Keeping remote staff connected and motivated has suddenly become a daunting challenge for many companies. Since the government called for social distancing in its bid to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, many people have found themselves working remotely for the first time ever.
In the absence of water coolers, tea breaks, meetings and end of week drinks at the local pub, we share a few top tips on how to keep a remote team motivated.
Acknowledge the situation
It’s more important than ever to be human and acknowledge that we’re living in difficult and uncertain times. For many, if not all, the situation will lead to stress and anxiety. As a business leader, striking the right balance between commercial awareness and empathy becomes even more important. Mental health charity, SANE, has said that the number of calls to its mental health helpline have risen dramatically since the COVID-19 outbreak began, with 80% of people citing worries over COVID-19.
As a solution, the marketplace for mental health apps is booming. Most are becoming more refined in their effectiveness. Many, such as Headspace and Simple Habit have opened up their memberships to non-paying customers to combat the anxiety caused by the crisis. Make sure your staff are aware that these services and encourage uptake where possible. But although helpful, these services alone are not a substitute for human contact and interaction.
Make sure that despite the distance, you maintain regular updates and interactions. That contact could come in the form of a newsletter, update email or a simple phonecall. If your company is experiencing particularly difficult financial challenges due to the crisis, it is essential that any countermeasures you put in place are communicated effectively and sensitively to your staff, alongside appropriate reassurances.
Being a tech PR agency, we were always going to bang the drum for technology. If there are positives to come from the current situation, it’s that we’ll all become truly appreciative (and often astounded) by the power of the tech at our disposal. Now is the time to go above and beyond an audio call. Video conferences are the closest replication of face-to-face contact, and are proven to boost endorphins and reduce loneliness. Your team could feel more connected and motivated as a result.
If staring back at your own face or surroundings feels a bit lacklustre why not take advantage of some of the fun features offered by the likes of Zoom, Hangouts or Skype? Always wanted to have a meeting on the beach or in space? With Zoom’s virtual background, now is your chance to do so.
It’s not just video conferencing that can unite us. Like most offices, Missive enjoys a cracking playlist, and we’ve continued to curate playlists on Spotify for everyone to listen to, together, remotely. Enable your staff to still take control of the office stereo in order to draw people together.
Fill the calendar
With multiple countries now entering periods of lockdown, almost everyone has had their immediate plans cancelled. There is little distinction between the working week and the weekend. That doesn’t mean that all social lives have to be put on hold. Make sure that there’s time in the calendar for you and your team to down tools. Prioritise time to come together over Zoom, Hangouts or even the Houseparty app. Be creative! Host pub quizzes, recreate MTV’s hit show Cribs, or just ask everyone to bring a beverage. This is a great way to get people excited for the weeks ahead.
An active team will always be more productive and motivated. Exercising in the confines of a home can be difficult, but not impossible. Encourage your team towards personal workout classes on YouTube, which are rightfully having a surge in popularity. For those that prefer to exercise outdoors, apps like Runkeeper are a great way to create groups and spur each other on.
This could prove to be the best opportunity the nation has had. We now have the time and space to pick up the new skills, languages and qualifications we’ve always wished for. With conferences and training courses cancelled, it’s paramount to find creative ways for your team to stay on top of their field. Online learning platform Udacity is offering 40 different nanodegree programmes for free. Coursera has expanded its offering too. If staff find themselves with more capacity, making these resources accessible is a great way to fend off boredom and keep people motivated.
This doesn’t have to be work-based skills either; set a date for a remote talent show, and ask everyone to show off a new skill they’ve been working on for some light-hearted respite. The more staff vocalise what they’ve achieved, the more inspired their colleagues and co-workers will feel.
Share your experiences
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, remember that we’re all in this together. No single person has experienced a similar situation to this before. A problem shared is a problem halved. Creating an open dialogue in which people can share their unique experiences (positive or negative) will create a sense of cohesion and unity.
Encourage teams to share a set up of their remote office, like we have above – it can go a long way in boosting morale in testing times.
If your tech business needs some free advice or support on how to keep a remote team motivated, please get in touch here or via firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team of external, internal and digital comms professionals are here to help and will do whatever we can.