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Though the concept of working from home became ubiquitous from one day to the next once the coronavirus pandemic hit, it had already begun to establish itself as an attractive option for companies and workers long before the world came to a sudden halt. But not everyone was eager to adopt it. As with any paradigm shift, the idea of pivoting to remote work caused managers unease, partly stemming from a fear that employees working from home would slack off. Likewise, people who had previously worked only in a traditional office setting were apprehensive about their ability to self-motivate without the daily structure they’d become accustomed to.
The myth of an idle, unproductive remote workforce has been dispelled time and again. In fact, employees working from home have shown to be more productive than their in-office counterparts (that is, of course, under more ideal circumstances than “in the midst of a global pandemic”). However, it’s still important to address the subject of motivation, and what that looks like for different people. Here are some tried-and-true approaches to working from home that help keep your team’s spirits high, and burnout at bay:
Encourage your team to wear whatever they want
A debate that raged on Twitter once working from home became the collective experience is whether or not one should change out of sweatpants during the day. It may seem like a simple question, but emotions ran high on the social platform. “Laugh away but this is true,” one writer tweeted, “when you “dress up” even to work from home, your attitude changes, productivity too.” Cody, a software engineer, disagrees. “I don’t know man,” he wrote, “my legs have never been more comfy and I’ve solved bigger bugs than ever before.” The truth is, changing into office attire first thing in the morning may help some switch into work mode, but the strategy is far from one-size-fits-all. Let your team know that anyone who finds that unconstricted legs help their productivity should, by all means, enjoy the possibility.
Set up a list-making system
“When I began working from home two years ago,” says Luis, a web developer and graphic designer, “I discovered the wonders of making lists.” For him, it starts with big-picture goals for the month, which then expand into smaller, day-to-day tasks. Knowing ahead of time exactly what you should be working on helps maintain focus, and the satisfaction of crossing off completed tasks will function as tangible proof of your progress. When managing remote teams, it’s helpful to take the lead and use a list-making software, like Google Keep or Todoist, so everyone can see the general tasks that need to be checked, and make their own using individual accounts.
Delineate a time and space for work
The already elusive “work-life balance” can become even harder to achieve once someone’s home becomes their office, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Setting boundaries — both in terms of space and time — is the best way to avoid having work bleed into your employees’ personal life, or vice versa. Encourage remote workers to set up a workspace and be strict about using it exclusively for work. This means everyone should be able to step away from their computers during lunch time, and their beds and couches should be off-limits for any activity other than leisure. And though working from home offers extra flexibility to work schedules, it’s best to still keep some semblance of a routine. Remember everyone is different, so they should feel free to determine when they feel most productive, and build their day around that time frame.
(If you’re unsure how to approach helping your team set up their ideal workspace, we’ve got you covered!)
Make the most of your flexible schedule
One of the greatest perks of working from home is having more freedom than what a rigid office schedule offers. Managers and workers alike should know that they are trusted to be the ultimate guardians of their time and productivity. By encouraging your team to take breaks to cook, exercise, enjoy time in the garden, or walk the dog around the block, you’ll ensure they’re enjoying their remote scheme and feeling motivated to stay on track.