Since many of us continue to work from home, ensuring that employees stay productive is a key concern for many business owners. No doubt, you’ve hired mature people who get their work done, and find that micromanaging them is not only unhelpful but counterproductive. Here are some other ways to ensure that they’re able to stay motivated during this time.
Provide them with the equipment they need
Now that everyone’s working from home, they need the technology to succeed. Your firm should have a paid web conference account so that everyone can use it to meet virtually, without time or number of participant limitations.
In addition, if you don’t already have project management software, you might consider investing in it. This allows the team to collaborate on tasks and provides online forums to interact with each other. It also removes the manual need to rely on spreadsheets to keep current on shared tasks. Some of the management apps also include chat or messenger capabilities, but if not, there are other solutions that provide them for the team as well.
When people are back in the office, these software apps can help employees to continue to work together as a team.
Promote the use of dedicated workspace
When employees work from home only occasionally, it may be fine for them to sit on the sofa with their laptop. But once they’re working from home for multiple days in a row, they need to have an ergonomic setup to avoid injury. This normally requires dedicated space to work in.
In addition, having a space that’s separate and just for work helps both the employee and their family to distinguish between work time and home time. Which helps them be more productive at work.
You might consider offering your employees a stipend to purchase necessary equipment, such as a computer desk and chair that can be adjusted to the correct height for ergonomics. The space may be temporary during coronavirus, but at this point in summer 2020, it certainly seems that working from home is going to continue for several more months.
Institute short daily check-ins
Because there’s no longer a space for people to catch up or talk to others about how they’re doing, a daily check-in is beneficial. (Agile project management teams use their “stand-ups” to great benefit during project sprints.)
The check-in helps employees stay connected to the team as well as manage their priorities. You might choose to have one-on-one check-ins with direct reports, or a small group check-in so that everyone knows what everyone else is doing.
Teamwork is a little harder when the team isn’t co-located with each other, so the more you can foster connection the better.
Encourage self-care and the establishment of regular “office hours”
Many workers, while they may enjoy certain aspects of working from home, may also become overwhelmed. Particularly those who have small children, since they’re unlikely to be able to find care at the moment.
Therefore, encourage them to take breaks. This helps employees come back refreshed. It also allows them to spend time with loved ones, which may help them feel less overwhelmed. Support exercise, nutrition and sleep as best you can without adding to the concerns that employees are already feeling.
Managers need to be more visibly available than usual to provide support and handle questions that come up in this new environment. Setting virtual office hours lets everyone know when they’re available for help, and they can also use the messaging apps so that employees know they’re ready to help.
Remind employees to dress for work
Having them sit down at a dedicated workspace in the clothes they would normally wear to the office helps maintain normalcy, so you should promote business casual even at home. People tend to be more productive in work clothes than when they wear sweats or PJs. Plus, they’re already dressed if a client or colleagues asks for a video call.
Team building that’s not about work
In the office, managers typically create some space for their employees to discuss hobbies, the news, and other topics. It helps everyone bond and also relieves some of the work-related stress that tends to build up. Just because your employees aren’t in the office at the moment doesn’t mean that you can ignore team-building and the strengthening of relationships.
You might consider leaving a few minutes open either before or after a video call to give everyone a chance to catch up. Or host a virtual happy hour occasionally after work or some other online team-building experience. It’s a great time to be creative and help employees feel like they’re part of a team that cares about them.
Tailor internal communications
You might be surprised to find that 62% of employee emails aren’t important. Do your part to reduce the amount of emails you send them. Segmenting your internal audience for a marketing or communication campaign, just as you normally do for external communications, can help reduce email overload.
Give workers the right information that they need, without too much bulk from irrelevant data. Understand what they like and what’s actually important for them to know. Make sure your messages are mobile-friendly so your employees can access them no matter what device they’re using.
Mutually set expectations
You and your workers are dealing with an unforeseen pandemic, which means that both employee and employer are venturing into unknown territory. Setting expectations accordingly will help you both feel more comfortable while they’re working from home. This helps avoid stress and disagreements, which will make an already overwhelming situation worse.
Decide what is acceptable and what is unacceptable on both your parts. For example, the employee is expected to attend the daily huddle at a specific time in the morning.
In turn, you will not spring an unannounced video call on your employees. They’ll have the time as they may need to make child-care arrangements or resolve some other issue before turning on the video chat.
You may want to institute time-tracking and communication policies as well. Having these determined ahead of time will help everyone work together more smoothly.
Is the work-from-home setup making you concerned about your finances? Feel free to give us a call at 619.255.9554 or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you.
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