Remote working can be a game-changer for businesses when it’s handled right! You can save costs, boost productivity, increase employee engagement and happiness, and become hyper-efficient. With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, more companies than ever before are shifting to remote working. Support workers like customer service agents, technical support agents, and other frontline business workers have made their home into their office. This can lead to great things for the business, but it’s also true that remote working needs to be implemented effectively.
You can’t just relocate your workforce overnight and expect everything to run as normal. The key to making this adjustment successful lies in how you engage your employees. Happy and inspired employees are better at their jobs. When they are better at their jobs, they are better for your business. There’s really no secret formula here. Put simply, happy employees lead to happy customers and a thriving business!
But how do you inspire your employees when you can’t just bring them a coffee and have a pep talk? How do you make them feel appreciated when you can’t walk up to their desk and say a sincere “thank you” for a job well done? It’s just easier to motivate and inspire in person, right? Not exactly!
We think it’s easier to motivate people in an office environment because it’s what we’re familiar with. You’ve probably inspired your employee’s countless times in the office without even realizing. The truth is, you can inspire your employees remotely by adapting your techniques. What makes people feel inspired? Inspiration is essentially the drive to create and perform to your highest potential. You can foster this feeling by showing your employees that they are appreciated. You can show them that you’re invested in their future. You can make them feel part of a team. You can thank them for their good work. Is there anything that stops you from doing this with remote workers? Of course not! You just have to adapt your techniques.
Today we’re going to be looking at 9 ways you can inspire your remote working employees. Let’s take a look.
9 Things You Can Do to Inspire Your Remote Support Teams
1. Focus on Growth
People tend to feel uninspired when they don’t have a goal to focus on or something attainable and exciting to look forward to. People want to learn, grow, and move up the ladder. Just because your support team workers are frontline staff right now doesn’t mean they want to stay in their role forever. Even if they do want to stay in their role or their department, they still want to learn new skills and have new responsibilities. Learning and growing is human nature. Without it, we start to feel bored and unappreciated, which harms productivity.
We’re experiencing unprecedented times right now. Many staff are working remotely for the first time and dealing with novel problems. The stress and teething problems associated with this shift can result in former priorities being pushed to the side. Employee development is one of these areas.
Don’t forget about the personal and professional development of your support workers. If your support workers are working at home due to Coronavirus, then it’s important to keep things as normal as possible. If your staff has always worked remotely, then it’s important to show them that you care about their contribution to your business and that you’re invested in their future. Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Have regular performance reviews, but don’t make them stressful! Let your employees set some goals for themselves and help them achieve these goals.
- Remind them of the career options available to them in the future and the path to those roles.
- Set realistic and achievable goals regularly.
- Tell your employees of any extra training they have access to and how to get started!
2. Focus on What They Achieve
For far too long there has been this pervasive opinion that remote workers are somehow cheating. People often think that if you’re working from home, you’re probably not working. Maybe you’re just moving the mouse and watching Netflix? This attitude is both false and dangerous. When you start to view your employees as untrustworthy, it creates an unhealthy working atmosphere.
Although things are starting to change, this attitude is still surprisingly common. And it’s this attitude that leads managers to start micromanaging their employees. Don’t do this! Focus on your support worker’s achievements, not their activity. This is how you do it:
- Set expectations for what you want them to achieve. These expectations should be realistic and high level.
- Praise employees when they succeed.
- Don’t monitor their activity and comment on it to the point where they feel under attack. In a contact center, it’s normal to have certain number oriented targets like “close X tickets in a day” or “keep call time under X”. However, it’s important to let your employees do their job and only highlight issues as they arise. If you wouldn’t intervene in the office, then don’t do it when your employees are working from home.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Remote working can’t be done well without the help of modern digital technology. If you think working with clunky technology is hard in an office, then try doing it at home! In the office, employees are usually working on a larger screen and have quick and easy access to the IT support staff if anything goes wrong. At home, they are more often working on a smaller laptop which can be harder to work from without the right software. If the employee experiences any issues, then they can take much longer to fix.
Working with outdated or poorly optimized tech harms productivity and leaves workers feeling frustrated and uninspired. How can you feel inspired and energized by your job when it’s an uphill battle? You can’t!
Invest in the right tech as early as possible. This means hardware that is capable and reliable. It also means software that enhances efficiency and is easy to use. An omnichannel platform is a must-have if you want your support workers to thrive!
Using technology to your advantage isn’t about providing the bare minimum your workers need. Go beyond this! Adopt innovative solutions. Be forward-thinking and invest in tech that helps your employees perform on the next level.
4. Build a Personal Connection
Having remote team meetings is important, but it’s also important to develop one on one relationships with your staff. Get personal with them. Set up regular slots where you can check in with the members of your support team. Don’t make these meetings all about business. Sure, their personal performance might be the focus of the meeting, but don’t forget to be human. In an office environment, you can get to know your employees through the informal chats you have throughout the day. Maybe you pass them in the corridor and ask if they caught the latest episode of that popular show. Maybe you get chatting at the water fountain. Maybe you strike up a conversation when you see something on their desk.
You don’t get these moments with remote working, so you must find different ways of getting to know your employees. Here are some tips:
- Don’t be afraid to use emojis and GIFs where appropriate. Everyone likes light-hearted fun.
- Don’t go straight into talking about work. Ask them about their day or week. Ask if they have done anything fun or how they are feeling.
- A good way to develop a more personal connection with someone is to ask them for advice or help. This can be as simple as “have you watched anything good recently? I’ve run out of shows to binge-watch”. If they have a hobby, ask them about it and express interest. People love to be helpful!
5. Use Video Calls, Not Phone Calls
Only a small portion of our communication is verbal. Body language is crucial for conveying how we really feel. It’s also important to see someone when you’re talking because it helps you feel more at ease and engaged. This is why video calls are far superior to phone calls when communicating with remote staff.
6. Set Clear Goals
An office building can be a distracting environment where something is always happening and there’s lots of noise. This isn’t a problem for remote workers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t distractions at home. At home, we might be tempted to do household chores or run errands for the household. To help your employees stay on task, assign clear tasks for them.
Your employees should know exactly what their goals are for the day and the week. They should know exactly what tasks they are expected to complete. People are much less likely to get distracted when they can focus on the task at hand. Completing tasks and ‘ticking them off the list’ also makes us feel accomplished and this leads to higher levels of employee engagement.
7. Effective Communication
Communication is absolutely essential to a thriving remote support worker team. Your employees must be able to contact you, other team members, or others in the business with ease. To do this they need an effective communication platform and a culture of open communication.
Your employees should be 100% clear on how to contact you or who they should contact if they can’t get hold of you. Effective communication also helps employees feel connected to the business and motivated to see the business succeed.
8. Recognize and Reward Great Work
Working from home can feel lonely at times. Nothing will make an employee feel more connected to the business and more motivated to work than being praised for great work. Praise great work publically, in front of the whole team. This is great for the employee being praised and also motivating for the wider team. When other team members see what kinds of achievements get recognized and rewarded, they will be more likely to focus their attention in those areas and overall team performance will go up as a result.
9. Trust Them
You hired your support workers for a reason! You saw something in them that you liked. You hired people because you believed they would add value to your company. Trust your judgment on this by trusting your employees to do a good job. Your goal should be to create an environment, both through your tech and also through your culture, where your employees thrive. Trust them to come to you if they need help, and only intervene when necessary. Otherwise, trust them to get to work. Employees who feel trusted and autonomous are more productive, inspired, and successful.