The spread of COVID-19 has forced a lot of businesses to adapt on the turn of a dime. Practically overnight, companies of all sizes have had to ask employees to work remotely. While a quarter of the workforce in the United States already works from home at least part-time, the shift has caused both managers and employees alike to evolve their work flow and rethink the way they do business.
Advanced preparation was not the norm for a pandemic of this magnitude. Establishing protocol on the fly is never easy, but when our health and safety demands remote work, concessions must be allowed. The good news? Managers hoping to learn how to motivate remote employees have a wealth of resources at their fingertips. Here are just a few strategies to try with your team:
Create a New Routine
Perhaps your office once started each day with a morning meeting. Maybe your team is used to communicating across an open floor plan office. Whatever your norm, it’s important to re-establish routine with everyone working from home. Daily team meetings on video conferencing software can ensure your team is looped in on the big picture. A weekly call with each employee can help keep you on the same page as each worker and ensure nobody is slipping through the cracks. Regardless of how you decide to create a new routine, be sure to implement it with fidelity. Setting a regular, predictable time and method of communication can help ease the transition for your team.
Use Multiple Forms of Communication
Almost everyone has a preferred method of communication. Whether you enjoy a phone conversation, look forward to video chats, or like to craft a perfectly worded email, those preferences matter – especially when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible. Managers should work with each employee to understand their preferences and meet them halfway. If you prefer phone calls and your direct report is more of an email type, consider dialing back your phone conversations and putting your thoughts into the written word instead. Not only will this result in greater productivity, but your employees will be grateful for your willingness to respect their preferences, too.
Acknowledge the Weird
We’re living in strange times. Nothing is certain and the future is as unclear as it has ever been. Rather than pretend everything is business as usual, acknowledge the strangeness of working through a global pandemic. People are stressed and anxious, and pretending otherwise only hurts morale and suppresses healthy emotions. By chatting with your employees about your own concerns, you can initiate a frank and honest conversation about mental health and wellbeing.
Think these kinds of conversations aren’t appropriate for the workplace? Think again. While you might not necessarily need a full group therapy session with your team, your employees will be eager for your leadership, now more than ever. Get honest about the realities facing your company and the world at large and you’ll see greater buy-in from your team. Employees look to their managers for cues about how to respond to news, so model the healthy processing of emotions and you’ll see it pay off in spades.
Try Remote Team Building Exercises
If you’re curious about how to motivate remote employees, chances are good you’re familiar with many of the most common team building exercises. While you can’t exactly perform trust falls at the moment, you can schedule remote team building opportunities for your employees. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – a virtual employee happy hour can do wonders for morale during dark times. Everyone is eager for social interactions these days, so an hour where you swap television show recommendations and share favorite craft beer brands with one another can do wonders.
Create Clear Work/Life Boundaries
We hear a lot about work/life balance, but the line between the two has never been so blurred. Employees working from home may roll out of bed to login for their remote shifts, and long meetings may run into dinner hour. While remote work can make for better efficiency, it too often means that work and home life bleeds together. To give your team the respect and space they deserve, establish clear boundaries and expectations. Requiring employees to login at a certain time is a good start, but asking them to respond to emails late into the night is unfair. Consider your goals and then work backwards to create policies that respect employee free time.
Many employees may be caught between parenting and educating their children while also working remotely. In such uncertain times, it’s helpful to minimize interruptions at every opportunity. While childcare and homeschooling requirements might be non-negotiable, frequent phone calls can be addressed responsibly. There’s never been a better time to call in reinforcements via a live phone answering service. Give your employees the freedom to focus on the most important items on their to-do lists without the interruption of a constantly ringing phone.
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