Right now, tens of millions of people who would otherwise be working in a corporate office are working from home. This is a good thing. If the COVID-19 pandemic happened 20 years ago, remote working would be far less viable of an option. Yes, people had internet at home back then, too. But connectivity speeds were much slower, and many were still using dial-up modem technology. Imagine taking 15 minutes to download a presentation (and even longer to upload one). And as for real-time video conferences: forget about it!
However, the fact that millions of people are working remotely right now doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily working in a way that won’t lead to exhaustion and burnout. After all, sooner or later this crisis will be over. When that happens, organizations want to welcome back enthusiastic employees — not zombies.
And so, to help our customers and all other companies that have temporarily deployed a distributed workforce (and may decide to continue this approach to some extent for the long-term), here are 10 tips to engage, motivate and energize remote workers:
- To create a sense of unity, and also to keep track of who’s communicating (and who isn’t), have all remote workers use the same chat/instant messaging platform, such as the one that is built into our VoIP phone system. You don’t want some remote workers using Slack, some using Facebook Messenger, some using What’s App, and so on.
- Establish fair and reasonable goals for remote workers, so they know what’s expected of them in terms of performance and productivity. With this in mind, don’t assume that remote workers will be inefficient. On the contrary, research has shown that 39% of people working from home complete their tasks faster than those in offices.
- For businesses that offer customer/technical support, keep an eye on call metrics (volume, duration, frequency, etc.) to detect whether some remote workers are overloaded and overwhelmed.
- Supervisors, managers, or executives (as appropriate) should look for opportunities to recognize remote workers who go the extra mile. A short email to the team can make a big difference in morale. Don’t just reach out to remote workers when something needs to be done or when something goes wrong.
- Within reason and provided that it’s feasible, allow remote workers to choose when they get work done. For example, some may be more productive very early in the day before their young children wake up, while others may be able to focus more in the afternoon. Try to be as flexible as possible and focus on what is produced (quantity and quality), and not when work is done.
- In a corporate office environment, workers can rely on external cues to manage their time effectively. But at home, these cues are typically missing — and as such, they may struggle to manage their time. Help them overcome this challenge by sharing time management tips through emails or internal blog posts. It may also be helpful to have remote workers enroll in free time management online courses offered by various e-learning platforms, such as Coursera, MIT Open Courseware, Udemy, Stanford Online, edX, and iTunes U.
- Speaking of e-learning: an excellent way to keep remote workers engaged and looking forward to the future is by having them enroll in an online course(s) to enhance their existing skills, or learn new skills that are relevant to their job duties and career path. All of the platforms mentioned in #6 offer free courses in a variety of technical and business-related subjects, such as human resources, financial management, cybersecurity, project management, and much more.
- Hold a “virtual happy hour” once a week so that remote workers can get together in an informal way to connect, unwind and check up on each other. The only rules are (of course) no alcohol since it’s still during the workday, and no talking about work!
- Encourage remote workers to take short breaks throughout the day. Many people who are new to remote working (and some who have been doing it for years) fail to take real breaks. For example, if they have a few minutes between calls or after finishing a task they jump up to do the laundry, wash the dishes, or take care of some other domestic chore. Obviously these need to get done. But break time needs to be break time, or else burnout is very likely — if not inevitable.
- Help remote workers optimize their workspace by providing tips and guidance (like this and like this). While working on the kitchen table or right next to a loud furnace or AC might be tolerable for people who work at home occasionally, it is a major problem for those who are working from home all day, every day.
Remote Working is the Present — and the Future
We don’t know what the pandemic “new normal” will look like, but there is one thing we can be certain of: remote working is going to surge in popularity like never before. The above tips will help your organization make remote working productive and profitable right now, and give you a significant competitive advantage for years to come!
Need more help getting set up to work from home? Simply get in contact with us today by either giving us a call on (336) 850-5400 or chat with us during business hours by clicking the chat icon on the lower-right of your screen. A local Greensboro, North Carolina-based business, we’re here for all your remote working needs.