Remote working has become a hotly debated topic of late. Commentators often talk about the need to keep strategy and mission front and center; of ensuring there is a structure to the working day; and of keeping channels of communication clear and open. Undoubtedly, these are all important points, but there are other factors – the nuances of motivating a dispersed workforce – that could make all the difference to how well Remote Working.
The first factor relates to the F word. That is, flexibility. Do not assume that what works for you works for everyone, or what works for most works for all. You may find that it is easier to motivate people if they have an ‘activity profile’. Perhaps someone likes to start at 6am and finish earlier; someone else has a natural slump in the afternoon and prefers to work morning and evening instead. Of course, it’s got to work for the business and support productivity first, but acknowledging activity profiles can be a great way to reward and build trust with your people – as well as getting the best out of their personal energy cycles.
As a business, AI monitoring tools allow you to offer flexibility without compromising on productivity. In fact, both are natural biproducts when it comes to AI. Monitoring solutions driven by artificial intelligence see what you can’t and log the productivity of your people, wherever the location and whatever the time of day. They can have a great motivational effect on employees too. Those of us who are competitive by nature relish nothing more than competing with colleagues and most of all, competing with ourselves. So, giving an employee a clear picture of their own productivity will maintain momentum and encourage continuous improvement over time.
Next, invest in your leaders. Someone who is a mediocre leader in the office is unlikely to transform into a great remote leader. If there are issues with their leadership style and practice these will only be exacerbated when they are managing remotely. A micro-manager will ramp up surveillance if they cannot see their staff. And a laidback manager may become a horizontal one, opting out of managing completely. Going remote is the right time to assess your leaders’ strengths and weaknesses and put in place training and strategies to establish the right expectations and support.
Remember – your leaders who are concerned about managing remotely won’t necessarily confess that concern to you, so do not leave anything to chance. Analyze what they need (with them) and put it in place. Here, AI tools that generate employee productivity scores and produce actionable leadership recommendations will go a long way in supporting and informing the work of your managers. And don’t forget, with such tools, managers themselves can keep track of their own productivity and performance along the way.
The early investments you make in bolstering leadership will trickle down to teams as they will be managed much more effectively. Motivation breeds motivation, so do not expect a driven workforce if you have unmotivated or struggling leaders. And of course, it is important to invest in the well-being of your other employees too; just because you can’t offer an on-site gym, restaurant or yoga classes doesn’t let you off the hook. With pared back offices – or no offices at all – you can afford to be creative about how you take care of your people.
And of course, no discussion of work culture would be complete without mention of meetings. In this case, remote video calls should bear the hallmarks of face-to-face meetings – minus the copious amounts of wasted time – but they should also include an element of fun. Remote work means we are all beaming into each other’s homes, which brings an atmosphere of informality, so use this to get to know each other better. A moment spent discussing the intriguing picture over someone’s shoulder or the view from a colleague’s window is all it takes. These insights into each other’s reality outside of work are invaluable in bringing out our human sides, and the more people see and experience each other, the more they are likely to bond, with great knock-on benefits for productivity.
It’s time to motivate to accumulate. Whether we like it or not, remote work is here to stay, so jump on board: rally your teams, embrace the growing array of AI-powered productivity solutions, and get creative about making working from home, work for you.