Motivating home and remote workers: key tips

When it comes to the working day, technology can be credited for driving efficiency. It has entirely changed how we work, with many businesses now actively encouraging employees to work remotely, because people are able to log in and do every day working tasks from their home, a train seat or even a café.

Motivating home and remote workers: key tips

It’s thought that more than four million people in the UK now regularly work from home, while an additional 1.8 million say they would like to work remotely, but don’t get the opportunity.

Working from home can be the ideal set up. It often saves employees time and money in commuting. It can give people the focus they need on tasks and prevents them from being interrupted by meetings. The commuter time saved may be the difference between doing the school run or a gym class or not. This can all bring benefits to the business too – if done correctly, employees will be more motivated and productive as it gives them the flexibility to work around their needs.

However, home working can also lead to issues if the culture and environment of working remotely isn’t right. In reality, employees may work longer hours because they switch on earlier, and off later and don’t take regular breaks like they would in the office. It’s also common for remote workers to feel isolated due to the lack of regular contact with their team, which can lead to a drop in motivation. It can also take a toll on their health – instead of being at a work desk someone might be on the sofa which could lead to long-term back problems.

Here are some of the ways employers can motivate their team members who frequently work remotely to ensure they are healthier, happier and more productive working from home, while also ensuring they remain an integral part of the team.

Out of sight, out of mind

It’s natural for those working remotely to feel out of the loop, despite contributing as much as they can. It can be hard to gauge the general feeling within the team just by email, and they may miss small things that are discussed around the office. Equally, it’s just as easy for people in the office to forget about keeping remote workers updated.

Put in regular calls to share updates, and if regular calls aren’t ideal, make use of the company’s instant messaging function such as Skype for those quick conversations that don’t need to go through email.

Create the right working environment

To avoid injuries, employees should be supported to set up a suitable working environment at home. This means providing guidance on the right chair and desk they should use, whether they need a laptop stand, and so on. If they’re spending most of their time at makeshift working stations, such as the sofa, bed or anywhere else where their posture won’t be ideal, this can cause long-term issues such as neck, shoulder and back problems, so it’s important to educate and support them on this issue.

Give them a break

When working from home, it can be hard to drag yourself away and leave the house for a break. Creating a culture where remote workers feel comfortable enough to take regular breaks away from their laptop will make sure they keep refreshed and come back focused on the task in hand.

Similarly, letting them know you expect them to disconnect from work at the right time can have a positive impact. You could even suggest they plan these breaks ahead of time, and add it to their calendar, to make it more likely they will take that time.

Extra flexibility

Some people may want to work remotely so they can do the school run, meaning they’ll need to work around certain times. Others might want to attend gym classes during the afternoon as it helps them to refocus and stay motivated. It’s important to be aware of this and understand each individual’s needs, empowering them to do the things they enjoy most alongside work. Focus on what they produce, not what time they’re online.

Build trust

To get the most out of an employee who is working remotely, you have to build trust. Feeling trusted to get on with the job at hand is a key component of workplace wellbeing. While some managers will prefer regular face-to-face interaction, it’s vital that the employee isn’t treated any differently just because they aren’t around as often.

Maintaining regular conversations is key to building this trust. Encouraging them to attend regular meetings in the office where possible will also help and let them know they are a key part of the team, regardless of their whereabouts.

The author is Alaana Linney, sales director at Bupa Health Clinics.

This article was provided by Bupa.

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