Before COVID-19 threw the earth off its axis, remote working was a luxury only 7% of workers could enjoy.
Most were white-collar workers with finance and IT backgrounds. Today, it’s estimated that 77% of UK workers are working from home due to the pandemic, and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Location independence was a growing trend long before the COVID-19 crisis.
It decreases business overheads, improves productivity, and boosts employee morale. Study after study hails the benefits, but some employers have resisted remote workspaces for one simple reason: mistrust.
The pandemic has forced late adopters to find out how trustworthy their employees are in practice: one workday at a time. And they’ve discovered that remote workers are:
That doesn’t make location independence a silver bullet, unfortunately. Studies show that remote productivity levels only climb if employee morale is high, and drive is no guarantee.
Businesses that want to move into the new year with smaller officers and a larger work-from-home base will need to find new ways to incite enthusiasm, positive employee morale, increasing employee engagement and discipline.
That can seem well-nigh impossible without morning chats and weekend team-building exercises, but all it takes is a little lateral thinking.
Overcoming the challenges of self-motivation
Remote working takes a little getting used to. Solitude, family distractions, and lack of discipline can all carve chips out of a perfect eight-hour day. Add COVID-19 panic and unsettled employees, and you have a potential white-collar disaster and low employee morale.
40% of the UK workforce say that the pandemic has affected their work, and 20% are having difficulties overcoming the challenges of location independence.
The change is affecting management, too, with C-suite executives and other leaders finding themselves with two to six hours of extra time in their days. The hours they once spent on commuting and managing the office are now empty.
However, not all of the effects are negative. Meetings have become more streamlined, and for some, creative workers are delivering more inspired work than they ever did before. The IT industry has famously led the pack in terms of revolutionising office trends, and they’re doing the same today.
For example, MyZone is relying on virtual team building to keep smiles on their employees’ faces and help them to overcome the emotional challenges of a post-COVID life.
They’ve created a murder mystery team building activity and mandated similar exercises through their own shared screen software.
It turns out that the best employee morale booster isn’t necessarily the most revolutionary one. Sometimes, an old fashioned quiz game works perfectly well.
Team communication software lets you host a shared playlist, photograph contest, or self-care hour.
You might also want to try:
- A virtual coffee team meeting each morning before work to create structure and add oomph to the workday.
- A lunch hour yoga session: Get your workers moving while checking in for lunch.
- Virtual quizzes and weekend drinks: You can still meet for festive after-work activities virtually.
- Old-fashioned board games are perfect for staff who feel unsupported.
- Lateral thinking questions are the perfect way to coax your team into thinking more creatively.
- Video calls will make weekly work meetings or weekend movie nights far more sociable.
The importance of effective communication
Team building exercises are pointless if virtual office communication isn’t flowing. Adjusting to home office connections takes a little work, and managers need to be more intentional than ever before. Staff need as much guidance as before, so leaders must find new ways to keep channels open.
That entails mentorship as much as it does leadership. Personal interest is one of the most effective staff morale boosters available today, and the current crisis makes it more critical than ever before.
Office leaders must be available to lead their teams through the crisis on an emotional level. Openness, honesty, and transparency can orient employees and provide much-needed strength. This is not the time to gloss over the truth. A lack of honesty breeds fear.
Distrust goes both ways, and leaders must earn their staff’s confidence. This is the perfect time to teach employees about self-care. Speak openly about the work your employees are worried about and lead by example.
Avoiding digital saturation
With technology dominating remote work life, digital saturation follows closely behind. Workers can only fit so much technology into their work days. Content consumption has its limits, and technology fatigue can bring its own challenges.
Gartner found that 41% of remote workers don’t feel connected to their colleagues, and 26% felt more isolated.The remote work industry already has a range of collaboration software that allows staff to easily share documents along a work timeline.
There are several other staff morale boosters to discover through screen sharing: Apps like Slack will break projects up into smaller parts and help staff to work together on the same documents.
Find the right tool to help you
With the right software, your teams can work on concepts and ideas together. Remote desktop software also lets staff collaborate on big projects that are easily overseen by management. The world is in disarray, relying on digital tools at a time when human needs are at their highest. The best way to overcome is still flesh-and-blood kindness and mentorship.
Digital tools should thus be used to channel, and not replace, professional relationships. Human relations still make the world go around, even in a white-collar world.