Are you one of the many businesses now operating with employees working remotely from home for the first time? If so, you may have been surprised at just how easily it all happened and how quickly they adapted to it. But in week one homeworking was novel, fun even. Now, with many of us in Week five or six there are signs that the honeymoon is over and reality is biting and biting hard.
Here are five key ways you can help maintain the morale of your workers now operating form home :
# Keep communication strong – if in doubt it’s better to err on the side of too much communication rather than too little in the early days of managing homeworkers remotely. Copper fasten time with each homeworker by scheduling weekly 1-2-1 meetings as well as all staff meetings to keep everyone up-to-date. In these early days of homeworking it’s wise to remind staff that although the method of working has changed expectations of productivity have not.
# Recognition – the importance of recognition for home workers cannot be overstated. Out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind. Remember for any type of employee recognition is a key driver – ignore it at your peril. Small gifts from online delivery market places focused on the homeworker’s workspace could work well as thank yous for strong performance but don’t forget the power of direct contact and a personal message delivered personally over the phone.
# Measure output not activity – yes you can install software that tracks time spent at a laptop or PC but it’s far better to manage homeworkers by focusing on output and performance rather than activity. Always remember that for homeworking to succeed there has to be a minimum level of trust between the two parties;
# Out of work activities – isolation remains one of the biggest challenges to business leaders looking to maintain the morale of homeworkers. This can be addressed by giving employees access to online chat facilities or by planning into the weekly schedule online catch-ups or virtual lunches to facilitate the social contact that is so important to many employees. You may want to introduce individual or team games that can be played online either simultaneously or at different times such as fantasy football or virtual stock market trading.
# Time and boundary management – most homeworkers will have designated working hours and this should be respected by everyone. Last minute requests for urgent work that will drive them outside of their standard hours should be avoided. So too should the random business idea hastily dispatched during their leisure time which could be communicated with equal effect at the beginning of the working week. Quality downtime is essential for all workers where they can be free from the influence of social media, online and business messages dropping in by email or text.
Barry Phillips and Jayne Gallagher are authors of “Mastering Small Business Employee Engagement – 30 Quick Wins and HR Hacks” (2020) which is due out this month and contains a special section on engagement in light of the Coronavirus. See here https://bit.ly/MasteringEmployeeEngagement