COVID-19 has sent the majority of the world’s workforce into lockdown, forcing many people (including our own) to work-from-home. A month into this unprecedented pandemic, people all over the world are feeling the negative side effects of working remotely. There is the mundanity of staying indoors, mixed with the emotional pressure of new family arrangements and the economic pressure of people losing their jobs. All these elements create a whirlwind of potential issues that can drain the motivation of the most optimistic of teams. In order to help you and your company combat the new pandemic-induced dreary existence we all find ourselves in, we’ve put together some of our top tips to help keep your staff motivated during these uncertain times.
Effective communication is a necessity in these strange times. It’s likely that your employees are lamenting their inability to work with their co-workers directly. Now that communication is less spontaneously, it is important that your team tries to keep in touch and communicates with more intentionality. Video calls are a great way to keep some of the normalcy of direct communication. Being able to see your colleague as well as hear them, can help avoid feelings of isolation and also improve a sense of accountability between colleagues.
Don’t just talk business. Make the effort to communicate both professionally and personally with your team. Host lunchtime video conferences to help people feel like they are back in the office kitchen. Also, engage with your team on one-on-one calls, this can help to foster deeper relationships and ensure that everyone still feels like they are part of a company. Try developing a habit of adding people into conversations. If you’re talking about a particular project with a colleague, look for ways to collaborate with others outside your team to provide feedback or advice where possible.
Encourage creative problem-solving:
One of the main reason’s employees lose motivation is because remote work tends to become more mechanical and tactical focused, rather than prioritising problem-solving over the long-term. This can cause employees that are used to this kind of work to become disinterested. COVID-19 is forcing many organisations to innovate. The dramatic shift to online has brought a series of challenges and opportunity to businesses across industries. Consider how your team might be able to balance the everyday tactical work, with the long-term innovation work. Host brainstorming sessions to see where your colleagues feel particularly passionately and give them creative reign to develop solutions to some of the organisation’s problems. Not only will this give them interesting work, but it will also help them to feel like they are directly contributing to the wellbeing of the organisation.
Re-establish company culture:
Now more than ever is an important time to rely on your organisation’s cultural pillars. An article in Harvard Business Review highlights the importance of company culture in the motivation of employees, this is still true for remote employees. The fundamentals of establishing a healthy culture are based around cultivating trust within your organisation. Whatever theme your culture is built on, aim to demonstrate these values with the clear objective of building trust. If innovation is a core cultural pillar, think about how you can establish trust within your team to share and build on each other ideas to find a new solution to a problem.
Take a holistic approach:
COVID-19 comes with a series of emotional and economic pressures on everyone, including your team. People aren’t just stressed about meeting deadlines or doing good work, they are also dealing with fears of paying rent, protecting the health of their families, and how to safely buy groceries. Engaging with your team holistically is crucial to ensuring they are motivated. This might include flexible working arrangements for those that have children and need to help home-school them. This could be promoting physical exercise and encouraging your team to go for lunchtime walks or maybe conducting online team Zumba classes. It could even be just checking in on an employee you know lives by themselves. Understanding how your people might be feeling is an important step toward keeping them motivated in these challenging times.
Change is hard to navigate for any organisation, particularly one which is having such disastrous effects on both our economies and the health of our communities. Hopefully, these tips help you and your team continue to operate as normally as possible during these unprecedented times.