With such a significant shift in working practices due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, remote working could be here to stay indefinitely.
Employees have embraced remote working in a way that we could not have predicted at the start of the year. Almost half of the UK workforce were instructed to work from home overnight, organisations made it happen, and it has been an overwhelming success.
Large tech companies were the pioneers, including Facebook and LinkedIn. Also, Twitter announced that employees could work from home forever, a move backed by the company’s European Vice-President and business author Bruce Daisley.
He told BBCs Radio 4 recently “I was chatting to someone who works at a major media outlet last week, and he said we used to have 1,400 people coming into this office every day. For the last eight weeks, we’ve had 30 people, and the product hasn’t changed.”
He said “Anyone who thinks things are going to go back to the way things were is bananas.”
Though the technology field might be considered as a different sector, the same conclusions are being drawn by many organisations across the UK.
What does this move away from the traditional ways of working we’re familiar with, mean for leaders?
Team structure and dynamics have changed, and leaders must now evolve to motivate their teams remotely – not an easy task if you’re unfamiliar with the territory.
In today’s article, I share three ways leaders can motivate their virtual teams in our ‘new normal’.
1. Take Advantage of Video Conferencing
The first way to motivate your virtual teams is to make video conferencing a part of your daily life.
During the switch from office-based to home working, leaders realised the importance of video conferencing; a recent Gigaom survey found that 87% of remote employees felt more connected to their team when using video conferencing.
But to help keep employees motivated while working from home, video calls should not be viewed as a remote working novelty, but rather a core tenet of your team’s company culture.
Using video calls is essential to keep the social interactions which are necessary to every company culture, alive and well.
Some leaders believe that they’re ‘too busy’ to participate in regular video calls with employees, and of course, depending on the size of your organisation, this could be the case.
Yet leaders who participate in regular video calls will see better results than those who don’t.
Your goal as a leader is to get your team to feel connected and working as a cohesive whole – communication is essential to this, and in the absence of face-to-face contact, video calling is the next best thing.
2. Give Teams Autonomy
As we can see from the latest data, remote working works. A recent study by Fluent Pulse on COVID and home working found that nearly 60% of employees are happy with remote working arrangements and wish to continue.
Leaders can take advantage of this and allow employees who are working from home effectively to continue to do so, as this will increase morale and productivity.
A common concern about remote working pre-COVID was that it would lead to a decrease in productivity, but this has shown to be an unfounded fear. A California data company found an increase in productivity of up to 47% during the lockdown – have you found something similar among your team?
Giving your team autonomy over their working arrangement is a natural way to help motivate them. Happy workers are up to 20% more productive, and if working from home works for them and you, allowing this to continue will increase motivation in your team.
3. Increase Coaching and Feedback
It was Maya Angelou who said,
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This observation is a great way to think about your leadership strategy.
Your aim should always be to inspire your team, to help them grow and be the best version of themselves.
Where other leaders are delegating tasks to their virtual teams, you should be finding out how you can match employees to the jobs that will help them thrive. A coaching mindset means that you always value the person first to help them achieve their goals.
Take the extra time to coach newly-remote employees and increase your feedback to help them feel valued and not forgotten about – which can be typical within remote teams.
A few weeks ago, an acquaintance told me that in one organisation she was aware of, management had not been in touch with their employees via video or phone since the beginning of lockdown, going on for almost ten weeks. Employees in this company largely felt abandoned, and you can only imagine what this has done for team morale.
Remote employees should be remote in distance only. With extra employees working from home, now is the time to increase your communication with your team, using all of the mediums available – video, phone calls, messaging apps and email. The goal is not to bombard your employees with messages, but to ensure they feel supported in any new challenges they might be facing.
Creating success in your newly-remote team is a pertinent topic and one which we have plenty of resources available for.
If you are new to managing a remote team and would like extra support, head to our blog where you will find a range of leadership articles, or click here to learn more about the leadership programmes we lead.
Until next time,
Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.
Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat, call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, please email our team here.