In response to the lock downs and social distancing protocol, 88% of companies have encouraged their employees to work from home. However, this shift in work trends isn’t a new concept, prior to the pandemic 4.7 million employees in the United States worked from home for at least half the week.
However, with traditional work spaces out of use, project managers are wondering how they can motivate employees under the strain of limited physical interactions – and how can they sustain these practices?
Employers obviously want to foster a sense of community and inspire spikes in productivity. Trust and open communication are necessary for establishing collaborative work relationships.
If managers want their teams to succeed, they will need to master the art of motivating and engaging employees all from home.
How To Motivate Employees: The Challenges Of Remote Work
There are a number of factors that deem remote work a challenge. Managers need to understand them before they can act to fix them. If your business is new to working from home, you can expect a decline in productivity from top performers who are still getting used to their new environment.
Other challenges include:
Lack of face-to-face supervision
In work-from-home, both employees and project managers tend to express concerns on the lack of in-person interactions they have with work colleagues.
Managerial teams struggle with such barriers to communication and sometimes, this can lead to employees thinking that managers are neither supportive nor helpful towards facilitating their work.
Lack of access to information
Employees new to the work-from-home set up may be taken aback at the delays in locating information from coworkers and supervisors; even minor approvals on tasks can come across as obstacles when working from home.
More often, many situations involving work from home lack the context needed to fully understand the situation which may hinder effective communication.
For example, receiving incomplete work from an employee you noticed was sick can encourage you to be lenient due to their condition. However, you will probably call it a lack of professionalism if the same occurred with a remote employee.
One of the most common complaints of remote work is the loneliness employees feel outside the collaborative work environment where they interact and socialize with peers all the time. With your workforce forced to stay in, you can expect the number of disengaged employees to increase.
In the long run, this can sever the employee’s connection to your organization to wither as they feel ostracized – and this can result in them leaving your company.
The office serves the purpose of enabling parents to get out of the house and away from personal commitments that can prove to be immense barriers to productivity.
However, schools have shut down for months and daycares are facing closures too. Without an adequate work environment that can block out distractions, there are higher chances that your employee will be multitasking between work and home responsibilities.
Managers should expect, if not prepare for these circumstances, especially in hasty work-from-home transitions.
Top 6 Ways To Motivate Employees Working From Home
That being said, these challenges don’t come without quick and inexpensive solutions that managers need to effectively implement in order to be successful:
1. Improve Your Internal Communications Strategy
At the top of our employee motivation ideas is an effective communication strategy, which is crucial to successful internal collaboration. Employers should set up virtual staff meetings so that everyone is on the same page regarding core work-from-home values.
This is vital for employees working from home who don’t have the opportunity to collaborate with coworkers like they may have otherwise.
Don’t wait for employees to speak up about problems, especially when many of them will choose to handle issues themselves. Frequent check-ins with remote workers and offering help whenever they might need it can enable your workforce to be more productive – and more connected.
2. Video Calls Instead Of Phone Calls
Setting remote work solutions in place, places added responsibility on team leaders to instill effective communication and analyze productivity.
This is an obvious challenge, especially when the team isn’t together.
Communicate with employees over video call rather than voice call, which allows for more body language. Through video calls, you can gauge whether your employee is eager to be productive or simply uninspired.
Moreover, project managers can effectively transmit positive energy and motivation through video calls.
3. Set Clear Expectations And Guidelines
One of the biggest advantages of employing work-from-home solutions is the flexible schedule it offers your employees. However, if your business relies on steady work hours, you need to specify how and when you need employees to come online.
Check in with employees to ensure they’re sticking to schedules and that they are aligned through common goals.
If your team requires frequent department meetings, consider holding regular conference calls so you can employees on the same page.
If employees are late or frequently absent, hold them accountable for it. Your employees have more time and more energy on their hands. Provide clear direction on what needs to be done on a regular basis and enable a healthy work-life balance.
