How to Motivate Employees When Your Workplace Moves to Their Home

Overcoming Work-From-Home Challenges and Motivating a Remote Team

As we move into yet another difficult period, it seems increasingly likely that workers will be required to work from home. This could be problematic for employee retention.

While there are many benefits available to those who work remotely (such as less commute time, greater autonomy, and fewer ‘in-office distractions’), there are also many challenges. If these challenges are not mitigated, workers can quickly become demoralized and demotivated. The outcome? A workforce that wants to quit.

So, how do you keep people motivated when they are working remotely?

Understanding motivation

Before you can develop strategies to keep your remote workers motivated, you must understand the dynamics of motivation.

Motivation is a state of mind that distinguishes between those who are interested and those who are not. It is a driving force that inspires people to keep going to achieve their goals. It can be derived from many sources, such as:

  • Drive: The motivating force in behavior. Drive is the sum of needs in Maslow’s hierarchy that are not currently being satisfied.

  • Needs: Something that people want or need to be happy or contented. This includes food, water, safety, shelter, and clothing.

Motivation is what moves you from intent to completion. To be motivated, you need to have:

  • A clear and achievable goal with a desired outcome

  • A practical and organized plan for achieving your goal

  • Commitment, dedication, and effort for achieving your goal

How to motivate your remote employees – The challenges to overcome

As organizations are not only forced to send their workers home but are also considering hybrid models of working, they may be looking forward to productivity gains. However, many workers say that they feel anxious and burned out. This leads to job dissatisfaction, poor relationships with colleagues, and lower work performance.

It is crucial that an organization’s leadership recognizes the challenges that workers face when working remotely, which include:

  1. Unplugging after work ─ when working at home, it is easy to slip into the mode of ‘always on’

  2. Loneliness ─ workers don’t have the social interaction they do when in the office

  3. Poor collaboration ─ it can be difficult to stay connected and work fluidly on projects

  4. Distractions at home ─ the phenomenon of the laundry looking at you or the kids tugging at your arm is entirely new

Leave these challenges unchecked and the result is difficulty in staying motivated.

How to motivate a remote team

Let’s take the four challenges we’ve outlined above and look at ways to overcome them.

  1. Unplugging after work

Help your workers to get their work done by close of business. How can you do this? Utilize systems that promote productivity, and stay in touch. Managers should be available to help with issues as they arise, and check-in with their people daily.

You might also put in place a process whereby workers communicate their individual needs to their colleagues at the end or beginning of each day so that the team can work together more effectively.

  1. Keeping loneliness away

It’s important to create a remote work culture in which people stay connected. Here, again, the example set by managers and leaders is paramount. 

Regular team meetings and one-to-ones should be incorporated into the daily and weekly structure of work. Instead of opening a conversation with, ‘What are you working on?’, managers should show empathy and understanding for their team’s mental health. Get to know your people, and take an interest in them, not for the work they do but for the humans they are.

An example of what works well? You could hold virtual social events, in which the team meets online not to talk about work, but to chat about life. They can no longer come to the water cooler, so bring the water cooler to them.

  1. Encouraging collaboration

Excellence in collaboration really comes down to one thing: communication. It’s essential that you use the right remote working tools that allow your team to communicate in real-time, sharing files, exchanging ideas, and chatting in groups.

  1. Tackling home distractions

When working at home, it is up to the individual worker to overcome distractions, but there are ways in which managers can help them.

For example, you could give tips on how to set up a workspace to minimize distractions ─ a room dedicated to work, with a door that shuts the outside world out. You should also consider giving advice about digital distractions, like Facebook and Twitter.

How to motivate a team remotely

Talk to your people about motivation. Show your own vulnerability, and discuss how you overcome down days. Encourage your team to be a hub of motivation for their colleagues, and help individuals to find what motivates them.

In one-to-ones, learn about people’s needs and wants, and discuss individual goals with them. Provide work that uses talents, stretches capability, and provides the type of challenges that will help people to develop in the direction they desire. Keep in touch, help people to relax after work, and ensure that there are systems and processes in place to keep people connected to their team.

Motivation has the same premise, whether your people are in the office or working from home, but the challenges are different – and this means you must modify your approach. Get it right, and you’ll reap all the benefits that remote working can offer.

To learn how we help teams make the transition from office to remote working to attain their full potential, contact Forward Focus today.

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