As we enter week 4 of lockdown here in the UK, the task now for many companies who have rapidly deployed remote working is to keep morale and productivity levels high. It appears that we have another 3-4 weeks of lockdown before restrictions ease; and even then, it’s unclear when we can all return to business as usual.
It’s likely that you’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride since the 23rd March, not least seeing morale and productivity fluctuating as employees adjust to radically different working practices. These two factors are inextricably linked, when morale is low productivity tends to fall. Whereas when productivity is high, people are generally happier and more satisfied in their work.
Many of the team at Cloud Business work remotely as a matter of course, so we’ve got lots of experience keeping morale and productivity levels high regardless of where people are based. Here we share our advice for those of you that are new to the virtual workplace.
Remote working challenges – boosting morale and productivity
Share the tips below with your executive sponsors and users, but also model best practice by using them during the course of your working day.
Over-communicating is good: when you work remotely no one can know everything you do during the day or what you’re working on from one minute to the next. It’s therefore good to over-communicate to keep everyone in the loop. Especially if you are doing tasks that are precursors to tasks others will have to work on after you.
This also avoids situations where work is duplicated by different people, or where decisions are made and not communicated to the key people who need to know.
Use chat channels to keep people informed about what you’re doing, and project management tools like Planner to visibly tick off things on your ‘to do’ list and link other people into your projects.
Use video by default: face-to-face contact is important for morale, especially when people are used to working in an office environment and physically seeing their colleagues all the time. Initial video chats using tools like Microsoft Teams so you can have face-to-face contact albeit virtually.
The chat option in Teams allows you to type a message or start a voice or video call – don’t be shy, use video to boost morale and initiate human contact with others in your team.
Increase IT support coverage: not being able to get on with work naturally has an impact on productivity, but it’s also detrimental to morale. When working remotely, employees may be worried about their job security if they’re not able to perform at their best – even when it’s not their fault. They may also feel undervalued if their request for support isn’t seen as a priority.
Globally, many IT support teams have experienced high volumes of requests in recent weeks and therefore resolution times are not always as quick as a user may expect. If you can’t increase coverage to handle more tickets, explore whether you can improve your communications with users. Make sure they feel valued, that they know their request has been logged, provide a timeline for a response and also point them in the direction of any self-serve options.
Virtual coffees and happy hours: allow virtual meetings and corporate collaboration tools to be used for socialising as a company or department, as well as for work. Social opportunities have a positive effect on morale, and also productivity. In fact, regular events like this will help to ensure employees take a break and have a chance to refocus and reenergise before resuming work.
Ask for feedback on how everyone’s getting on: regularly check in with users to find out how they’re getting on with remote working. You could initiate a forum for sharing remote working tips, as well as for answering questions and collating feedback. Make it a collaborative experience as some of your users may have useful hacks and ideas that will help the wider team.
Here at Cloud Business we use a combination of Yammer and Teams to share insights internally and get feedback on projects and initiatives.
If you have any questions or need advice about how to deploy remote working from a technology perspective, please get in touch.
Teams users may also find out quick start guide useful. This provides an overview of the key function to help you connect and collaborate with other users in your organisations, and with external parties such as clients and suppliers. Download your copy here >