For several years, businesses of all sizes have been planning for a gradual shift to more remote work and working to address the potential problems that could arise: managing employees, tracking time, team communication, and more.
But while strategies have been in the works predicting these changes, nobody predicted it would happen as quickly as it did – all thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced a lot of companies outside of the comfort zone.
Even as the vaccine spreads and companies take baby-steps toward the moving target of “normalcy,” the workplace dynamic will be forever changed by what companies learned from the pandemic: remote working is not only viable, but it might be even be better in some cases – especially in cutting down overhead expenses and allowing flexibility.
Unfortunately, there are drawbacks too – just as predicted – and one of the most notable is keeping employees motivated while working at home.
Motivational Factors That Influence Work Performance
Remote work inevitably presents distractions unlike anything in the office work environment. To keep employees locked-in and productive while they’re working from afar, they need to be motivated.
In order to keep them on track and excited to help your team, employees need to be in a positive environment that stifles pressure and stress, which have been heightened during the pandemic.
Three of the major causes of employee stress during the remote work era are:
- Economic Pressure: lost or reduced wages has countless people struggling to make rent or house payments.
- Emotional Pressure: people are struggling mentally as they worry about the loss of employment and health among other huge life concerns.
- Inertia: under the weight of growing life problems and mounting bad news, workers can surrender to inactivity as they wonder if there is even a point in trying.
To combat these challenges for the remote employee, managers are embracing motivational techniques such as follows:
- Play: play typically involves interacting with other people. While you can still enjoy activities such as brainstorming with a colleague via videoconference, remote workers may miss the ease of camaraderie that occurs when people are in the same room. To combat this, managers are finding create ways to encourage socializing and collaborating from distant locations.
- Purpose: less visibility and connectedness can take away from an employee’s since of purpose. They might not be in-house, but they still need to be engaged and acknowledged just as frequently.
- Potential: when administrators and supervisors cannot easily access employees to instruct and develop them, they might feel like their potential with the company is limited. Be sure to work closely with them, reward and compliment their success and hard work, and insure them their ceiling with the company is as high as they can take it.
The Dos and Don’ts of Remote Working Oversight
With a better understanding of both the helpful and harmful influences of remote work, here are a few general dos and don’ts to help managers keep the enthusiasm and productivity of their team high:
The Dos of Remote Working Oversight
- DO Manage Technology Carefully: choose your virtual office technology well to ensure that it meets your specific wants and needs. Make these choices clear to your employees and that they receive clear and thorough tech training.
- DO Place a High Value on Communication: make it clear to your employees that “out of sight” certainly doesn’t mean “out of mind.” Set clear communication expectations and check in with employees on a regular basis.
- DO Empower Employees: After establishing the necessary procedures, deadlines, margins, and expectations, wise remote managers will delegate responsibly and give workers the space that they need to get the job done.
The Don’ts of Remote Working Oversight
- DON’T Overburden Employees: your workers may now be living around the clock in their office space, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they should be available for work 24/7. Don’t over schedule meetings, send too many emails, or bother workers on weekends if you don’t have to.
- DON’T Micromanage: even when managers can literally see what workers are doing at any point in the day, the urge to micromanage is strong. This urge can often become overwhelming when a manager faces the perceived loss of control that goes hand in hand with remote working.
- DON’T Neglect Team Spirit: while it may be more difficult to promote bonding initiatives for workers who are geographically far apart, spirit building is considerably more important to help remote workers who may be struggling with feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.
Remote work will continue to be a part of our lives, even as the pandemic eventually subsides. The right management style for remote work is complemented by the right digital tools to make sure your team is focused on the work that drives their purpose - not administrative tasks and data entry.