Today’s workforce is majorly working remotely, and this position is unlikely to change very soon. Remote working gained momentum due to the pandemic and has gradually become the preferred model. Some institutions are also trying a hybrid working style, blending offsite and on-site working, to cope better with the uncertainties. Whatever be the choice, completely remote or blended, HR verticals of all institutions are grappling with the challenge of keeping their remote workers motivated and engaged.
Remote workers face many challenges that make it imperative for motivation interventions. Some reasons that employee motivation and engagement flags during remote working are:
In an office, on-site working, supervisors, and peers are visible and readily available to address employee concerns and resolve problems. In remote working, the worker feels distant and unconnected. The absence of face-to-face interactions and reduced access leads to a sense of isolation, of being left alone to fend for them. Since reaching out appears difficult, the remote worker feels disengaged and unmotivated.
Social interaction goes for a toss in remote working. Building networks and personal connections are a great way to be connected and share ideas. Mutually beneficial relationships are healthy and supportive. Remote workers miss out on this, creating ennui and disenchantment.
Working together as a team or set of employees commonly identified as part of an institution creates a sense of belonging. Working in isolation destroys this sense of oneness and belonging. Identifying oneself with a particular office is a social badge and motivator lost when working from home.
Coffee break chats or water cooler interactions provide open and informal communication opportunities. Such informal information channels are not available in remote working. Informal talks, including office gossip and grapevine chit-chat, bring in the fun element. For the remote worker, most communication is restricted to formal discussions over emails or messages, which becomes tedious and uninteresting.
In an on-site office setting, workers are focused on their work during office hours. There are formal rules, controls, and supervision, including unwritten cultural norms that are abided by. Such drivers are absent in a remote, work from home environment. Distractions and diversions are rampant, which impact the remote worker's productivity and efficiency.
HR managers can proactively apply several technological and social tools to overcome the above and similar challenges arising out of remote working compulsions. These are efforts that essentially seek to instill belongingness in the remote worker through communication and team-building actions.
Here are 10 such motivating and engaging methods:
Open communication is the best way to stay connected. Remote workers must have the option to converse in any manner on any issue at any time. Digital solutions that enable this must be adopted. Listening with empathy is crucial. Beyond official channels, HR may consider establishing special helplines, dedicated teams to facilitate employees to communicate their concerns.
Communicating often is the mantra. Establish schedules for regular and frequent check-ins. Communication platforms like Slack, Hangout, etc., may be used for informal conversations. Streamline information flows for clear and complete information. The employee should not feel that he is missing something. Such communications should be at the individual level using open-ended questions, empathetic listening, and two-way dialogues. Important company events and information must be shared with all.
Company events and individual/team achievements should be celebrated together. All workers must feel part and parcel of the bigger whole. Rewards and recognition should be publicly acknowledged to motivate the individual and send a message to other employees that the company values their contributions. Effective recognition is a great motivator. Personal events like birthdays, anniversaries can be held virtually amongst small groups and teams in the presence of their direct reports and immediate superiors. Collective participation along with emotional support builds bonds and a sense of oneness.
Ensure that the employees have the entire wherewithal and support to work independently. It includes but is not limited to technology, software and hardware, and associated paraphernalia to attend teleconferences, video chats, Zoom meetings, etc. Skilling and Upskilling, training needs, access to learning for personal growth, development opportunities, and similar HR actions and resources should be provided.
Provide flexibility to the remote workers by focusing on the result rather than the time and process. It will build trust and loyalty. Micromanaging and close monitoring takes away the independence of the remote employee and discourage decision-making. An auto-motivated worker is self-confident; overseeing and monitoring every aspect dilutes this, making the worker feel that he cannot be trusted to complete the given task. Motivation comes from having the comfort of resources; support being available in case of need but allowing the worker the freedom to make the appropriate choices to accomplish the allotted task.
Remote workers who do not see a clear path towards tasks and objectives will flounder to achieve targets and wonder whether they are doing things rightly. It is demotivating. Goals, objectives, and targets must be laid out, and expectations conveyed categorically. Any doubts must be cleared. Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals is a good way to motivate remote employees to have a clear direction. Achieving SMART goals is satisfying, and for occasional shortcomings, the worker is aware of where he could have done wrong. The absence of ambiguity will create healthy relationships and better chances of success.
Employee feedback is an important HR tool to gauge employee temperament and perception of various work-related activities. While open interaction is a means of getting honest feedback, it is necessary to formalize this as a laid down mechanism. Additionally, it is of utmost importance to make it a two-way process. The feedback that does not evoke a response or gets inadvertently ignored is harmful to the enterprise. It not only loses out on good ideas and possibilities of improvement, but it also loses the employee's interest in contributing to the institution. Encouraging feedback helps in employee motivation giving them a sense of being valuable members.
Progressive enterprises go beyond the work. A strong way to motivate remote employees is to take an interest in their personal growth. Opportunities to learn new skills and techniques, talent enhancement, upgrading knowledge which may be only indirectly associated with the work, should be provided and learning incentivized.
Individuals are multidimensional with varied emotions, skill sets, and needs. Employees must not be seen as mere workers but as human beings. A holistic approach covering various aspects of the worker's personality will motivate him to be loyal to the enterprise.
Technology is a great support in making employees efficient and productive. HR must invest in technology that makes collaboration and participation convenient. Many digital tools which have excellent user experience can help an enterprise create communities and help the workers and the organization to stay connected. Leverage technology tools to keep the workers' motivation levels high.
Since technology can form the backbone of HR interventions, it is always a good choice to get the best system in place. Gyrus Systems has the necessary know-how and the training and learning management systems that can make your remote workforce truly engaged and motivated. Do try our services and call for a demo.