12 tips for motivating your home working staff.

Are you new to managing a team working from home?  Are you struggling to find the balance between productivity and flexibility?

This is a unique situation, even for those who are used to working from home, they don’t normally do so with the pressures of children at home, caring responsibilities, being in a lockdown situation where they might be fearing for their and their loved one’s health.

Check out our webinar and see below for some tips to help you and your staff

Do you need HR advice?

Here are some tips to help you and your staff:

  1. Objectives

What are your key objectives as a manager during this time?

  • Productivity of staff
  • Keeping staff motivated
  • Your own productivity
  • A review of working practices and efficiencies for the future
  • A smooth transition after lockdown

 

  1. Home Working Policy

A homeworking policy can set out clear rules about working from home.  Whilst these policies are designed for working from home under normal circumstances, they can be implemented in a more flexible way under the current circumstances.

  1. Home working Display Screen and furniture assessment

Many people are not accustomed to working from home and don’t have a dedicated space to work from.  In order to help make sure their computer, desk, chair and the environment is suitable for working, the HSE have a checklist that employees can go through

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.pdf

 

  1. Knowing your team and their individual situations

It is important to know your staff members and what their individual situations are.  Are they single parents with young children, do that fulfil caring responsibilities for people in or outside their houses, do they have mental health conditions that could worsen during this time?  By understanding their situations, you can make allowances in what you expect from them and how they work during this time.

 

  1. What staff struggle with most

Connectivity experts 99&One, collated the top ten challenges workers face whilst working from home, they are:

  • Missing social interaction (27 per cent)
  • Feeling the need to prove productivity (24 per cent)
  • Colleagues taking longer to respond (18 per cent)
  • Connectivity issues (17 per cent)
  • Feeling disconnected from colleagues (16 per cent)
  • Feeling out of sight, out of mind (16 per cent)
  • Feeling out the loop with what is going on across the business (15 per cent)
  • Getting distracted even more than being in the office (15 per cent)
  • Relying on technology too heavily (14 per cent)
  • Feeling isolated (12 per cent)

 

  1. Communication and setting the ground rules

Clear ground rules can not only help you to achieve your objectives, but also address the issues that staff commonly experience as described in point 5 above.

On-line meetings

  • There are different types of on-line meetings/calls you may be having
    • A first thing in the morning ‘hi is everyone ok’ type call to the whole team daily
    • Weekly team meetings (including to those on furlough leave) to give them updates on any changes to the business – eg are people being furloughed, how is the company affected, is there a likely date of returning to work, etc. Being transparent about what is happening, even if decisions have not yet been made is important because fear of the unknown can be a big demotivator.
    • Meetings with individuals or teams (not including anyone on furlough leave as they are not allowed to work) setting out the workload, making sure everyone is on board with the task, understanding their role and what is expected of them (frequency will depending on the situation and level of staff)
    • Individual meetings to check on someone’s welfare, especially if you know that their individual situation might cause them to be struggling
    • Fun meetings (including those on furlough leave) – like doing a quiz, having a coffee/drink together, just having a chat

 

A lot of the issues set out in 5 above can be addressed through establishing good communication from you as the Manager, but also across the team and upwards from team members.

Setting ground rules around dress code for formal meetings and respectful communication.  Nipping any concerns in the bud immediately is important.  Many people will feel anxious at this time and it is easy to become frustrated with each other; this not only impacts on productivity and feeling disconnected from colleagues, but once we return to normal, everyone has to work together again and damage done and not addressed at this stage will impact on the long term relationships in the business.

Encourage them to turn off facebook (unless it is part of their job to monitor/maintain it) to avoid distractions during their working hours.

Check what support they need and where additional training (eg technology) is required and look for an online solution.

Remember to show you appreciation of your team and what they are achieving.

