The hustle continues, even with everyone working from home. Adjusting to this new normal made me realize how effortless it seemed to stay motivated when everyone was collocated. The proverbial distance has seen a rise in the need for work from home motivation.
When we block out distractions, we also unfortunately end up excluding non-work banter. The truth is, conversation and collaboration comes more naturally offline than it does online. Being geographically and socially distanced deepens the feeling of alienation, which causes the motivation to stay productive to drop.
This post contains tips from a fellow remote worker to another, which I hope helps you stay motivated when working from home!
1. How Do You Stay Motivated and Engaged when Working from Home?
Researchers have studied the correlation between working from home and motivation long before the pandemic. An HBR study on 20,000 workers revealed that taking away the choice of where to work caused motivation levels to drop by a further 17 points. Put simply, being confined day-in, day-out in one place took away the sense of fulfillment and satisfaction you would have gotten from being in a different place.
The study reveals, that the three Ps to increased work performance are a sense of
- a. Purpose
- b. Play
- c. Potential
Going somewhere, for example, is an act you associate with completing a goal. It can be anything, from reporting to work to something as everyday as a grocery run. Similarly, having everyone together in the same place would have helped a colleague or manager read the verbal, facial and social cues better, enabling them in turn to make decisions.
The key to keeping remote employees motivated lies in facilitating an environment of purpose. This can happen when communication is standardized and deliberate. Working from home requires departmental managers to be in sync with other departments besides their own, so that everyone is involved and informed of updates, alerts and notifications as and when required.
2. How to stay Motivated When Working from Home
2.1 Personalize the work set up
Reserve a corner in your house or room specifically for work. Whether you’re using your own devices or that of your company’s, be sure to set it up in a place that you can organize and neaten up. A clutter-free desk helps you reach for things easily, be it a USB charger or notepad. Surround yourself with personal effects, such as a miniature potted plant, a photo frame or a DIY painting, macrame or wall hanging to give it a cozy vibe. Physical surroundings influence your stress levels which is why you need control over where you wish to work and what type of physical space speaks to you.
2.2 Customize your schedule
Go over your schedule with your manager on a one-on-one and group basis. In these calls, you can clarify the expectations conveyed and agree on what needs delivering, and when.
2.3 Figure out the productivity window
Everyone need not feel productive at the same time. Some people are morning people and get the most done in the first half, while others work better during the second half of the day. The productivity window can help you narrow down your work down. It lets you recheck if you’re spending your time right while you’re on the clock. By fitting in time-intensive, critical work, you’re assured of doing it justice.
2.4 Work in blocks
What can cause you to lose motivation when working from home is the sense of losing control. Working in blocks remedies this by breaking tasks into timed blocks, thus rendering it more manageable. And when something can be quantified and qualified to be manageable, your motivation to complete it increases.
The principle of dividing work into blocks of time hinges on delayed gratification. It reduces the chances of you procrastinating or getting distracted by changing how you see work. For instance,if you feel like taking a break to scroll your social media, you can do so guilt-free knowing that you completed what you scheduled earlier.
2.5 Take frequent breaks
Being sedentary for too long is bad for your health. If your job has you working at a desk ( as most remote jobs do), it’s essential to take frequent breaks to recharge both your mind and body. A walk around your home every 2 hours or on a treadmill can help you fit in a workout. That being said, breaks needn’t only be about exercise. You can read, dance to music, spend time catching up with a friend or coworker or take a power nap. All these measures can clear your mind and give you the work from home motivation to keep going!
2.6 Fit in a brief workout or activity
Just because you’re no longer in an office doesn’t mean you do not devise a routine. That’s the biggest mistake you can make because you’ll end up mismanaging whatever time you do have. Your routine should leave you with enough time to focus on work as well as personal errands, including home workouts. You can choose to do this either before you log in, during or after you log out, according to your preferences and convenience. Exercise floods your brain with ‘feel-good’ hormones that restore your confidence and motivation to work.
2.7 Eat healthy
You are what you eat. Make it a habit to incorporate healthy, organic superfoods into your daily diet so that your body is getting all the essential nutrients it needs as fuel. And some foods are known to improve brain function, concentration and memory, such as eggs, berries, fish and leafy greens. Make yourself a frittata loaded with spinach leaves and you’ll notice a boost in your energy levels in the morning!
2.8 Take a wellbeing day off
Taking a day off or cashing in your complimentary time off (if your company offers it as a perk), leads to better work from home motivation for the remaining days of the week. You can use the time off to attend to personal matters, draw a relaxing bath, sleep in or meditate. You’ll notice a spring in your step when you return to work feeling more level-headed and rested!
2.9 Facilitate a meditative retreat
Managers and teammates alike can relax in a virtual group retreat. The company can either organize it in house with a brief midday session or appoint an external facilitator to take interested departments through a series of meditative exercises. In both cases, housekeeping rules need to be communicated ahead of the retreat so that the attendees get all the benefits. These rules include setting up in a quiet and calming environment, muting attendees once the session begins and inviting feedback to determine if future sessions can be conducted.
2.10 Organize group fun hour
Work from home motivation can stem from virtual gatherings for team building. It’s a substitute for in-person activities, but can be just as fun! You can organize a virtual scavenger hunt, or team building activities. Even better, invite a few workers to choreograph a flash mob dance as a surprise on the call! The rest of your team in the audience is sure to be cheered up.
