8/4/2020

Keeping Up Morale While Working Remotely

Remote work has many benefits, but also comes with unique challenges. Not everyone may be cut out for working from home or voluntarily want to. The coronavirus pandemic has created a situation where many employees have no choice at this time but to adapt to a remote work situation. It’s up to leadership to make the transition seamless.

Fortunately, successfully transitioning to remote work is possible. Regardless of whether your company's remote work program is temporary or permanent, there are ways to improve employee morale and create a functional, cohesive team — even if it’s scattered across dozens of locations. 

Developing the Right Remote System for the Team

Overseeing a team that may be working from different locations and time zones comes with logistical obstacles. Management’s main challenges are to provide the right tools to facilitate communication between the team while providing remote workers struggling with the change in their work roles the support and encouragement they need. 

Project management, communication, and video conferencing tools such as Asana, Slack, Trello, and Zoom are essential to making sure everyone at the company is on track and updated on how projects are flowing. No company works the same way and some adjustments may be required — a remote work program may be trial and error initially until the company finds the best communication and project management tools for its needs. 

Management may need to spend more time checking in with the team and listening to feedback at first to make sure things are running as intended. Although the top tools and cloud-based systems today are designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, some employees may need more time to adapt to the new remote systems than others.

As everyone in the company transitions, praise and encouragement will be needed more than ever to ensure that employees at home and behind a computer monitor don’t feel lost in their new and potentially unfamiliar roles.

Focusing on the Struggling Remote Worker

A large portion of remote workers are naturals at the change. They enjoy the expanded freedom and the chance to work from home undistracted, and at their own pace. But other workers may not feel the same way. They may have a family at home and find it difficult to get their work done with their spouses also remotely working while the kids interrupt in the background.

Making allowances for struggling remote workers could boost employee morale and improve overall team productivity. Some ways management could improve the transition for its remote teams include:

● Providing an allowance or reimbursement for workers who would like to do their remote work from a coworking space instead of from home.

● Providing a stipend for remote workers to upgrade their home internet package to faster speeds.

● Assigning a remote mentor from the company to check in regularly or work in tandem by video conference with workers who do better at tasks that involve teamwork and guidance.

Consider a Change to the Employee Benefits Package

The change to remote work may be inevitable. Many major tech companies have already announced that the pandemic-induced transition to remote work will become a permanent aspect of their company culture. The top names have adapted their employee benefits and procedures to account for remote work. 

Smaller employers can follow their lead by adapting employee benefits to reward employees for their efforts in transitioning to off-site work. Some ideas of changes your company could make to its employee benefits that the remote team could benefit from include:

Expansion Into Health and Wellness

As employees spend more time at home, the transition could be stressful. They may not go out as much as if they had to walk, ride their bike, or drive to work. Encouraging good health means fewer sick days. Offering the remote team the opportunity to workout from home by paying for yoga and workout podcasts and subscriptions could encourage them to focus on their health and wellness. Other ideas include monthly massages or spa days and gym memberships.

Computer Equipment Upgrades

Many employees may not be prepared to work from home and could be facing work from a child’s PC or having to share a computer with a spouse. Providing employees with upgraded laptops or desktops equipped with company software could improve their productivity from home.

Home Catering or Delivery Service

The company cafeteria may soon be obsolete. Management could boost employee morale by providing employees with catered lunch days at home or an allowance for food deliveries as a reward for their hard work and commitment. 

Remote Work’s Drawbacks and Benefits

There are pros and cons to remote work for both the employee and the employer. The transition could be cost-effective to employees in the form of less need for commuting; and for the employer, requiring less office space or a large headquarters can considerably cut back on company overhead. 

Working off-site is here to stay. Adapting and embracing the change now can set your company and team apart from the competition. Your company will likely weather another unexpected event such as a natural disaster or crisis with less disruption. And employees who are managed properly through the transition will thrive in the future new normal.

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