Working from Home (or WFH) is not a new trend, but 2020 managed to turn it into an everyday reality for lots of people (whether they wanted to or not). This also means we had to adapt to a new way of approaching work connections, communication, and how to motivate staff.
While the technology is amazing, WFH is still uncharted territory when it comes to a healthy work environment that promotes productivity and focuses on people’s well-being. Furthermore, the fact that many employers and employees had to adjust to the remote working style on the fly (due to the COVID-19 situation), created a new series of problems for both team leaders and their staff. As such, if you are in the position to work with people remotely, here are a few tips and recommendations that can help you untie the Gordian knot of WFH motivation.
Set Clear Expectations
One of the reasons many employees prefer working from home is the flexible schedule. This is usually great for working mothers, who also have to take care of their little ones during the day.
Still, as the team leader, it is important to set clear expectations when it comes to the time of your team members. As such, if you need people online and active during specific times of the day, make sure to communicate this with the team.
A quick tip: Use a shared calendar that’s available to the entire team and where everyone can add and edit their availability. In addition, each member should be able to book time with the other members (in one-on-one sessions or conferences). This way, it is easier to see the time intervals when people are available for meetings and discussions.
Keep a Growth-Oriented Mindset
Distance and time away from a productivity-oriented environment can dull-down even the most powerful teams. As such, to make sure your team’s drive for progress and improvement won’t drop while working from home, it’s best to have a growth-oriented mindset.
For this, offer your team the time and resources to accomplish both personal and company goals. And, since everyone is working from home, now it’s a good time for self-education. Also, make recommendations based on each person’s preferences for growth, not just their current position in the company or the team. When you do this, the chances for new opportunities for the entire team increase.
In addition, it’s important to show that even a higher-up executive has room (and drive) to learn and improve. You can do this by taking an online PMP course and sharing the experience with the team.
Use Visuals To Keep Track of Progress
Even though all your meetings are on Zoom, visuals are still important when it comes to communicating progress and overall objectives. So, graphs, charts, and other visuals that can help convey the current state of a project should be used as much as possible.
The good news is that there are lots of apps you can use to make these and update them during the meeting, as everyone gives their insight.
Allow Room for Personal Stuff
Everyone is a bit more anxious nowadays, which is why it’s important to let people share their feelings (even if it’s a virtual work environment). As the team leader, you can create several messaging threads where members can talk about their current fears and problems. It can be a bonding experience that will make the team even stronger than before.
Furthermore, remote workers can’t separate work and personal life very well (especially if the entire family is at home). So, it’s important to be understanding and accepting.
Stay in Touch
Don’t expect people to just come to you with their problems. While this approach may work in the office, it is not effective in a WFH setting. So, to make sure problems are identified before it’s too late, keep in touch with each member of your team – and do it often.
Use all the tools at your disposal (video chats, email, text, messaging apps) to check with your team at least once or twice a day (at the start and the end) and schedule at least two general video meetings per week.
While it may seem a bit excessive, communication is crucial in a solid WFH relationship. If you can’t meet face-to-face and chat, you need to communicate a bit more often using the tools at your disposal.
Overall, it all boils down to good communication, a goal-oriented approach, and a focus on both individuals and performance. In the end, WFH is not that much different than working from an office. True, both the employer and the employees must make some adjustments, but as long as you keep a closer look at your people’s progress and personal growth preferences, things should go smoothly.
Useful research and academia on this topic:
- Assessing the growth of remote working and its consequences for effort, well‐being and work‐life balance, Alan Felstead, Wiley Online Library
- Remote Working: Advices to Reduce Risks and Boost Productivity, Lisa Agostoni, Iason