By Maria Thimothy, sr. consultant at OneIMS who helps businesses grow by creating & capturing demand & managing & nurturing relationships.
As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2022, it is very clear that where we work and how we work no longer look the way they used to. After nearly two years of working from home and then tentatively coming into the office only to have to work from home again, people are starting to feel fatigued. As restrictions lift once again, businesses are beginning to come to terms with the fact that hybrid working is probably here to stay.
Of course, this leads us to the question of how to reorient ourselves as business owners and managers in order to keep our teams feeling cohesive and motivated all while working remotely. The most important thing to remember is that while the physical office environment has moved from meeting rooms to living rooms, the core of how we run a business can and should still be the driving factor in continuing to make this new way of working functional and effective for businesses long term.
Back To Basics
You may not have considered investing in an IT upgrade for your team, but sending employees home with outdated or slow hardware, coupled with inferior communication software, is a recipe for disaster. Remote working with ease depends a lot on the IT infrastructure with which you provide your workforce, and by not having the right technology in place, both motivation and communication really suffer.
Not only does old tech slow down productivity, but it can really chip away at morale and motivation, causing people to feel demoralized and isolated in their frustration, which leads to decreased productivity that can damage your business. So don’t skimp on the appropriate upgrades in both hardware and software so that working from home is just as fast and efficient as being in the office. This way, if you have any issues with productivity or performance, you know that the company’s tech is not to blame.
Communication Is Key
The basis for all effective teams is communication. It is the way we agree on new goals and how we keep each other and ourselves accountable for deliverables. Of course, in an office environment communication takes all sorts of informal forms—people walking down the hall to have a quick chat about an issue or popping their head into someone else’s office to let them know that they’ve finished something. However, working remotely removes these opportunities to connect. This is why it is very important to have dedicated check-ins as well as regular team meetings to ensure that you have ample time for people to keep in touch.
However, as with any meeting, you have to make these opportunities to communicate meaningful. Be sure to have an agenda and hit all the points one after another. Keep the focus on hitting milestones, accountability and deliverables. Remember to also include team meetings where everyone has a chance to catch up and understand how the team as a whole is doing. This way, even if the opportunities to casually communicate are reduced, the time you do spend communicating is highly focused and effective.
Stay Goal-Oriented To Stay Motivated
The idea of “presenteeism” is very much ingrained as being one of the key ways we show our engagement and interest in work, as well as feeling that being seen helps us to get ahead, be remembered and get promoted. Being at home can make people feel as if they are being overlooked since they are not being seen working.
This is why, as a manager, it is important to continue regular performance catch-ups both formally and informally. Maintaining end-of-year performance reviews and starting the year with setting achievable targets retains a structure of merit-based promotion that helps keep people feeling motivated. When people are able to focus on deliverables to demonstrate achievements rather than presenteeism, they will feel at ease knowing that their development can still be maintained and their career goals achieved even while working remotely.
Be Open To Making Adjustments
Adapting to remote working has already been underway these past few years of the pandemic, but we have by no means “figured it all out.” There are still many different ways companies can utilize remote working to their advantage, but the most important thing is to stay open to making changes as you go. No one has the right answer as to how remote working can work for you and your business since only you can determine that. However, acknowledging that working from home is here to stay is the first step in beginning to make the transition to a new working model. Start with a solid foundation of good tech, keep lines of communication open and remember to maintain motivation through goal setting. From then on, it is all fine-tuning.