to find a team that’s ready to rally behind you.
And in the end, you may find that the option to work from home was the best choice all along.