Many employers and managers suddenly found themselves managing a remote workforce for the first time because of the COVID-19 outbreak that placed the entire island of Luzon on Enhanced Community Quarantine.
While some private companies in the Philippines have established remote-work policies in their organizations already, most were not able to prepare in advance. Ideally, proper guidelines and employee engagement strategies should be in place before implementing a work-from-home (WFH) system. But this level of preparation becomes challenging when there’s a global pandemic threat.
Fortunately, keeping your team engaged and productive does not require a complex plan. Here are simple things that managers can do to effectively motivate a remote workforce.
1. Believe in your team
Trusting your team is the first step to an effective WFH setup. And it’s often the most difficult, too.
Some employers find it hard to adopt such arrangement because of uncertainties in employee productivity. To combat this notion, start focusing on their accomplished tasks instead of their hour-to-hour activity. When people feel that you have faith in them, they become more driven to perform well and deliver output you’ll be proud of.
2. Extend in-office conveniences
One of the cons of remote work setup is having limited access to office conveniences. This includes a strong Wi-Fi connection, a dedicated workspace, and unlimited office supplies.
While it’s an employee’s responsibility to find or create a workstation of his own, making sure that they have the basic work tools encourages high productivity. Allow the use of company laptops. Set budget for Internet expenses. When these in-office benefits are extended, employees have less excuse to not get work done.
3. Hold virtual team meetings regularly
Even remotely, it’s important that you keep everyone aligned on recent activities in the organization. Having regular check-ins also opens opportunities for clarifications and collaboration within the team.
Video conferences make it easier for all of us to stay connected as we practice extreme social distancing measures. Now, it’s even possible to hold digital townhall events via Microsoft Teams and other platforms. When you can’t see your colleagues and talk to them in person, seeing them regularly via video calls becomes the next best thing.
4. Make time for small talk
A lot of times, you’re catching a deadline and you need to keep meetings short and to the point. But developing genuine connections with your employees is important, too.
Lower the ‘boss barrier’ a bit. Take at least 10 minutes off your meeting time to discuss non-work topics. Ask them how they are doing. Compliment their home. Or talk about what’s in their Netflix watchlist this weekend. While you might think that this type of interaction may sound superficial or forced, it’s the simplest way to show remote employees that you value them.
5. Keep your lines open and encourage your team to do the same
Another simple way to motivate a remote workforce effectively is to stay in touch. With employees missing social interaction in an office setting, the basic way to establish connection is to chat via instant messaging platforms.
Whether it’s about a quick update on project status, an urgent request, or just a random meme shared to the team, respond and don’t leave a message ignored. Keep the conversations going and stay connected.
6. Offer helpful feedback
Nothing demotivates an employee more than knowing that the next message they’ll receive is probably just another reminder of what they have done wrong. Be intentional when giving feedback to help employees perform better. Likewise, don’t hesitate to praise good output or acknowledge an idea.
You may have already noticed that a lot of the ways to motivate a remote workforce require communication. Because, well, it really is the key.
7. Express gratitude
Telecommuting because it’s part of your company policy is one thing. But working from home because there’s a global pandemic is another story. We should always appreciate the people who help us get through tough times.
One way to show your gratitude is by sending them digital rewards they can use to buy basic necessities like food and other grocery needs for their families. With solutions like the Sodexo Mobile Pass, it is now possible to send help to your employees instantly, wherever you are.
Or sometimes, it’s as simple as uttering words of appreciation. “Thank you”, “good job”, and given the current situation, “stay safe”, can go a long way.