With the recent suggestion that work from home guidance could return to combat the possible surge in COVID-19, remote working is likely here to stay. In fact, according to research from Owl Labs, 89% of European businesses plan on adopting hybrid workforces after the pandemic.
Businesses have learned important lessons over the last 18 months, particularly the value that personal connections and communication have in business. However, it’s undeniable that the lockdown conditions, and continual remote working , has impacted the motivation and morale of many employees.
For small business leaders, it’s important that, as well as driving your business forward, you spend time thinking about how to ensure team spirits remain high. If people essentially make a business what it is – and we think they do - then morale is vital for keeping it working at an optimum rate. With that in mind, here are four tips to ensuring your employees stay motivated, through tough and simpler times alike.
It may be obvious, but when you’re working from home, it can be very easy to become disconnected from your co-workers. While they’re usually always a direct message or email away, the lack of human interaction between your fellow employees can take its toll on your working relationships.
So how can this be solved? Stay connected with one and another, whether in person or virtually. Depending on your country’s laws on meeting in large groups, organising off-site events is a good way to ensure that your employees are talking with each other and with you. And when this isn’t possible, group video calls are an alternative which can provide a platform to discuss work and, importantly, life outside of work.
However, staying connected doesn’t always have to be in a group setting, with some employees potentially preferring one-on-one meetings for more personal matters, such as wellbeing and mental health. Unfortunately, the pandemic has taken a significant toll on the mental health of many across Europe, with one EU report finding that between September and December 2020, 51% of people who had pre-existing mental health issues said their mental health had become worse since the outbreak. It’s therefore crucial as an employer you’re taking the time to check-in with employees to ensure they are receiving the help they need.
Aside from being detached from your fellow workers, working remotely can lead to feelings of alienation from your business itself. And where there’s a lack of communication about the business to your employees, problems can ensue. In a report published in April this year, McKinsey & Co found that a lack of communication about the future of a business led to employees being 2.9 times more likely to suffer moderate to high levels of burnout.
Communication from a business to its employees is crucial to ensuring everyone working collaboratively towards the same goals. To do this, consistent internal messaging is key, whether through quarterly business updates or your weekly catch-up.
What’s more, this messaging needs to be transparent and honest. Hiding the bad news can set employees up for nasty surprises and cause a loss of trust amongst your workforce. The more transparent you are, the more trustworthy you are in the eyes of your employees.
Everybody knows that collaboration is the secret sauce to business success. However, it’s also well known that it’s much easier to collaborate over a coffee in the same room rather than on a conference call. But, with the pandemic putting in-person collaboration for many businesses on hold, there are some effective methods to overcome this.
It’s almost a given that most European businesses use some form of communication software. For example, it was reported that Microsoft Teams was being accessed by nearly 145 million users on a daily basis earlier this year. However, apps such as Quip, Google Docs and Asana are an easy way to enable collaboration between workers on a variety of project types.
What’s more, scheduling in regular video brainstorms between teams can allow the creativity to flow while also helping normal conversation between workers, maintaining those important levels of communication.
As mentioned earlier, mental health has been impacted due to the work from home conditions enforced by the pandemic. With hybrid work structures likely to remain for the foreseeable future, it’s critical that business leaders are ensuring that the wellbeing of employees is protected.
One of the key problems with remote working is the temptation to continue working after hours. In fact, research has shown that workers are putting in an average of two hours extra work per day since the beginning of the pandemic. While doing extra work is sometimes needed, consistently exceeding your average work hours by 10 hours a week is extreme. So, to ensure your employees are getting the rest they need, recommending the use of boundaries, such as shutting down at certain times, could help limit burnout and help employees unplug from their workdays.
What’s more, encouraging healthy habits, such as consistent exercise throughout the week and taking breaks during the day, have been found to help workers decompress while boosting productivity and, most importantly, happiness in their roles.
Working from home has quickly become a constant in our lives. However, while many have adjusted to it, others have found this transition difficult, with it impacting their morale and productivity as a result. By using these simple tips, we believe you can keep business morale and employee engagement high for as long as remote working is necessary.
Supporting employees’ career growth and listening to their expectations is no longer optional, it’s fundamental for creating a positive employee experience. Read more in our short guide on how to create exceptional employee experiences.