Ensure every employee has a clear picture of your business agenda and outline their deliverables. Regular performance reviews in your video meetings can help employees see where they’re going wrong and how they can fix it.
4. Offer Emotional Support When It's Needed
If your business has experienced an abrupt shift from a traditional work space to work-from-home, it’s important that managers acknowledge the stress and anxiety associated with working from home – and more importantly – empathize with them.
If managers notice employees struggling and refrain from communicating their issues, you should call in to check how they’re doing and facilitate an open door policy to ensure a better work environment.
Listen carefully to the response you receive: great leaders acknowledge the stress that employees go through and inspire confidence in their workers to strive forward. take the time out to let them know they've done a good job.
With this support, your employees are likely to take up problems as challenges, and work towards their goals with a renewed sense of purpose.
5. Leverage Technology To Your Advantage
Building and creating a virtual community – especially if you’re new to the process – has never been easier. With high-quality, user-friendly tools like Zoom and Slack on the market, project managers can easily support online collaboration in inexpensive ways.
Experiment with free trials and choose tools that work best for the online work environment you want to foster. Ensure you platform supports the basics of all work collaboration such as email and direct messaging tools so employees can download, share and access files easily,
Incurring technical problems within your platform can hinder workforce productivity, which is why employing reliable technology is so important.
Additionally, encourage team members to invest in strong internet connections for work to avoid running into issues such as video call glitches or update delays in projects.
6. Provide Frequent Feedback
Many managers tend to focus on micro-managing daily operations and forget to look at the big picture about ensuring long term goals are met.
Instead, you should make sure employees are engaged in weekly one-on-one meetings to maintain healthy work relationships. Steps like these help relationships grow on a personal level so you can better identify pain points and work to improve your employee’s happiness.
Recognition programs can also help to acknowledge your hard work and build employee morale.
For you and your employees to thrive in your new work environment, project managers should express gratitude towards employees to immerse themselves fully in their work and support the company’s plans.
Managing your now remote workforce will require the same approach as the one you take in your traditional office environment. However, you need to implement changes in the tools and strategies you use, so you can keep up with the challenges of work-from-home solutions.
Practically speaking, you can’t expect your employees to be motivated and engaged round the clock. It is highly possible that they may experience burn outs along the way, and present circumstances can be demotivating.
However, as a manager, you cannot take the risk of neglecting your responsibility to drive your terms to success. Work-from-home solutions are likely to stick around for a while. To reap the benefits of a motivated workforce, you will need to think beyond short term goals and implement these strategies for long run gains.
Our tips will help you ensure you and your team are aligned with organizational goals, so you can maximize productivity to unprecedented levels.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Some Effective Motivational Techniques For The Workplace?
A few ways you can incentivize employees are:
- Set smaller targets – short-term goals are easier to focus on.
- Ensure transparency – provide context and insight into company projects and what roles your employees play in them.
- Rewards based on feedback – rewards encourage employees to strive for higher productivity.
- Let them lead – let employees use the company as a platform to realize their own ideas.
- The bigger picture matters – show them the impact their contribution helps the company reach its end goals.
What Do You Say To Motivate Your Team?
Motivational reinforcement can do wonders for employees’ happiness and productivity. Here are a few words of encouragement; you can use to improve your company’s employee-manager communication:
- “We” not “I” – using inclusive language creates a sense of unity.
- “What do you think?” – include their opinions on projects and company processes
- “Thank you.” – let them know you appreciate their work.
- “This helps further our company’s objectives.” – give their work meaning by tying it to your company’s success
- “I trust your judgment.” – enable them to take the greater initiative by telling them you trust their instincts.
How Do You Motivate A Lazy Employee?
Unmotivated employees can hinder the productivity of others in their team as well.
But the only way to deal with them is to give them the leeway to find their own way around this problem.
You can do this by giving your employees a safe space to be themselves and margin to exercise flexible work schedules, and your employees will amaze you with newfound levels of productivity. On the other hand, you can set tight deadlines for employees that tend to procrastinate and encourage them to work at a consistent pace.