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5 ways to maintain employee motivation when WFH
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work. Remote work has become the new norm for many traditionally in-office roles, and this shift is likely to impact work models long after the lockdown is over.
In these unprecedented times, the onus is on management teams to implement new ways of maintaining employee motivation and team morale without the benefit of a centralised workspace.
We look at 5 ways managers can boost individual and team engagement while staff are working from home or telecommuting.
1. Set clear expectations from the outset
Many employees have had to quickly change their working arrangements, which can lead to confusion about what’s expected of them on a day-to-day basis. As a manager, it’s important to communicate your expectations with your team as early as possible, including:
- Their responsibilities – these may stay the same, or they may need to change given the new remote work environment
- When they should be online and available – work hours may be fixed or flexible
- How and when they should check in with you
- New policies and guidelines about work conduct, including how to work securely online
Periodically check in with your team to ensure these expectations are being met, and remember that it may take time to find the right workflow for some employees.
2. Be deliberate about communication
Communication can be a challenge for remote teams. A recent study found that many employees struggle with communication issues and even loneliness when working remotely. To mitigate the risk of disconnected teams and disengaged employees, managers must set the standard for regular, ongoing communication.
Organise regular meetings and catch-ups – both one-on-one with employees and as a team – via apps like Google Hangouts, Zoom and Skype. It’s also a good idea to keep lines of communication open with collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
3. Embrace flexible ways of working
Many people are trying to navigate unexpected changes to their lives, which often involves juggling childcare and personal commitments with work. Managers should be empathetic and flexible in supporting employees during these times of uncertainty.
Where possible, allow for flexible work arrangements such as flexible working hours, and acknowledge that different people may require certain accommodations due to family situations and living arrangements. This will demonstrate clear support for employees and help stave off resentment during difficult periods.
4. Introduce remote employee engagement activities
Boosting team morale is just as important, if not more important, when working remotely as it is in the office. Think about ways you can keep up team camaraderie and combat negative mindsets by injecting fun into your new work environment.
Recognise great work with virtual high-fives through group chats, organise contests or birthday “parties” through video conferencing calls, or set up virtual Friday afternoon snacks and drinks. These are all small but meaningful activities that will help lift employee engagement and combat the pitfalls of physical separation. Remember not to overdo it though, as Zoom fatigue does exist.
5. Listen to your team’s feedback
Adopting new ways of working is a learning curve for both managers and workers. With that in mind, encourage your team members to share their challenges and successes while working remotely. Listen to the needs of employees, and incorporate changes to policies and arrangements where possible to help continually improve the work environment for your team.
While it may not be possible to prevent the fear and uncertainty of the current landscape, you can implement processes to support your employees while they navigate unfamiliar territory.
As in any office environment, keeping employee motivation levels up in a remote work situation is key to keeping staff happy, retaining your best people and maintaining team cohesion.