It’s been months since the pandemic started to change our world, with leaders now having to reconsider many aspects of their business.
One area which has altered significantly is the dynamics in newly remote teams.
Teams have changed – from obvious transformations through furlough and redundancy to more subtle shifts in mindset and career aspirations.
For many Excel clients, the working world has gone remote; this might be only for the next year, although in some cases, possibly forever.
As teams return to ‘normal’, many of your team will be working from home, which requires a different leadership approach.
One of the main arguments against remote working is that employees find it harder to stay motivated – and recent data from this Harvard Business Review study has found this to be true.
So when your team are working remotely, and they’re naturally less motivated, what can you do to help?
Acknowledge the Difficulties of Remote Working
As I mentioned earlier, the Harvard Business Review study found that employees lacked motivation when working from home.
What’s worse is that when employees have no choice in the matter, their motivation levels plummeted even further. And that’s what is happening right now – many employees are working from home out of necessity.
There can be a variety of reasons for employees to feel less motivated when working from home, including:
- Environmental patterns – home equals relaxation time
- Difficulty getting into ‘work mode’
- Lack of interaction with colleagues
- A loss of focus and direction with tasks
- Increased distractions
- Poor home-working set-up
Working from home has been hailed by some as the perfect working arrangement – but as you can see, for some people it presents a less than ideal scenario.
The onset of the pandemic happened so quickly, and for the most part, employees coped well with the transition to working from home.
And by now, you will be well aware of which members of your team are coping well working from home and those that aren’t; this is especially key if remote working is going to be in place for several more months.
So what can you do to motivate your team remotely? Here we have four strategies which will help.
1. Have a Post-Covid Review
You might be waiting until the end of the year to conduct performance reviews, but it will be beneficial for both you and your team to have a post-change check-in.
This can be a less formal catch-up where you can go over with each team member the way that their role has changed, how they’re coping working from home and if they have any issues that need addressing.
For example, they might need additional help. Or they could have a problem with their home working set-up that needs addressing, or they might be doing fine – you won’t know until you ask and you are completely clear how they are progressing in their new remote role.
2. Set Clear Expectations – With Flexible Timescales
Working from home for some people means a more flexible schedule, and this is especially true when it involves childcare duties.
So many newly remote workers are juggling childcare with work, and this overlap is what has caused increased overwhelm for some.
Setting clear expectations of your team will help them to stay motivated, but giving them timescales, rather than micromanaging their daily tasks can help them to feel in control and consequently, more motivated.
There will be times when you need your team to be available and online, but outside of this, acknowledge that your remote team could require more flexibility. Often this is referred to as ‘asynchronous working’, where you focus on outputs rather than hours worked.
3. Focus on Personal Development
The pandemic has been a difficult time for many people, and merely getting the job done has felt like an uphill struggle for some newly remote employees.
Businesses that will thrive in the coming months with new remote teams are the ones who focus on training and developing their employees.
It’s not enough for employers to ask their team to work from home and all of the potential challenges that this can bring – they need to help develop them with new skills to thrive in this new business landscape.
Development topics could include:
- Technology/cybersecurity training to help employees feel more comfortable with home office set-ups
- Coping with change
- Staying resilient
- Adopting a growth mindset
- Productivity and focus
- How to ask for and receive feedback
Additionally, ask your team if there are any topics they would like training on – when employees know you are invested in them, this is one of their biggest motivators.
4. Help Employees Realise Their (New) Purpose
Every employee who is part of a team will know where they fit in; what their role is and what is expected of them.
But for many teams, this will have been altered dramatically in recent months.
Some employees will be undertaking new duties; teams have changed in size, your business function and entire ideology might have changed due to Covid.
This change requires a new mindset.
It’s not enough to expect your team to carry on after the most significant disruption to our generation with the same job role descriptions and performance expectations. You must address what has changed and then help them find a new purpose in our new normal world.
Motivating a remote team is a new skill, which many leaders will not have previously been equipped to handle.
The difficulties of the last few months are not insurmountable; strong, directional leadership is needed to street your team through the next phase of your post-Covid plan.
For more information on post-Covid leadership topics, head to our blog, additionally, click here to view our range of free leadership resources to help you become a better leader starting today.
P.S. If you would like to attend one of our complimentary taster workshops on working with remote teams call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.
About Excel Communications
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Excel Communications is a learning and development consultancy based near London in the U.K. For more than 30 years; we have been collaborating with clients across the globe.
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