There was a time, not long ago, when working from home was considered a much-coveted perk that not many had access to. According to a survey conducted in North America in 2019, only 7% of the workforce had remote work benefits. However, fast-forward to 2020 and COVID-19, things turned upside down across the world, making remote work the new normal.
Stanford Economist Nicholas Bloom said a whopping 44% of the workforce now work from home, a significant surge from 7% only under a year earlier. As we already know, there are many advantages to working from home for employers AND employees alike. The biggest and undisputed pro of working from home for an employee, by far, has got to be the flexibility in schedule, that allows your teams to juggle between work and home. Other noteworthy pluses include, being able to spend time with and support our families while isolated at home, decreased stress, saving time and cost of commuting, and perhaps a little more freedom on how you work, to name a few. In fact, there has even been reports of an uptick in productivity!
Employers are certainly enjoying the increase in team’s productivity and improved employee mental health owing to the better work-life balance. Another significant benefit is the huge cost savings from eliminating office space rent, electricity and other office supplies. Some employers have also noticed that employees take fewer sick leaves.
Doesn’t this sound like the perfect dream?
It can be, if some of the common challenges are addressed effectively. Let’s look at some of the things people are struggling with, owing to extended period of remote work:
· Lack of resources
· Lack of routine
· Social isolation
· Distractions at home
Remote work is here to stay, and it can be a sustainable, win-win situation for both employers and employees if we address, and possibly do away with the downsides of it. That brings us to the question, how are you motivating, engaging and supporting your team while working remotely?
“A leader must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” – John C. Maxwell
You as a team lead can do a lot to support and strengthen your team during these trying times. We got our thoughts together and put down a few things that you can implement right away.
1. Communicate: This is now more important than ever. With lack of face-to-face interaction, it is imperative that you reach out and talk to your team every single day, and as often as you can. Check-in on them, find out what they are doing and how they are doing. Ask about what’s going well and what isn’t. Learn about their struggles and obstacles, and help alleviate them. Video calls, emails, texts, IM – there are a plethora of options at your disposal. Just talk to them and listen to them – sometimes, that makes all the difference. Always remember to keep the communication with your team flowing.
2. Set the team up for success: Working from home can be challenging and it is necessary to understand that. Work along with your team. Identify what your team requires for them to execute their tasks effectively and provide them with it.
Manage expectations so that your team knows exactly what they need do and where they need to focus. Especially now when we are all working remotely, employees might be juggling multiple roles or have taken on new responsibilities. Giving them clarity and direction in terms of what is expected will eliminate confusion and a lot of stress.
Focus on results and outcomes more than the activity itself or how it’s done. Define clear goals and results, and allow your team the freedom to work out an execution and delivery plan. This will enhance their creativity and instill a sense of ownership in them.
3. Appreciation: Team members love being appreciated and hearing good things. And, trust us, positivity works wonders! Employee appreciation directly impacts workplace happiness, mental health, job satisfaction and is a huge boost to their morale and confidence. And all of those are directly proportional to an employees’ productivity.
This is one of the easier and most often valued ways to bring out the best in your team. When you value and acknowledge your employees’ contribution, and they love you back, your road to success will be a lot smoother.
4. Lead with passion: A team is a reflection of its leadership. If you envisage your team to be a certain way, then lead by example. Be a leader that provides direction from the head AND heart. Recognise that every individual is important and essential for your organisation to be successful. Be compassionate, listen to your team members, understand what they are going through and help them where you can. In simpler words, be more of a mentor and less of a boss and watch the magic unfold.
5. Have fun: Basic rule of thumb – anything that you do, do not forget to have fun! Humans are social beings. Since remote work has removed that out of the equation, things can get quite mundane and lacklustre. Now fun need not necessarily mean those post-work Zoom gatherings that involve pizza parties, game nights and the likes. Being on video calls day in and day out is exhausting. Zoom fatigue is real for a reason. Instead, switch up your everyday meetings by having different team members lead it. Let them come up with unique ways to kickstart the meeting, that can be anything such as meditating or literally shaking it up by having everyone do a few squats or jacks. Usually, most meetings have one person doing all the talking while others are quiet and (possibly) bored. This activity will make the environment livelier, resulting in a fun, interactive and productive meeting. This will also encourage team bonding and give opportunities for team members to shine.
If there is one thing we strongly believe in – leaders are made, not born. We are all living in strange times, adapting to new ways and doing the best we can. If you are struggling with the on-going changes, let us help you. At Lead With Passion, we work with senior executives and team leaders to help navigate through changes and build high-performance teams, whether you are working remote or not.
“Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example.”