The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us many things, and one of them is what exactly is a remote working system. While the concept of remote work existed before and was employed by very few organisations to ensure a flexible lifestyle for the employees, it took organisations across the world a pandemic to widely accept the concept of work from home to keep the business running.
Working-from-home has now become a suitable option for many employees and employers as they can sit in the comfort of their home, spend time with their families and achieve professional goals at the same time. Other popular reasons why remote working setup is gaining traction are good work-life balance, employee satisfaction, absence of commuting, increased productivity, etc.
While some have accepted the concept wholeheartedly, many still have to approve of this system and get accustomed to it. The system has already stultified many and is no longer an exciting option, and now they want a change. Many employees working from home still wish to go back to their cubicles and work in an ambience that gives them the feeling of working in an office space. Many are rooting for a hybrid-model, where employees can go to the office for 3-4 days in a week, but implementing it is still a distant dream. But the question is, what will be the employer’s plan of action until a probable solution is found? What should they do to motivate and engage employees to keep the business running and improve work-life balance?
As the transition from work-from-office to work-from-home happened out of the blue, employees had no choice to vote for or against it but accept it. This is what makes the shift more challenging for many. In remote working setup, face-to-face team discussions or group meetings are not possible; this often leads employees to feel detached from the company, which can further affect productivity and performance. Employers struggle with ways to engage employees and make them feel connected. With more employees working from home, it often leads to prolonged working hours, health issues, stress and demotivation. This is when employers must look for virtual engagement activities or work from home engagement ideas to engage employees and keep them motivated.
How would employees feel when they work very hard for a project, and the client commends the organisation for it, but the management does not show any appreciation for all the efforts put into it? Disheartened, demotivated, dispirited, demoralised are some of the feelings that they would experience. Every employee would expect their employers to recognise their efforts and appreciate them for their contribution.
Recognition plays an integral part in an organisation’s success. This boosts the confidence of employees and pushes them to act more effectively. Recognition and rewards must go hand in hand in an organisation. Recognise the efforts that your employees are putting into and reward them for the same. Rewards do not necessarily mean something monetary; a little appreciation can boost employees’ motivation to a great extent and encourage them to give their best. Hold virtual meetings to recognise the efforts and reward the employees for the same. This can prove to be an effective way to engage employees.
The digital era has made things easier than people can even imagine. Prepare an appreciation post and send it to the employees for their outstanding work personally or post it in groups to show that the organisation always values hard-working and efficient employees, no matter where they are working from. You can hand them gift vouchers, give incentives, certificates, awards, or even a subscription to an OTT platform (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+Hotstar etc.). This is a great idea to engage employees and keep them motivated. It also encourages the other employees to look forward to something. After all, who does not like little extra perks.
While work from home has become the norm, to motivate and engage employees is easier said than done. The transition from a regular 9 to 5 job to work from home can affect internal communication. To ensure the company’s smooth running, the organisations must engage employees working from home in team-building or collaborative activities.
Create group tasks and engagement activities for employees to interact with team members and remain connected. Organising team activities like quizzes, games are other ways to engage employees in different tasks. Arranging informal calls to find out what plans your employees have for the weekend, or planning a surprise group call to wish the employees on their birthdays or work anniversaries, or finding out if they can maintain a work-life balance while working from home etc., are some actions that organisations can take as employee engagement initiatives. Such engagement activities give the employees a sense of belonging, positively affecting their attitude towards work.
Adjusting to the new normal is still an uphill battle for many. While some have smoothly slipped into the new transition, some are still trying to cope with it. In such circumstances, long working hours, virtual meetings, deadlines, and distractions in the house take a toll on many. As a responsible manager, you must ensure that your employees are coping with the new system well. An employee with a sound mind and body will yield better productivity than a demoralised and ailing employee.
Thus, to ensure that the impact of isolation, remote work, and staying indoors for long hours is minimised, you must adapt ways to engage employees in several virtual employee engagement activities. The reduction in physical activities during the pandemic can affect employees’ physical well-being. This why organisations must take up employees’ health and wellness solemnly and continuously strive to engage employees in different activities. After all, the success of the organisation is dependent on the employees’ productivity.
Organise wellness programmes that will benefit the employees and help them keep healthy. You can even organise counselling sessions to ensure that the shift and lack of face-to-face communication are not asserting any pressure on them mentally. This could prove to be another constructive approach to engage employees. Go the extra mile and provide health insurance offers that cover even coronavirus. This will also portray that the company is thoughtful and cares about its employees.
Communication is the key to any business or relationship. Effective communication can clear misunderstandings or miscommunication and set the path for trust and camaraderie amongst employees. With employees working remotely, communication has become a challenge. In such circumstances, the employer must ensure that constant communication is taking place. Regular meetings and conferences provide opportunities for sharing knowledge and information. It can also convey how goals have changed in such trying times and how they can achieve their redefined goals.
If you have employees in different time zones in your organisation, do not leave them out of important meetings and decisions; keep them informed. Provide the scope for employees to share their perspectives and let them know that their opinions matter. You can even have water cooler conversations with the employees once a week to keep them engaged and make them feel connected. As a manager or a responsible organisation, you can engage employees through effective communication and notice its positive impact on work.
In the absence of physical, face-to-face conversation, misunderstandings often occur during conversations over text and chats. While some may find the tone of a senior or colleague authoritative, some may find the tone arrogant. As communication plays a vital role in remote working setup, therefore, try to connect over a phone call or video call to maintain effective communication.
Time Management is one issue that employees suffered from even before work from home became a norm. With work from home gaining momentum, it has saved the time spent on commuting and has presented an opportunity to learn more and be more productive. However, for many remote employees, managing time effectively has become a challenge in this setup. Working from home also involves work for home. In their struggle to balance household chores and office work, work-life balance goes for a toss for many employees.
This is where the management can play an instrumental role. Hold conversations or conferences with the struggling employees and help them out with tips. Engage employees through training on effective time management. An employee with good time management skills will only add value to your organisation. When you help them manage their time, it shows that you care for them and are willing to help them succeed in life.
To conclude, we can say that as much as it is an employee’s responsibility to stay productive in a work from home setup, it is equally crucial for the employer to boost employee morale and motivation and engage employees in various fun employment engagement activities. As every organisation is dependent on its employees’ productivity and performance, it must ensure employee satisfaction and involvement. It must explore ways to engage employees and find out how to measure employee engagement. Remote employee engagement activities also break the monotony of working one’s finger to the bones and engage in fun activities. Involving employees in engaging activities will ensure enhanced productivity and efficiency.
Remote working is here to stay; hence employers and employees must explore ways to engage employees, keep their spirits high and meet professional goals efficiently. While technology has provided solutions for many problems, helping overcome technical and geographical barriers, the rest needs to be done by people. Employees must try their best to achieve the organisation’s goals while the organisation must try to make the remote workspace comfortable, fruitful and engaging. Only through collective measures and effort can a business run smoothly and flourish.