Feature Articles, Startups

Working From Home: How to Motivate & Empower Remote Staff

Employee motivation, remote employees

Motivating and encouraging employees working on a remote basis during lockdown can be difficult. Here’s everything you need to know about how to empower your employees both in the office and at home.

Employees — especially employees forced to rapidly adjust to remote work from home — are some of the hardest-hit individuals in Australia’s ongoing COVID pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. Data published by Roy Morgan indicates that over 30 percent of all Australians have shifted to working from home over the last year as COVID shuts down a large portion of the Australian economy.

While industries such as retail, agriculture, and supply chain have retained over 85 percent of all workers in active roles, sectors such as communication, public administration, and finance have shifted primarily to remote work — over 58 percent of all finance and insurance professionals in Australia currently work from home.

Shifting to working from home is a significant change that, for many Australian professionals, is not always positive. The “work from home” paradigm shift has significantly reduced commute times, but holds the potential to reduce efficiency.

The core challenge presented to management when working with remote staff is control and supervision — working from home, however, holds the potential to shift employers and employees alike to an outcome-oriented methodology, rather than focus on time as a metric of effort.

The use of work from home arrangements is not always a straightforward process, and requires a high level of trust between company and employee. These factors, combined with the significant cost of employing remote staff, means that Australian companies are often reluctant to shift to work from home arrangements.

Employees shifting to a work from home position are subject to complex issues such as balancing life and work, managing children’s schooling, or navigating the complex restrictions and obstacles presented by COVID lockdowns.

Streamlining the communication between employees and employers in remote working relationships and promoting both motivation and activity can significantly increase the productivity of all parties. Here’s how you can support and motivate your employees during lockdown and into the future.

Be Generous with Recognition and Appreciation

Psychological studies investigating the influence of leadership behavior on motivating employees reveal that the primary cause of employee demotivation is insufficient appreciation or recognition. Ensuring that all employees in your startup — at all leadership levels — feel appreciated, acknowledged, and appreciated is critical when ensuring your team is working productively from home.

Lockdown restrictions may make it impossible to physically meet with your team, but the widespread availability of video conferencing tools and applications make it possible to connect personally on a weekly basis with employees to ensure they receive the leadership they need to thrive.

It’s important to take note of the isolation and social distance caused by lockdown when working with remote employees — it’s best to never assume that your team members know they are valued. Always ensure that you provide frequent and authentic recognition to your remote employees.

Retain Open Lines of Transparent Communication

Communication is critical to the success of any collaborative venture — working with remote teams based in home offices, however, can cause communication friction. Many startup founders and business leaders may believe that they are communicating effectively with their team, but in many cases communication between team members is not executed with sufficient transparency, or at a suitable frequency.

Startup founders and business leaders are responsible for defining communication frequency during lockdown periods, with a heavy emphasis on integrating long-term business goals and vision into the daily work of individual team members.

Generating profit and fostering financial strength within an organization is a single facet of scaling and growth strategy — employees and leaders alike should retain a deep understanding of how the work they perform impacts the overall health of the company they dedicate their time to.

When managing work from home staff during lockdown, it’s important to ensure that your employees are aware of the impact they have on a business and keep them up to date on both major and minor developments. Regularly publishing videos with company updates, for example, is a powerful way to remain honest and transparent with employees while maintaining consistent, reliable communication channels.

Remain Visible and Approachable

Demonstrating visibility and approachability is key when working in a decentralized office. Inaccessible or unapproachable leadership in remote work dynamics can rapidly cause mistrust, rumors, or confusion within large remote teams — it’s important to ensure that your team is aware that they are able to approach leadership members.

Providing remote team members with clearly-defined and streamlined communication channels is important — but these communication channels must be backed up by proactive feedback. Timely responses ensure your team members working from home feel as though they are able to chat with leadership members as easily as they can when working in an office.

Support Your Employees in Professional and Personal Wellbeing

Prioritizing the overall health and wellbeing of your employees can significantly improve productivity and engagement when working from home. The intersection of the home environment and work environment means that employee wellbeing extends beyond the realm of the office and into physical, emotions, financial, and relational wellbeing.

Demonstrating to your employees that you are actively engaged with their wellbeing indicates that you are equally concerned with the human elements of your business and the productivity of your business. Providing guidance to your employees on how to remain healthy, fit, active, and organized through employee assistance schemes, promoting healthy working cultures, and providing channels through which employees can gain support through lockdowns can significantly benefit your employees lives during lockdown.

Help Your Employees Plan for the Future

The unexpected economic impact of COVID lockdowns in Australia has had a significant effect on the savings and long-term financial goals of the Australian workforce. Many Australians now no longer have a financial buffer for unexpected expenses.

Providing your employees with tools and resources they can use to establish and work toward long-term goals or delivering guidance on financial support and services available during COVID-19 provided by the Australian Government will help your team overcome the daily stress of lockdowns, creating a healthy and productive remote working environment.

Key Takeaways

Managing remote employees is just one of the many complex issues that have emerged from Australia’s new remote-focused working ecosystem. Creating open lines of communication through which isolated employees are able to connect with visible, approachable leadership teams to create strategies that help them overcome obstacles presented by lockdowns will create a stronger, more productive team now and well into the future. If you are considering staying remote post-lockdown, consider the legal factors and compare remote vs. in person situations.

Remote workplaces can create complicated HR and accounting systems that can be difficult to navigate — reach out to Fullstack today for guidance on how to overcome the administrative and financial considerations for going remote.

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