How to motivate employees working from home

A man working from home with a set of headphones on

Operating in a highly digital world means that more employees are working from home than ever before. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of people had started to work remotely thanks to the functionality that the internet and the cloud offered.

Now, many people can work entirely from home, with no real need to go into the office (except for the obvious benefit of seeing colleagues in person rather than on a screen).

This style of working can have drawbacks however. Whether you have a handful of employees working remotely or all of your staff continue to work from home, you may find that it’s difficult to keep them engaged and motivated. Lack of face-to-face communication can begin to take its toll, and so there may be a need for increased motivation. But how do you do this?

Below you can find our suggestions for keeping your employees focused and motivated when they’re remote.

1. Show your appreciation

When your employees are working from home, it’s easy for them to feel isolated and disconnected from the wider company. They may even feel that it’s harder for you, as the employer, to see the good work they’re doing on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, recognising their efforts and demonstrating your appreciation can help them to feel valued and important, even outside of the office environment.

You can show your appreciation in multiple ways. It can be as simple as sending them a thank you message or acknowledging their recent achievements in a company-wide email. If you wanted to, you could offer incentives, such as an employee of the month award, or prizes for those that meet their targets, like an extra day of annual leave.

2. Maintain communication

While working remotely can offer so many benefits for your business and your employees, one of the problems that can arise is lack of communication.

Although the technology is there for video calls and instant messaging, it can be more difficult to keep in touch with other people when you’re all operating in different locations. It’s no longer as simple as going to someone’s desk or workstation and asking how their weekend was. This means you may have to work harder at keeping in touch.

Setting up a regular video call can be a great way of staying in contact with your team. This could be on a Monday morning to catch up with everyone after the weekend, on a Friday afternoon to see how everyone’s week has been, or both. If you haven’t already, you could also introduce discussion or ideation sessions to allow employees to discuss their current issues and ideas. This will help to keep everyone connected, and can assist with motivation.

3. Use available technology and tools

Using outdated technology or software can leave your employees feeling frustrated, and perhaps even like they can’t do their jobs efficiently. By providing the most up-to-date technology, you can help to give employees more motivation to do their job and they may be more productive as a result.

When working from home, the right communication tools are essential. For video conferencing, consider using software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet. All of these offer high-quality video and sound connections, allow you to share your screen and have a chat function, which can be useful for questions during a presentation, for example. Such communication tools allow your employees to speak to their colleagues at the click of a button and still feel like they’re part of a close-knit team, much like when they were in the office. They can speak to individuals as and when they need to, or you can organise team calls on a regular basis as a way of keeping everyone in touch with each other.

For instant communication, there is Google Hangouts and Slack. These are forms of instant messaging services that allow your employees to ping messages (not emails) to other members of staff. The systems can be efficient and seem less intrusive than sending an email or phoning a colleague.

Finally, productivity software is a must for remote workers. Again, there are various platforms available that all have pros and cons. Some examples include Trello, and Asana. They allow you to create projects and tasks that employees can update themselves when something is in progress or complete. It’s just another way for them to stay motivated and maintain efficiency when working from home.

4. Check they have the correct equipment and anti-virus software

Your staff members might lose motivation when they don’t have the right equipment for working from home, or when their equipment is difficult to use thanks to viruses and other computer infections that are slowing it down.

This is why you should try to keep on top of your employees’ pain points when it comes to their equipment, and regularly check in to ensure they have everything they need and it’s all running smoothly. You might want to encourage them to have up-to-date antivirus software that will prevent their computer from becoming infected and train them in how to look out for phishing emails and other scams that could result in a virus.

You may also wish to take out business equipment insurance to protect the company’s equipment being used by your employees at home. This should protect them if their equipment becomes damaged in any way, and will cover the costs associated with purchasing a replacement so they can get back up and running in no time.

5. Ask for employee feedback

One of the best ways to discover whether your employees are feeling unmotivated is to ask them. You could hold informal one-to-one meetings to give them a chance to talk through their concerns or worries, as well as what you are doing correctly or adequately. Alternatively, if you don’t think they’d be receptive to a meeting, you can send out anonymous feedback forms. You wouldn’t know which employees have said what, but the feedback could give you an idea of potential troubles regarding motivation and remote working.

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