The trend towards remote or home working – either to replace or in hybrid with a typical office environment – has taken a massive leap forward following the COVID-19 pandemic. While an uptick in a business’s green credentials might be an immediately obvious benefit, remote working does come with its own unique set of challenges.
Being physically separated from your team can be daunting, raising questions on how to maintain motivation and productivity as a start. This article is for the doubters – by sharing our own experiences, we hope to show that you can make sure your team stays just as motivated and potentially even more productive than it was before COVID-19 changed the working world forever.
Motivate your team
The first thing to remember is that most people want to achieve. As productivity is monitored so intensely, it’s rare to find lazy people who are happy to rest on their laurels (although there is always the exception to the rule). To keep your people motivated, positive feedback is key. As well as providing direct 1-to-1 feedback of a job well done, it’s important to provide recognition and positive reinforcement in public settings (think team meetings, or company-wide emails) because the rest of the team will instinctively want that praise heading their way too. An upshot of this is that individuals will experience an increase in confidence, whilst also reinforcing to the wider team what’s expected of them.
Setting group targets and rewarding those that achieve their goals is nothing new but ensures that everyone has a vested interest in succeeding. Remember though that when the workload falls primarily on a few individuals, this can lead to challenges if that small group becomes a bottleneck. To overcome this, make sure that responsibilities are split as evenly as possible and that all the pressure to deliver doesn’t fall on one person.
Trust your team
There’s nothing wrong with sending the occasional ‘checking in’ email to make sure members of your team are working to the right timings and standards. However, many employees will be put off by being micro-managed. Try to leave your team to do the jobs they’re tasked with and offer your assistance should they need it, instead of chasing for updates long before deadlines are due.
Obviously, no one is perfect and there will be times where constructive feedback is required to prevent small issues snowballing into much larger problems. Addressing issues should be done in a 1-on-1 setting to ensure that the individual concerned doesn’t feel like they’re getting a public flogging. If the same feedback applies to more than one individual within a team, it’s fine to share feedback with the team at large as long as it’s framed as a training need rather than singling an individual out.
If you still have problems in keeping your team productive, there are various technologies that can help you keep staff on-track, though invasive tools like keyloggers should really be a last resort.
Connect with your team
Great camaraderie only happens when teams are comfortable with their colleagues and know that their managers have a genuine interest in seeing them succeed. So, get to know them personally and learn what makes each member of your team tick!
Now that many of us are faced with the reality of video-chat burnout, try to branch out and give a colleague a phone call to see how they’re doing. Or, why not try something different and send them a Gif you think they’d like to kick a conversation off? Don’t forget to allocate some face-to-face time for the group to get to know each other and let off some steam, even if it’s once or twice a year. We have a weekly ‘Fun at 5’ session, which is hosted at our Fibar for staff within the office (maintaining social distance of course), as well as remotely for those working from home.
Direct your team
While some may think that directing your team isn’t that different to motivating them, we think there’s a major difference. Think of your business like a symphony, the conductor keeps all the various teams in harmony and to the right beat.
With so much having changed in the last six months, your team may be so pressured to get the job done that they’ve lost sight of the WHY behind the WHAT. If your business has a particularly inspiring mission statement, it’s always worth reminding of them of the effect your business has and how you promote positive change in the community.
Equip your team
While shoddy workmen may well blame their tools, if your team hasn’t got the right services in place to complete the tasks at hand, you’ll face an uphill battle to get your projects done to an acceptable standard.
However, every business is different, and the cloud-based applications one business uses for its collaboration, CRM, accounting etc. won’t necessarily be the same as another’s. While word of mouth and recommendations are important, finding a partner that knows these services inside-out and can advise on the best implementations for your particular business is vital.
What’s more, the best technology partners will also have deep understanding of API integration, meaning that they can help create links between your disparate platforms. We’ve recently done work around this by connecting our CRM with our marketing automation platform as both are provided by different suppliers. It means that all conversations are instantly recorded in the right place, and staff only use one platform, rather than switching between several.
With so much going on in the outside world, leaders need to be embodying positivity like never before. If you’re looking to try and supercharge your workforce, a little optimism, combined with the right tools and connectivity to remain productive, will go a long way and if you forget these key factors, try to remember the phrase “My Team Can Do Everything 😊” – Motivate, Trust, Connect, Direct, Equip!
We hope that our learnings as we’ve moved through lockdown into a combination socially distanced and remote-working scenario help your business to see its way through difficult times. Feedback is key, so let us know your experiences of what has or hasn’t worked.