The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world; this was no subtle, long-game like climate-change either. It hit, and the entire globe was impacted almost immediately. From organizations shutting their doors completely to brands and businesses transitioning to a fully remote operations model, there was a lot of very rapid change that occurred over the last several years. Even now, organizations are continuing to operate remotely.
The remote workforce has proven itself more than viable since its emergence as a popular business model, much thanks to the preceding foundation of society-wide technological integration. However, this is also because of the way that it has impacted employee productivity.
Without a draining daily commute, remote professionals are effectively gaining between two and four hours back into their day. Not only that, but since the remote work transition, employees have reported higher rates of job satisfaction and engagement, while also achieving a healthier work-life-balance. Overall, the switch to a remote workforce has been highly beneficial.
That said, work is work, and morale isn’t always going to be 100%. Some of the morale boosting strategies of the past don’t transition all that well into the remote work world. Here are some morale boosting strategies that are effective, even in remote settings.
“Your staff morale is the backbone of your business. As an organization’s leader, you can’t afford to not take it seriously: not only do numerous studies show that positive work cultures breed productivity (but more on that later), but it pays to keep your employees happy. After all, the happier they are, the harder they work, right?”
– Guy Lalzary, Director of Demand Generation, Connecteam –
Communicating With Empathy and Understanding
Communication has always been important in a business or organizational setting. However, in the remote working world, communication takes on an even larger role than it had previously. Especially in today’s day and age where there is already a growing focus on inclusion, acceptance, and respect, communicating with empathy is crucial to developing honest bonds with your team members.
“We’re currently seeing one of the largests corporate pushes for socially responsible action and respectful communication that we’ve ever seen. These are values that are finally emerging as practical in the business world, as well as in other areas of society.”
– Lilian Chen, Co-Founder and COO, Bar None Games –
Being able to hear people out and speak to them with honesty and respect is a vital skill to cultivate in a world that is so digital. With client calls, internal meetings, and collaboration sessions all taking place over video conferences or instant messaging platforms, it’s incredibly important to have a strong grip on effective and productive communication practices.
“More than anything, employees want to feel valued and respected in their place of work. They want to feel like they’re actively contributing and also seen as a human being.”
– Breanne Millette, CEO, Bisoulovely –
In the remote working world, and even in the context of in-person work, acknowledgement is crucial. Team members, employees, and even leaders need to receive a bit of praise from time to time. Publicly acknowledging a team member’s impact and recognizing their contributions can go a long way in fostering high levels of employee morale.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re in the office or working over Slack and email; people need to know that their work matters. Acknowledging someone’s contribution doesn’t take more than a few minutes, and it can make a world of difference to that person’s mood.”
– Lindsay Malu Kido, CEO, Empower Pleasure –
In the same vein as acknowledgement is actually providing rewards and performance incentives. Performance incentives can be extremely unique, and companies can get creative with how to reward high-performing or high-achieving employees. Monetary bonuses are always nice, but many employees also value extra time off or other added benefits.
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, managers were getting really creative with the different types of incentives they would offer high-achieving employees. Extra vacation time still may be one of the best incentives a company can offer.”
– Representative at Illumix –
Flexible Scheduling and Working Hours
When it comes to working remotely, one of the reasons employees report a better work-life balance is because they’re empowered to create a more flexible schedule, as long as management is understanding and empathetic. Making the work-from-home policy clear can give employees a sense of ownership over their schedule that was previously not possible with in-person work.
“It’s not your job to hold anyone’s hand and watch over their shoulder to ensure they work gets done. As long as the work gets done when it’s due, try having a more relaxed, flexible approach. If someone wants to work from 6:00 am through 2:00 pm, and it doesn’t harm the team or clients, why not let them?”
– Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer, Videeo –
Flexible schedules and remote work go hand-in-hand with one another, which can be beneficial for employees and employers alike. Employees report being more engaged and productive during working hours, and companies reap the benefits of the improved metrics.
“One of the shifts in the dynamic that the work-from-home culture has instilled is this break-taking mentality. When you’re in an office, it’s a lot harder to step away from your desk for a quick five-minute pause. However, people are much more productive when they take regular breaks.”
– Brian Munce, Managing Director, Gestalt Brand Lab –
No matter if you’re working remotely or you’re in the office, micromanagement is an unproductive and inefficient management style. Not only does this make the employee feel like they’re being treated like a child, but it removes any sense of autonomy they have over their role and responsibilities. As such, a micromanagement style is actually a hindrance to productivity in almost every environment.
“If managers are micromanaging, that business probably won’t get very far. Micromanagement is one of the most effective ways to kill productivity; no one gets anything done when they’re being looked at under a microscope.”
– Monte Deere, CEO, Kizik –
Hands-off management, on the other hand, is an empowering strategy that allows employees to make the most out of their days while giving them ownership over their responsibilities; this can also foster employee engagement. A hands-off approach to management should make it easier for employees and team members to approach leaders with legitimate questions or issues when they arise.
“While there has to be some level of oversight at every company, trusting those around you to do their jobs is vital to the success of any organization. If you can’t trust your employees, why hire them in the first place?”
– Erin Banta, Co-Founder and CEO, Pepper Home –
Creating Social Opportunities
Just because team members are working remotely doesn’t mean they can’t socialize or find virtual ways to interact and bond with one another. In fact, there are a plethora of ways for organizations to create virtual experiences that bring team members closer together.
“There are so many interesting, unique, and creative ways to foster bonding through teams, even those that are virtual. It’s in your best interest to find different types of icebreaker activities, like virtual trivia, as ways to allow people to work together and get to know each other.”
– Marilyn Zubak, Marketing Lead, Snif –
Besides virtual trivia, managers and leadership can provide a space for virtual coffees or an occasional virtual happy hour. These events can be coordinated and organized to fit the exact nature of the team participating, too.
“Try having dedicated Slack channels for different groups, like those who want to share a virtual coffee. It doesn’t have to be active every single day, but it gives people a safe space to go to when they want to bond with each other and boost their mood.”
– Lyudmyla Dobrynina, Head of Marketing North America, Optimeal –
Wrapping up on Boosting Remote Employee Morale
Employee morale has always been a subject of fascination for managers, organizational leaders, and other decision-makers within businesses. Now, the pursuit of increasing and promoting high levels of employee morale is even more complicated, as organizations have to navigate the ever-changing remote work world.
Communicating with empathy and understanding, acknowledging and rewarding performance, and offering team members plenty of opportunities to engage with and get to know one another will all work together to create a truly wonderful working atmosphere and company culture.
“Boosting the morale of your team cannot be overlooked, especially when your team is remote. As you work to build your company culture keep in mind that you can (and should!) always keep improving. Hold quarterly meetings to assess your remote processes and identify new ways in which you can better improve morale. Course correct where necessary and build a remote workplace that will skyrocket your company towards success.”
– Maggie Schlundt, Content Writing Specialist, Matter Communications –
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.