The pandemic has forced many companies to forge into uncharted territory, with some or most of their employees now working from home. Remote work isn’t something new – in fact, there’s been a 159% increase in the trend in the last 12 years. And that was before Covid-19 hit.
The difference is that companies with remote workers have had time to develop methods to manage their teams. Managers who are now being thrown into the proverbial deep end, on the other hand, might feel a tad overwhelmed.
Don’t panic, though. It is possible to successfully manage a full or partly remote team and keep everyone highly motivated to work in synchronous harmony. Even with all of the distractions going on at home. Here’s a look at some of the things managers can do to motivate their teams while working from home.
Host Social Online Events That Connect People
One of the hardest things to cope with when working from home is being disconnected from co-workers and from the company itself. It’s very easy for people who work from home to start feeling like they’re a cog working for some faceless company. This doesn’t exactly foster a lot of loyalty or cohesion.
So it should be every manager’s goal to let their teams feel included and like they are part of a united group of people. Because what is a company without its people? Part of that is reminding them that they’re part of something bigger than themselves through social events.
These events shouldn’t just be about team building but should also create a space where people can unwind and have fun together. Remote work takes away all of those natural opportunities to meet up around the office, like having lunch together. So managers need to create those opportunities virtually.
Keep Business Goals and Work Culture Top of Mind
When people go to an office to work, they usually figure they might as well get some work done since they’re there anyway. But it’s a whole different matter when everyone’s at home, and there are no managers burning holes into someone’s back with their eyes.
It’s easy to fall into that trap of wanting to micro-manage by checking in via Zoom or Slack every few minutes due to anxiety. However, that strategy (if it could be called one) isn’t sustainable and will leave team members feeling frustrated. Instead, it’s important to remind them why their work matters. Provide actionable goals and create a discourse that centers around the company culture and vision.
Empowered employees that are given the tools to take charge of their work are much easier to manage. If they feel responsible for their work and that their team and manager trusts them to do it, then they’re going to get their work done. Part of that also means not focusing as much on how long people work – one of the perks of working from home is flexibility, after all. So instead, celebrate wins and output instead of nitpicking every second of everyone’s day.
Regularly Provide Feedback
Checking in with team members too often can be harmful, but not checking in enough is even worse. It helps keep everyone aligned on expectations and the weekly, monthly, or quarterly objectives they’re supposed to aim for.
Responsibilities and expectations should always be communicated, mostly because remote work doesn’t foster a space where people feel comfortable enough to ask. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic tools out there that can help facilitate this process and make it easier to track progress.
The most important side-effect of regular feedback is that it reminds employees that they aren’t being forgotten and left to their own devices. It also shows that their manager cares about them and their progress and professional growth. Moreover, it creates the opportunity for better back and forth of ideas leading to more innovation.
The Bottom Line
Don’t forget that cybercriminals have redoubled their efforts against businesses large and small this year, adding to the confusion and stress. So make sure to have proper security systems in place and always have employees connect to the internet via a VPN when they’re working from home.
Adapting to the work from home life is challenging thanks to many different factors. Staying motivated is a big one, but it isn’t an impossible obstacle to overcome. Keep in mind that none of this matters if the company is compromised due to cyberattacks.
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