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Remote Working: How To Keep Momentum Going

remote working

With 2020 almost over and Christmas just around the corner, businesses have once again been hit by a second lockdown that we are just coming out of. The light at the end of tunnel seems to be getting further and further with the announcement of a new tier system all across the UK, with most areas finding themselves in Tier 2 and 3. No one ever thought the pandemic would last as long as it has, and yet here we are. Remote working now has become the norm and with the hot weather a distant memory, the novelty of it has worn off for many. Lack of motivation seems to be rife and the desire to go back to what was once “normal” is burning. Of course the question still remains; will it ever go back pre-covid days or will the future hold a “new normal” of hybrid office-based and home working?  

Keep Calm and Carry On

It has been a long year so far and throughout the pandemic businesses have been struggling with redundancies, trying to operate effectively with reduced resources and losing sales. Unfortunately, tough times still lie ahead of us and businesses need to keep up with customers demanding a superior experience, more than they ever have. It is what it is however, and businesses need to keep going and adapting. Resilience and imaginative solutions have never been as important as they are now.

Motivation is Key

Throughout the pandemic and especially in the last few months there has been a general murmur going around that we have noticed when talking to our candidates. There is a general air of people feeling demotivated, overwhelmed and in some cases unsure of how to work from home full-time. While pre-covid the people working from home had made a conscious decision as it suited their lifestyle, but like with everything it isn’t a one-size fits all and not everyone has taken like a duck to water to the new work environment.

At the start of it all, employees were engaged, involving themselves in video conferencing for all sorts of things like work, home-schooling, pub quizzes, etc. However, there’s a fatigue surrounding the likes of Zoom with less people engaging with work colleagues effectively. Video cameras are being turned off during business calls, and e-mails or instant messaging are becoming the go-to tools of communication. So that begs the question, how can businesses replicate informal conversations in the kitchen during a brew round? How can you keep momentum going in terms of culture when people are becoming less motivated and engaged from lack of social interaction?

There’s no two ways about it, it is one of the hardest problems to solve. While we don’t claim to have the holy grail of answers, we have put together a few tips to help you motivate your employees which in turn will boost morale, improve employee motivation, performance, and help your teams start working with each other well in order to help your business adapt to this new landscape of the remote world.

Bypass E-mails

We’ve all been there, sent an e-mail when it would have made more sense to call. Back in July HubSpot conducted research across 70,000 global customers and found that there had been an increase of 20% in businesses sending more e-mails than before we went into lockdown. While sometimes it makes sense to drop someone a line via e-mail, but other times resolutions happen faster over the phone. Not only is it quicker, but also offers some form of human interaction that e-mail just doesn’t hit.

Turn on that Camera!

Yes, sometimes you just don’t everyone to see the mess that your toddler has made or maybe it’s just a bad hair day that you’ve not bothered with because ‘hey, I’m working from home!’, but turn that camera on! Everyone is working from their own homes, no longer collectively in the same place, so this is an effort employees should make. Just by seeing the person you’re having a conversation with ensures a level of human-to-human contact which can bridge some of the gap. Not only that, but a video call can also make sure that employees are engaged in the call, listening and truly inputting their two-cents instead of getting distracted by something else. It’s the closest thing to a face-to-face conversation so we should all take advantage of it!

Drowning in a Sea of Conference Calls

While the previous point drove home the importance of the “video call”, it’s also key to not overdo it. With so many working from their homes it looks as though people are scheduling more and more conference calls than ever before. While this is natural and a great thing in moderation it is important not to fall into the other extreme, where employees are jumping from call to call to the detriment of getting work done. It’s important to be mindful of this, and schedule in a moderate amount of calls a week. No one wants conference call fatigue!

Remotely Managing Teams

While it’s easy to let your team just get on with it, because they know what they are doing you should also try to provide them with clear objectives or key performance indicators. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of an aim when you’re isolated and remote working, so a reminder or what your team is expected to achieve will provide them with a target and clarity. You can get as creative as you want with how you incentivise your employees, whether by setting bonuses, rewards, or even gamification- the world is your oyster.

