Working From Home? Keep Your Team Motivated.
5 Practical Tips For Team Leaders
COVID-19 has ruined the transparent and universally recognized system that has been working out perfectly for so many years. The typical 8-hour working day is no longer an option for all the office workers around the globe. Teams and their leaders had to go to the new routine overnight. Millions of the employees have lost their jobs; even more, they are left in the comfort of their homes unsupervised.
The U-word scares a lot of team leaders and makes them implement bizarre restrictions they would have never imposed on office people. For instance, the Wall Street Journal tells its employees to let their managers know when they are having a break, interviewing someone or having a meeting. It’s indeed hard sometimes to organize a remote team, but you might want to avoid restrictions that scream: “I don’t trust you!” which are not really motivating.
We have piled up tips that would help any leader keep their team motivated without having to micro-manage.
Study The Facts
Although almost every boss wants to keep his/her team in sight, it’s been proved by numerous studies that remote workers are more productive than office dwellers. Surprised?
A Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom conducted research including 16,000 workers of Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency. Every six months, he divided 500 employees into two teams: 250 employees worked in the office, 250 worked from home. The two-year study revealed that remote workers improved their performance by 13%. That’s almost one additional day a week, says Nicholas Bloom in his 2017 TEDx talk. (Highly recommended to anyone managing remote teams!)
According to Bloom, there are two main reasons for that. Firstly, remote employees work their full shifts. They don’t have to commute, so they never arrive late or leave earlier. Secondly, the offices are far more distracting than we think, and a lot of employees report they can concentrate better at home.
Help Your Team Cope With Stress
Although the studies have shown that remote workers are not that bad, it’s important to remember that your employees didn’t choose to work from home voluntarily during the pandemic of 2020. They were required and some were even forced to do this by the scary circumstances they can’t control. News about people dying, worrying about their children or older relatives, almost no face-to-face interaction can lead to anxiety.
“The change to almost complete remote work around the world has initiated unforeseen mental health challenges associated with work for many employees, which employers have a significant role in alleviating,” says Silja Voolma, Ph.D., applied behavioral scientist and CEO of Behavioral Design Global.
However, you can help your team make its work in these conditions less stressful. Dr. Voolma recommends setting impactful goals that make a difference. Do not load your team with meaningless jobs; explain to its members why their contribution is valuable, and identify the tasks that need to be completed.
A US clinical psychologist Frederick Herzberg believed that most of the employees are motivated mainly by intrinsic rewards, like interesting and challenging tasks or opportunities to achieve and grow into greater responsibility. Learn what are your employees’ internal generators and activate them.
Organize The Workspace Remotely
Having a normal, distraction-free working environment at home is as important for the team as keeping its spirits up. The majority of your employees do not have proper home offices. Give your colleagues a hand organizing their workspace.
Colliers International, a company in real estate services and investment management, recommends creating a plan to support and supply employees in need. Consider furniture, seating, lighting, noise levels and internet bandwidth.
Ship over anything your team may need to be more productive. For instance, Ukrainian software company MacPaw brought office chairs to its employees’ homes; and American dating startup Hily provided its developers with double monitors.
Establish A Clear Schedule
A new survey by the Airtasker, an online platform that connects consumers with gig workers, suggests that a third of remote workers struggle to find a proper work-life balance. The absence of clear working day boundaries makes the whole day routine go down the drain and messes with a person’s basic needs. For instance, lack of sleep can lead to drastic things: it costs the US economy $411 billion a year and over 1 million lost workdays.
That’s why you may want to establish clear working hours and start your day with a regular morning meeting where everyone on the team will share their plans for the day. Nicole Bendaly, the President of K&Co, a company that improves team and leadership performance, says such morning check-ins will help to focus on key priorities and maintain a sense of community.
In times when healthy face-to-face communication is out of reach, talk to your team more. Build connections between different departments; let them know what the whole company is up to. Praise employees for reaching goals in team chats to lift their spirits. Take one-on-one meetings with your employees more seriously than ever, ask questions about what affects their productivity and mental health, and react.
A famous American management consultant and educator Peter F. Drucker believed that the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. 85% of what people take away from the conversation is based on body language and facial expressions. With that being said, consider conducting all of the meetings via video chats. It will help to capture moods and emotions that aren’t available in writing or even in simple phone talks.
Tiina Saar-Veelmaa, psychologist and founder of happyme.ee, thinks that the survivors will be businesses whose cultures are built on honesty, inclusion, transparency and flexibility. Build trust and unity, and remember that we are all in this together.