What a year it’s been!
As we were happily preparing for the holidays this time last year, no one could have predicted the impact that 2020 would have on business, with one of the biggest being remote working.
At one point over two thirds of the UK were working from home, which brought it’s own challenges; which room to work in, how to use online meeting tools and ways to keep the kids occupied whilst you made that important call. One of the biggest challenges, particularly as the lockdown started to impact on mental health, was (and still is) ‘How do I keep my people engaged and motivated when we’re not working together in the office?’
Reassurance, connection and business direction are essential as people juggle remote working with family and other personal issues. Use the C.O.N.N.E.C.T acronym (and the accompanying infographic), to ensure that your people are engaged with your business.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Regular two-way communication is an essential part of remote working, particularly when managers and colleagues have been used to working closely together in an office.
It’s so easy to miss that key piece of information that would usually be delivered over a desk, or to pick up on latest news through general office chats.
Tip: Create an exclusive ‘team’ conversation channel for sharing news and asking questions. Transparency is key
Don’t underestimate the power of the water-cooler chat. Your people will be missing this social interaction. How can you replicate that on-line? Perhaps set up a What’s App or Teams group solely for the purpose.
Understanding expectations of your organisation is essential to individuals being able to structure their day and retain accountability for their behaviour and performance.
Tip: Consider a Team Charter
Work with your team to agree a charter outlining how you will work together. This should cover things like:
- How you and your team will perform to deliver results
- The expectations of working remotely
- How you will communicate with each other
- The channels you agree to use to communicate and how you will use them
- How the team will share each other’s availability
- The behaviours you expect from each other and how you will hold each other accountable
- How you will support and include each other
- Your commitment to making the charter work
Once complete, share the charter with everyone in the team to encourage accountability and consistency.
3. New Ways of Working
From which room to work in, through to how to actually work from home, change can create anxiety for your people.
Do your people have the right equipment to work from home? Is there anything you can do to support? An array of new equipment is now on the market such as standing lap top risers and space saving tools – all designed to help your employees work at home more comfortably.
Tip: Encourage your people to hold ‘end of day’ rituals. Things like walking the dog or simply closing the door on their ‘office’ can support their work-life balance.
4. Nurture and Well-being
It’s more difficult to spot signs of someone who is struggling when working from home.
Tip: Weekly well-being check-ins
Think about weekly check-ins purely focussed on the individual – how are they feeling? How is the family managing or how are they finding working and living on their own. Use this as an opportunity to focus on their health and well-being and to observe warning signals such as tone of voice or disinterest.
Whilst you may be experiencing your own challenges with remote working, put yourself in the shoes of your people and try to understand how they might be feeling.
Tip: Reassure your team that working from home is a learning curve for all of you and share some of your experiences
Be receptive of new ideas and treat any failures as opportunities to learn.
Having check-ins at the start of every meeting where you encourage everyone to share how they are feeling can really aid understanding and support of each other.
Collaboration is vital for remote working both inside the team and within the wider business. You will have processes and platforms available for this such a Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Slack, so familiarise yourself with them to discover whether there is any additional functionality that will benefit your team.
Tip: Encourage your teams to experiment with the virtual platforms with other teams; involve them in your meetings and always tag on agenda time for team ‘gossip’ to share latest news and progress.
It is more important than ever when working remotely to emphasise mutual trust within a team and to embrace flexibility. No one wants to feel that they are being constantly checked up on. Think of an approach as Freedom within a Framework.
Tip: Resist the urge to keep checking up on your people. There is nothing more demotivating than feeling micro-managed. Set out clear goals and objectives and trust them to deliver.