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|Keep calm and carry on working (remotely)|
|Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 12:37:15 PM|
How can employees stay motivated and productive while teleworking during the COVID-19 crisis?
As more of the world’s population than ever before take their equipment home to begin working remotely, the challenge is for team leaders to ensure their team members remain productive, motivated and engaged, and avoid the issues of isolation.
Last year, Buffer, a company specializing in social media content, surveyed 2,500 remote workers on the benefits and challenges associated with teleworking. The number one challenge, at 22%, was the ability to unplug after work. While appreciating this statistic, I suspect many office-bound workers who regularly take laptops home probably suffer from this issue as well. Number two on the list, at 19%, was loneliness, closely followed by collaboration and/or communication at 17%.
As a remote worker myself, I appreciate the challenges, and I am now sharing my home-office with my wife. She has only worked remotely on the odd occasion and is definitely a victim of being unable to unplug even in normal circumstances. Working on two separate campuses – sometimes being on both in the same day – means she is fully equipped as a mobile worker and her laptop does come home every night where round two of her work typically starts. In the current situation, though, monitors and keyboards have come home too!
I am now experiencing sharing my remote home office; apart from the very noisy keyboard that is being used behind me to thump out emails, it’s a highly interesting time. I am hearing the challenges of my wife’s other team members, one of whom is struggling with childcare, another not having connectivity and many others with the kinds of issues one might expect.
There is, however, a team spirit that I can hear, and a great example of this is that one of her colleague’s children has a birthday tomorrow; as we are in a lockdown zone with only essential travel permitted, the party has been called off. Good initiative and technology means there is a virtual singing of happy birthday being scheduled over the organization’s video conferencing system and all the children who would have attended are invited. It is acts like these that will keep the motivation and spirits of employees high, and high spirits should lead to greater productivity.
The normal solitude I experience can be challenging, and those of you who know me will attest that I sometimes disappear to the local library or coffee shop to work, just to enjoy other people being in the same location. Experience has given me strategies to deal with the challenges; unfortunately in this scenario though the library and coffee shop are closed. The other element that is challenging, and is compounded in my situation by time-zone differences: when you achieve something great, there is no colleague to turn to and share the moment with. Those of you who know me will read this and laugh as I sometimes call people for no reason other than to share something that’s important to me, already knowing that they are not really interested.
Creating the right environment for those who may be first-time remote workers is extremely important for the employees’ welfare and company productivity. I suggest having a strategy and I recommend you consider:
As an experienced remote worker, if asked for the most important recommendation, it would be to have a routine and continually (maybe even over-) communicate with colleagues. The task at the top of my own list is to acquire a less noisy keyboard for my wife!