There have been benefits from the increase in homeworking but one downside has been how hard it is to keep in touch and keep everyone engaged. Ellie Wilson from Virtalent has answers
Ellie Wilson is Co-Founder of Virtalent, which provides Virtual Assistant services to busy entrepreneurs and professionals across the UK. She writes about how employers can keep teams engaged and motivated when it’s not possible to share an office, or even arrange a Christmas night out.
Well it’s official. Remote working is here to stay.
According to a recent survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD), 74% of businesses plan on permanently implementing homeworking policies after the pandemic, with more than half set to reduce their long-term use of the traditional office.
While most of us will jump for joy over this news, the remote work revolution isn’t always plain sailing. Social isolation, WFH burnout and low morale are all concerns that have been widely documented throughout the pandemic. Morale is the number one driver of productivity and engagement so its value should never be underestimated.
At Virtalent, a virtual assistant company, we know a thing or two about building team morale when you can’t all physically be in the same room. Our team of 70 VAs are scattered across the country so there’s a number of steps we take to keep our culture thriving.
Here are five crucial steps to success:
It can be easy for employees to feel disconnected from the company culture when they’re no longer sharing a space together.
The key to overcoming this is to ensure that you’re taking the time to communicate and listen. Company meetings are vital to keep everyone up to date on progress and that includes the good, the bad and the ugly news. The more transparency the better!
One to one video sessions allow employees to open up and chat through any issues that may have which is crucial to help maintain connectivity.
Celebrating each other’s successes and milestones is a fundamental part of office life, but it can slip through the cracks when remote working is involved.
Getting creative when it comes to small gestures is an easy but sure fire way of increasing motivation and raising morale. A great way to say thank you, happy birthday or congratulations is to send a little something through the letterbox to let them know you’re thinking of them.
When you can’t physically see your employees at their desks, it can be tempting to try and monitor their every move. While this might make you feel better in the short term, it can be exhausting for everyone involved and doesn’t often lead to a productive way of working.
A better approach is to trust your team from the get go. Ensure everyone is crystal clear about their responsibilities and goals and then leave them to get on with it. If problems arise, they can be discussed and managed, but you’re much more likely to get positive results when you give them the freedom to work on their own terms.
Carve out a space that lets people talk about the fun stuff. That could be a Slack channel, a weekly ‘virtual’ drinks trolley or a Monday morning coffee break on Zoom. Encourage your team to grab a drink and catch up about their weekends or their favourite Netflix shows. It’s these conversations that keep the culture of a company alive.
It can be tricky to switch off from work when the lines between office and kitchen table are so blurred.
Empower your team to make their own schedule and take time for themselves throughout the day. Create a system that lets everyone know when this is happening. When someone is taking a break, encourage them to block it out in their calendar, change their status on Slack or send a message to the team to let them know they’ll be unavailable. These boundaries will improve productivity and motivation.
Adopt these steps and you’ll soon have a happier, healthier workforce and will never look back!