This new type of work environment is now about the output your employees produce and no longer about the hours that they work. Long gone are the days when employees needed to be seen working for the sake of it and that’s not such a bad thing. Give your employees their autonomy, let them make choices and empower your managers to make decisions. Just make sure it’s a consistent strategy and you’ll have one happy team!

To-Do Lists

Employees should be encouraged not to lose sight of their to-do lists. It’s important to keep it in mind even when people are bombarded left right and centre with e-mail and other digital interactions. These can quickly feel overwhelm employees, so a prioritised to-do list is key. Actioning the more urgent to the least chronologically will help structure days and give clear paths to accomplishing tasks.

Teamwork

It’s very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when you are remote working in your own little bubble at home, but it is crucial to remember to work as a team with colleagues and connect with them virtually. There are a whole host of collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Teams, Avaya Spaces and 8×8 Work and they all allow colleagues to send IMs, share screen, work on and share documents, and host video calls. This will help relieve the tedious task of sending e-mail edits back and forwards.

Mentoring & Coaching

Bringing new recruits on-board remotely is undoubtedly difficult. You still need to coach, train and mentor your new employees and it can be an arduous process particularly if you’re welcoming new recruits straight out of university. Remember to be mindful that this is a new experience for them, that some might find hard to adapt to at first. Schedule time to plan and set out a digital training programme with them to offer support through their new experience. You also need to ensure that your new team member meet their colleagues via video conference and create a space for them where they can begin connecting socially with team members.

You could think of organising some virtual events such as Friday curry, a bake off or even just a chat. All of these social activities may not seem as important, however they are key in making sure your employees are connected with each other. At the end of the day we all feed off human interaction and if you want your team to work well, you shouldn’t disregard it.

A New Culture

With a new work environment should come a new vision and culture. Make sure you’re transparent about it and build it so that it stops the formation of digital islands that are forming within your workplace. People need to be encouraged to share their work and to work together on projects.

This new culture needs to be one where your employees are not afraid to come up with fresh suggestions, or afraid to try out new strategies, ideas, or processes. Most of all however, your employees shouldn’t be afraid to fail- because without failure there is no success.   

Mental Health

Even if you haven’t been affected by mental health issues throughout lockdown, you will have heard the statistics. Mind, the mental health charity, has reported that more than half of adults (60%) and over two third of young people (68%) have struggled with their mental health throughout the lockdown. What’s more the ONS (Office for National Statistics) has suggested that nearly one in every five adults have been experiencing mental health problems.

Make sure you remember to listen to your employees and check-in every so often, discussing their well-being. Everyone’s home life is different and these are tough times we’re all going through. Encourage your employees to take regular breaks and cut them some slack at times. It is also important to acknowledge the fact that some time out, like walking their dog, or reading a book, is key to re-energise and focus.  

Another important aspect is that employees sign off at the end of the day and switch off from work. It’s easy to fall into a pattern where work-life spills into their home life, but remote working should not mean that. Instead of working all the hours from home, output and productivity should be the measured metric.

Holiday Days

Many employees will be amassing annual leave as holidays have been cancelled en-masse through the year due to the pandemic. It’s important to encourage your workers to take time off and really disconnect over the Christmas period or once in a while. Even though remote working means they’re at home, being glued to the computer isn’t relaxing. Everyone needs a reset!

While these unprecedented times will continue to be tough, it’s crucial that managers and employees try to keep sight of what matters and keep positive. We all need to motivate each other as we find out that we need to work on new skills to help us work remotely.

While it isn’t all doom and gloom, it’s important to remember that during tough times people grow, evolve and learn and good things usually come out of the bad. Maybe this is the time where your business and teams will figure out new processes to become more efficient, ways to improve customer experience, or find technologies to help you automate menial tasks. But most importantly businesses need to remember that their people are the beating heart and keeping the buzz alive is key!

What do you think about our tips on remote working and keeping the momentum going? Do you have any ideas that we may have missed?

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