7. Managing Poor Performance

Unfortunately, you may face situations where even though you are trying to be accommodating and understanding towards individual situations, you have an individual who just isn’t pulling their weight. This is where it is really important to performance manage and even whilst working remotely, there is a structure you can follow by having open and honest conversations privately with the individual and recording notes of each conversation.

This is the starting point to managing performance and is key to ensure you are outlining your expectations, sharing what the effects are of the shortfall and agreeing targets to improve. Usually, this approach will help individuals to get back on track, but if not, it gives you a solid footing in terms of taking things down a more formal route of discipline.

Don’t get me wrong, it is important that your overall approach is not “beating with a big stick”, but individual contribution to the whole team effort is so important at the moment and will ensure that your team members are valued by each other are in a good position to ramp up their productivity when business is returning to some kind of normality.

8. Maximising productivity in a flexible working environment

As a manager, you will probably spend a lot more time than usual setting out what you expect from each staff member and how to manage this.  This is why you need to understand the individual circumstances, so that you can work out what you can realistically expect each person to be able to achieve and also identify where home working will not work (for whatever reason) and how you are going to handle this.

Depending on what your business does, you might be able to set core hours where all of your team work, when you hold team on-line meetings and allow the team to work flexibly to achieve outcomes throughout the rest of the day.

Where you can, you should be managing outcomes rather than checking that they have worked every contractual hour.

Remember to schedule in time for you to do your own work as well.  In these unnatural circumstances it is easy to get lost in supporting everyone else only to realise that you have an enormous amount of work yourself to get through.  You need to be organised and disciplined.

9. Individual health checks

Aside from team on-line meetings, a daily call to each member of the team individually is a good way to have one to one discussions and check whether there are any concerns you need to address.

Colleagues may also be a good support system for each other where someone might be alone or struggling.  Don’t under-estimate the fear and anxiety that many people are feeling as a result of the virus, the fact that they cannot be with family and friends, and in the worst case scenario where someone in their household is ill, in hospital or has died.

Empathy and support are required and if you as the manager are not the person to be able to offer this, then recognise that in yourself and appoint someone in the company who is better suited to offer support.

If you have a Mental Health First Aider, with everyone’s permission they could give everyone a call/chat once a week (more if there are concerns) to make sure everyone is ok and to refer people to additional support if necessary.

 

10. Motivating not demotivating staff

It is very easy to get the balance wrong and to demotivate staff at a time when they might be feeling really anxious.  Finding that balance between managing a remote workforce productively and showing empathy for their individual situations is not easy.

Trusting your staff to do the job required of them goes a long way to keeping them motivated.

Supporting their need for work-life balance by not working 24-7, by using their exercise slots, by discussing how they are managing to home school and work and supporting them are all positive ways of managing at this time.

Recognising anyone who is not toeing the line and dealing with it swiftly will be appreciated by their colleagues who may feel that this is impacting them in a negative way.

Staying in touch with staff who may be on furlough leave, is also important so that they still feel part of the team and don’t feel isolated and uncared for during this period.

11. A review of working practices and efficiencies for the future

For many companies remote working, home working, will be something they have not done before.  Having been forced to do this, potentially with clients and staff, allows you to take a moment to reflect on whether some of these new practices can be adopted after lockdown.

The now common practice of on-line meetings, whilst not appropriate in all circumstances, can potentially save hours of travel time and cost in the future.

Your own management style during lock down and with staff working from home can either improve your relationship with your team or destroy it.  This might be a good opportunity for some development for yourself or others within you team, which Sagegreen HR can assist you with.

12. A smooth transition after lockdown

One of the key things to think about whilst managing a team working from home during the lockdown period is how you will transition back to office working at the end of the period.  If you have managed the team well during the home working and furlough phase, with regular communication and clear guidance and support, your team should be motivated and pleased to return to a more familiar pattern of working at the end of this.

 

If you need support with any of these areas, please contact your local Sagegreen HR Consultant whose details can be found on https://www.sagegreenhr.co.uk/local-hr-teams/

 

Do you need HR advice?