Remote working has often been a thing that many directors and managers wouldn’t even consider in previous times. I’m unsure whether this has been due to lack of trust or their inability to manage from a far!
However, it has now become a reality for many businesses and rather than trust and management being the main concern it is one of keeping morale high and ensuring employees are still engaged and feeling loved when the personal touch (not in an ‘against HR policy’ way) cannot be given!
I have some clients that have never worked in an office – they have always been remote and I have some that freely allow staff to work at home and they have successfully kept morale high and their staff engaged.
So at the end of this very busy, trying, first week for many here are my five top tips to keeping morale high, employees engaged and still feeling part of the team whilst they are at home.
My most favourite but very underused ‘C’ word in many businesses! Now more than ever it is important that you are sending out messages, keeping staff informed – even if the message isn’t positive tell them; its better the messages come from you then the rumour mill (one good thing about not being in the office – no more toxic water cooler chats!).
You’re in control so send out emails, update the intranet, keep the newsletters going – the format may need to change but keeping communication high on the agenda will ensure people are still engaged and working rather than sitting there wondering ‘what if’? or ‘why bother?’.
Make sure to consider individual personalities and how best to approach them – are they more likely to want/need an email or is the phone the best way to keep them up to speed? No one method will ever be suitable for everyone.
Set Clear expectations
Although for the first few days people often feel free working at home, the feeling of no specific routine can start to get people down. Be clear about what you expect them to achieve, taking into account the added issue at the moment of potentially other distractions in the house (kids, husbands, Boris’ daily announcement) and let them have some flexibility about how and when they complete it.
Do not micromanage. Nothing more needs to be said on that.
Set up online meetings
Nothing beats a face to face so use the ever increasing, wonderful technology that we are all blessed with these days and set up regular online video meetings.
You can set up a variety including the normal team meeting approach with the usual agenda to ensure the business is working efficiently and progressing as needed, as well as maybe a ‘lunch and learn’ midday break/get together for relevant people.
Be creative, everyone is different but make sure there is something to include everyone.
Its often harder to see what everyone is doing when people aren’t in the office but individuals are still working their little socks off and achieving great things.
Make sure that you recognise these achievements – personally and shout about it to everyone. Little acts like this encourage better performance from everyone else too which in turn will increase the business’ whole productivity.
Encourage regular breaks
When I have worked at home within a business before I have often felt I have had to put in 150% and sit at my desk from 6 to 6 as no one can see that I am working so I have to prove myself to anyone that cares! This is not the right attitude.
I assume when we employed these people, we trusted them to do a good job and we didn’t employ them for their ability to spend hours at their desk!
Encourage everyone to take regular breaks. This will keep productivity levels and the quality of the output higher. Encourage everyone to use the tools available – the outlook calendar, the status on their instant messenger or they could send a message to the team to let them know they’ll be unavailable.
This isn’t to micromanage or to monitor when people are having a wee or a coffee but to allow individuals time to refresh and recharge without feeling guilty or being interrupted.
Above all during these changes, remember as a manager it is your duty to maintain morale and engagement – it should be a top priority. Think outside the box, make sure you include everyone and where you don’t know the answer or best approach ask for support.
I know good communication, inclusion, feedback and recognition will go along way to keep the strength in your team and business long past the time we’re all back in the office.
And as final note, if you have people on furlough leave don’t forget about them completely during this time. We know they are unable to do any work for you during the period of furlough leave but theres nothing (from what I can see) that prevents you from having a bit of a social. One of my clients has arranged KIT (Keeping in Touch) times and they chat about anything and everything not work related!
Arrange coffee catch ups, lunch with wine, whatever floats your boat but remember we will get through this (we honestly will!) and it is really important that you still have a joined up team to come back to!
Have a great weekend all.
If you need help with engagement or any other HR issue we are still working and happy to help. Give us a call on 01903 868502 or drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org