Engaging your team

How to keep staff motivated while working from home

Will Jacobs
working from home
© Shutterstock / Zaie

Remote working presents several threats to productivity – chief among them being the implications of social isolation and work-life balance. How then can employers help their teams manage time and maintain productivity levels?

Motivation is central to good business. It is what drives workers to get the job done. In the current crisis, motivation is even more important than before. Employers need to find ways to keep their employees engaged and productive to see them through the pandemic.

This is no easy feat. COVID-19 has forced organisations across many sectors to hastily implement remote working en masse. Many managers and employees will be working from home for the first time and perhaps struggling to adjust to the new normal.

Remote working presents several threats to productivity – chief among them being the implications of social isolation and work-life balance. How then can employers help their teams manage time and maintain productivity levels? Here are five things leaders can do to motivate their remote workforce.

SEE ALSO: Alternative tips to live your best life while working from home during a pandemic

Communicate effectively

Communication is by far the most important variable to nail when managing a remote workforce7. It lays the foundation for all collaboration, strategy, and success. It makes organisational priorities clear and sets the agenda ahead. Beyond this, it keeps workers feeling connected and not isolated.

Team leaders should aim to be as clear as possible, to ensure that their workers are completely aware of what is expected of them. Ensure they understand:

  • The objectives for the short term, and the long term.
  • What projects need doing, alongside their deadlines.
  • At what times they need to be available, so they can work around other private life commitments, such as family, groceries, etc.
  • Who to contact for support.

At the same time, leaders should emphasise to employees where they stand in the context of the wider issues facing the business, and communicate their value in this context. In doing so, will make them more engaged.

Scheduling regular team meetings – supported by online project management boards – are excellent ways of keeping team members in touch and up to date with progress, as well as providing a medium to discuss ideas and strategy. Managers might also adopt one to one video check-ins to discuss goals, personal performance, and work-life balance, to ensure no worker feels left behind.

Ultimately, it’s paramount your communication strategy doesn’t simply succumb to the position of a bulletin board. Involve your employees in these trying times. Be approachable and stay open. Be clear about the support available to them while working from home. If employees are left feeling they aren’t supported – especially in circumstances such as these – they are likely to become overwhelmed, which will reflect negatively in their work.

Celebrate achievements

Positive employees perform better. It is extremely important that leaders keep spirits elevated, and in this present situation, it’s never been more important. A great way to do this is to celebrate employees for their successes.

Workers that continue to work hard, without being acknowledged for their work, risk becoming distant. By recognising a job well done, minor victories, or how one member of your team has supported another, you give employees continued reason to work hard. There are several ways you can demonstrate recognition. For instance, you could give congratulations in video meetings, or a company newsletter, or an HR portal. You could also consider reward incentives, such as learning and development courses, hobby/lifestyle classes, vouchers from online stores, and the like.

Help define the boundaries

Working remotely has been found to contribute to higher levels of stress – which impacts both motivation and performance. This can be down to a number of reasons, but most notably relates to the challenge of maintaining work-life balance, as the line between personal and work lives becomes blurred.

Encouraging employees to establish effective timekeeping – such as setting a schedule or routine, as well as setting a designated work area – will help them not only help them focus on their work but also their out-of-work commitments. Beyond this, employers should also accentuate the importance of taking regular breaks, undertaking physical activity, and shutting off work communications outside of office hours. All these initiatives help remote workers take the time to re-energise, which will reflect positively in their work.

Continue professional development

Providing training opportunities is among the top things that employees report make them perform better and feel more motivated. Employees that feel they aren’t equipped with the right skills or know-how to approach a project may feel overwhelmed, or suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ – a massive impediment to motivation. Working from home, where employees may feel cut off from the support that naturally results from working near others, only intensifies such anxiety.

Employers that take the initiative, and ask their staff if they have the skills they need to do their job, will run into fewer problems. Encouraging staff to pursue learning not only gives people a break from daily tasks, but it also evidences the organisation is truly committed to their development and sees them as a valuable asset in the business.

SEE ALSO: The impact of working from home on developers

Be flexible to employee needs

It’s critical to understand that some employees will simply require more time to adjust to the new normal than others. Recognising that each employee is in unique circumstances, working in a unique environment, is extremely important. Issues beyond work can and are negatively impacting employee engagement across organisations.

Showing compassion and flexibility in these difficult times can be the difference between a demotivated and an engaged workforce.

Motivation is critical to the initiative and quality work. By staying on top of what keeps your workforce engaged, by communicating effectively and by providing support where things get tough, you can rest assured the bulk of your workforce remain stimulated – regardless of where they work.


Will Jacobs

Will Jacobs, a graduate of the London School of Economics, heads social media and authors content at Cezanne HR, a leading supplier of modern Cloud HR and payroll software.

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