No one wakes up in the morning excited to come to work because there’s a pool table in the kitchen (ok maybe a little bit). It’s a ‘nice to have’, but if it was taken away tomorrow, (let’s just say due to a global pandemic instructing that each and every person stay at home for the greater good) then your employees should still be motivated about what they’re doing.
We come to work to get paid, money is a very popular extrinsic motivation for work but it’s not enough. So, let’s think about intrinsic motivation – people need to feel they’re valued and as humans, we naturally want to grow, learn and make a difference. But we’re also naturally social beings and motivated by those around us, so when a large part of our social interactions at work have been removed, how do we keep our teams motivated and engaged?
More face time – Team check ins, client status calls, project stand ups, one-to-ones… all encouraged to take place with the camera ON. 93% of communication is non-verbal so it’s important to be able to pick up on different cues and how people are feeling, as well as see our teams’ faces!
Town Calls – Every week we all gather for a ‘Town Hall’ meeting, where we cover company and employee updates as well as a guest speaker from within the company talking on a topic of choice; anything from a new piece of work that we’ve won, to the latest tech our development team are working on. These remain very much in place, the only difference being that now everyone dials in rather than just our US team and those who happen to be working from home on the day. Although we can’t offer a fridge of beers in the same way, it’s a good chance for us all to raid our own fridges and see the wider company together; especially as there are now people that we see and speak to less, just by virtue of not physically seeing one another in the office.
According to Dan Pinks Ted Talk, one of the three things that you need to focus on to sustain employee motivation at any time – during crisis or normality – is Purpose – being part of something bigger. Keeping this sense of normality with our weekly Town Halls/Calls helps remind us of our wider company purpose and connection to one another. Plus, the addition of our ‘Good News’ round-up helps bring some positivity and motivation to take action and do good in this chaotic time for our colleagues, families and clients.
Encouraging development and sharing resources – Making sure that we are challenged is part of staying motivated so we’ve been sharing ways to continually develop our skills through resources such as General Assembly, and setting internal brainstorming sessions to ideate on behalf of our clients with wider teams than might have traditionally been involved. Research suggests that encouraging a growth mindset is important for overall motivation and even more so at the moment.
Socials and water cooler moments – Our monthly book club has, unsurprisingly, grown in numbers since full time working from home commenced and games night has transitioned to an online gathering, with favourites such as Pictionary and Cards against Humanity! Adhoc drinks after work at the ‘pub’? We’ve got that covered too with a virtual Teams channel for a drink and chat any day after 5:30pm – it’s so important to find new ways keep up team morale and ways of bonding during this time.
Wikipedia defines the ‘watercooler effect’ as “a phenomenon, occurring when employees at a workplace gather around the office water cooler and chat.” This is encouraged virtually through Teams channels where we share things we’ve seen that others in the company may enjoy or something we want to spark further conversation.
Overall, motivating a remote workforce in such unprecedented times throws out many new challenges, here are three things we’ve learnt:
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