3. How to Motivate Employees Working From Home
So how do you motivate people who are distanced when they’re not directly before you? Here’s the deal; different sights, sounds or feelings fuel motivation. And you’ll probably need to try a cocktail of remedies before finding one that works for everyone. Here are a few ways to help you help your work-from-homers;
3.1 Show your face
Be the example you want others to follow. Don’t be a leader who only remembers them when you need something from them. Instead, show yourself on camera on calls and chec in with them through group and individual messages. You can create a virtual corner on any workspace everyone’s using and keep it active to encourage discussions. If anyone wants to jump onto a group call, they can ask with a show of hand emojis who all are available to attend, agenda or no agenda.
3.2 Be demonstrative in your appreciation
If someone has achieved or exceeded the expectation, be vocal about your appreciation.Make sure to highlight it in the week that you come to know of a goal being reached so that news stays fresh in everyone’s minds when you announce it on a daily stand up. Sales teams use a Gong to sound off winning an account. You can use a similar system for your team where everyone claps and says a few words of encouragement and admiration.
3.3 Harmonize together before work starts
Singing is shown to relieve stress and anxiety. Organize a musical session (A capella, for example) to start the day right. The before-work activity need not be limited to singing; you can also have the group perform an activity everyone finds relaxing and enjoyable, such as meditation, Yoga, Zumba or stretching. Getting everyone together recreates the feeling you’re back at the office and reduces the gulf some remote workers experience from working too long by themselves.
3.4 Announce weekly or monthly awards
A good idea to ensure the goals teams have to meet within a certain time or date is to incentivize it with a reward. Draw up the goals per team per department and factor in the time, skills, subject knowledge and number of people you want on it. You can turn it into a competition if two or more people are working on the same task. Whoever completes the task in the most efficient and accurate way possible is the winner of the week.
3.5 Offer health and well-being packs
When you’re working at home, you risk defaulting to a sedentary lifestyle, unless you have access to fitness and workouts adjusted to your new normal. Offering well-being packages for the virtual office and encouraging people to sign up for them enables them to squeeze some activity in and helps them recharge. Some companies are even offering insurance cover specifically for Covid-10 and running vaccination drives for employees in light of the difficulty booking slots. These are measures you can considering implementing so that employees no longer have to spend more than they have to for basic health check ups and shots.
4. Motivation Tips to Work from Home During Lockdown
In the bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, countries have imposed international and national lockdowns. This has curbed the movement of people beyond the essentials. As a result, the majority of the workforce is homebound. All virtual employees are experiencing lockdown blues stemming from the feeling that there’s nothing to look forward to, which is impacting their motivation levels.
Here are some ways to bring that work from home motivation back!
4.1 Create a priority list
The priority list refers to those tasks that need to be attended to first. It is created based on the length of time it takes to finish, the availability of other collaborators and who needs to sign off or approve the final piece of work. This list helps you schedule your time better and gives you the satisfaction that whatever was needed from your end has been crossed off the list.
4.2 Reward yourself
Reward yourself for every goal you reach. If you’re having trouble completing something, a reward can motivate you to persevere. For example, you can treat yourself to your favorite cup of hot cocoa after finishing a blog post, Or, if you’d rather save the self-treat for after you log out, you can catch up on a favorite Netflix episode or book. In other words, you’re giving yourself something to look forward to at the end of the day to make work less daunting!
4.3 Talk openly
It’s the easiest thing in the world to misread someone’s intentions and actions when you can’t see them or verify for yourself what everyone is doing. If a certain goal isn’t met, our first instinct is to assume the person entrusted with it was slacking off. In reality, the reason could be anything, such as a competing priority, assisting someone else or even something personal. There’s no way for you to know unless members feel comfortable opening up, right?
Weaving communication into the heart of your company’s remote work culture makes both managers and teams accountable and accessible. This communication must go both ways if you want to establish trust and transparency. Encouraging members to talk openly enables managers to get a better handle of the situation. They and the team member(s) in question can go over possible remediation together as opposed to a command and control leadership.
4.4 Minimize distractions
Where you work determines what kind of distractions you’ll be dealing with. There are the ones you bring upon yourself (such as unchecked social media time) or something beyond your control (such as a neighborhood dog’s incessant barking). It is important to assess your living situation to see where best would your work station go to create a nearly quiet and peaceful environment for you to work uninterrupted. You could take up measures yourself, such as placing your personal devices in another room to make you have to walk for it, or installing a background noise blocker when on calls, such as Krisp.ai.
5. The Bottomline
A lack of motivation working from home can hit anyone and is independent of your seniority or skills, although it impacts your ability to put those skills to good use. Many formerly office-based companies have crossed the first hurdles of moving their teams to the virtual office; sending work devices across for employees to set up, providing remote tech assistance and standardizing common means of communication tools.
The next part is to prevent work from home motivation from tanking. And no, I’m not talking about the occasional fluctuation in how motivated you feel.
I won’t sugar coat it; you’re going to have to acknowledge that demotivated employees are also more routinely stressed and fatigued. Once you recognize how it hurts both them and the business, you can take steps to engage them.
The mistake most leaders make is that they only reach out when they need a work update or someone to criticize if something isn’t going well. A shift in perception can help change how often and why you communicate. It enables you to understand the factors that cause a person to lose steam when working, and what can be done to remedy it.