2020 is deemed “the year of remote work”. More companies than ever are making true strides in shifting to a more flexible, sustainable remote work model, making working from home the number one business trend, growing in popularity. Yet no one could have ever predicted the world’s largest work-from-home experiment before the end of this year’s first quarter.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, remote work has moved from being a privilege to a necessity and employers are looking for ways to keep their remote working staff motivated long term.
A motivated workforce makes a happy workplace and a happy workplace forms a successful business. When employees are in the office, companies achieve motivation in a holistic way by getting everyone involved, sometimes including incentive schemes. But when your staff are working remotely, it can be tricky to ensure morale remains high and everyone stays motivated long-term. Yet it’s crucial that companies continue to address the needs of their employees, including those who work from home.
The benefits of remote working for employees and employers are well-known. Better work-life balance, less time spent in traffic, more flexibility, less pollution, less money spent on office and commuting and many others. However, with all its benefits, there are some downsides to remote work as well. Since all the employees work from their homes or some other location, keeping up employee motivation and engagement can be quite difficult. So, how do you continue to drive engagement and motivation throughout your remote working staff during this time of crisis?
Luckily, there are companies out there, such as Amazon and VIPKID that have been at it for years, mastering employee motivation in remote working. So, if you’re wondering how you can do that on your own, we’ve compiled a list of great ideas for you to try out.
Communication is key in remote working
One of the most effective strategies for managing remote working staff to boost motivation is communication. Open, honest, transparent and whenever possible, real-time communication. It’s important to remember that they’re a valued member of the team. Not being in the office does not mean someone simply sits around and watches TV all day. And If you trusted them enough to hire them, trust them to get on with the job. In fact, most remote workers are more productive and can get more done compared to staff in the office since there are limited distractions. Of course, when communicating you should also be mindful of constantly interrupting your staff as this could equally negatively impact their productivity level.
Communication is key for your remote working staff to stay engaged and be aware of what is going on (big picture, short-term, long-term, this week, today) and what’s changing. When a team member is cut off from internal communications it can seriously impact how they feel, their commitment, their loyalty and how connected they are to your company. Out of sight and off-site does not mean out of mind, therefore, remote employees should be looked after.
It’s never been easier to build a virtual community and remain connected. Fortunately, there are several high-quality solutions for online collaboration and teamwork, which are free or relatively inexpensive. Put an emphasis on the basics, such as email, video conferencing tools, a direct messaging platform, and a way to share and download files. Make sure that specialised roles like project managers and marketers have access to the software they need to be successful. Furthermore, online collaboration can also help boost staff motivation and engagement. In that case, Google Docs, Slides and Spreadsheets can be of great help.
Provide feedback to remote working staff
Keeping remote workers engaged and motivated means maintaining consistent and constant communication wherever they are. Hence, managing staff should ensure this communication isn’t only when there is a problem. Praise and feedback are essential drivers of productivity and performance. Moreover, positive reinforcement is a great way to keep your staff motivated to continue doing exceptional work. If good work goes unnoticed, staff may feel underappreciated. Social media can be ideal to promote and celebrate individual achievements, fostering a sense of loyalty and reward.
Don’t expect the impossible from your remote workforce. Ensure your team’s goals are realistic to spare them extra frustration and burnout. This will give the work-from-home employee a clear focus of what you expect. Have goals mutually agreed to by the concerned parties and track that your expectations are being met on time by checking in regularly.
Measure performance without micromanaging
Performance and outputs should be measured and measurable in every role. Remote workers may often worry about what senior managers think of them. They might worry that they seem not to be productive, whereas often, the opposite is true. To keep remote workers engaged and motivated, you should set clear structures and offer clear guidance for tasks and goals to aim for.
One of the best ways to motivate your team is by giving them the opportunity to learn and up-skill. By offering them the chance to develop new skills, you enable personal and professional growth. In turn, this will benefit your company since staff will have better skills to deliver exceptional work. Udemy, Lynda and LinkedIn offer plenty of useful up-skilling courses.
While you don’t want to seem invasive or breach respectful boundaries, it takes a little more effort to help your remote workforce feel motivated and valued. After all, they won’t run into each other in the bathroom or whilst grabbing a cup of coffee. As a manager, you’ll need to create those opportunities for interaction online. Consider celebrating milestones or making announcements about achievements part of your daily managerial approach.
Finally, think well-being. It is crucial that we all sustain our physical and mental health. Make it a priority to regularly check in with colleagues on needs for support and assist where possible. Continue to recognise and highlight your employees’ exceptional efforts. Encourage your staff to maintain (or even enhance) normal levels of physical activity and remind them to keep in contact with family, friends or other support systems.
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