Dawn Davies is a partner at Bespoke Training & Development and gives her thoughts on why working from home is a different experience for all of us and explains what you can do about it.
Working from home –
Why it’s different in a pandemic and what you can do about it
In recent blogs, we have written about how, for many of us, working from home has become normal. We have also explored the importance of a home-work balance. However, it is easy to forget that during a lockdown, there are a variety of internal and external forces that make working from home different for each of us:
1. We are isolated – Not only do we have to work from home, but our freedom and social opportunities are greatly restricted. We can’t meet friends, exercise or socialise on our own terms. And we are all isolated to different degrees.
2. Not everyone has a home-office – I can count on one hand the people I meet fortunate enough to work in a dedicated home office. Some professionals are coping in extreme circumstances; Team calls along-side their partner and families in a bedroom or kitchen. And then anything in-between.
3. Not all businesses have risen to the home working challenge – In my experience, there is a large divide in the way that businesses have adapted to home working. This could be in terms of the equipment they are providing, the expectations they place on their staff, and the support they offer.
4. Your job role may be different during lockdown – We work with commercial and medical teams. Some of them are paid to sell and others are paid to engage externally. But none of them are able to adopt the same tactics that they could use pre-lockdown. Because as clever as Zoom, Teams and Trello are, they all have their limitations in a business world where face-to-face engagement was the norm. This alone requires patience, adaptation and a deep breath.
5. Work may not be the only thing we manage 9 to 5 – Office environments are a great leveller because we don’t have to supervise our children in the office. Not the case, during lockdown.
6. Lockdown suits certain personality types – People with low socially driven motivators can find working from home in lockdown empowering and liberating. Conversely, the social butterflies amongst us may be feeling trapped, isolated, frustrated, or anxious.
7. We’ve changed – The pandemic has been a pretty drastic, life-changing experience, and so it’s natural that our influences have shifted, and our motivation affected.
8. Our motivations are influenced by this situation – Many of us may be more motivated by security, stability and predictability at a time when social values require us to wash our hands whilst singing happy birthday or wearing face masks in a shop. Those of us who have found these new rules easy to adopt were probably already highly motivated in this way. And those who took a 2nd or 3rd lockdown to catch up, may now place this routine-like motivation higher up their list. However, the reverse can be true and some of us will reflect on the current situation and conclude that predictability is out of the window, so why bother.
So how can you manage a world where internal and external forces are creating a perfect working from home storm?
Here’s my 5 tips for you:
1. Understand your team’s motivators – On an individual level Start by asking the participant to complete a questionnaire which will help you and them to explore their individual motivators. By giving themselves positive messages, this will encourage self-motivation. This could be writing down the positive things they’ve experienced throughout the day, and giving themselves a pat on the back for even the smallest and simplest of things. Above all, remember there’s no shame in asking for help and giving yourself some ‘me time’.
2. Learn about how motivation impacts teamwork Encourage group discussion on motivators within your team. Explore how lockdown and remote-working may have changed the team’s dynamics, so that the team can understand how their motivators are and have been affected during the pandemic.
3. Learn This is such an obvious one that I almost omitted it! It’s important you reflect on what you got right during the pandemic and what you got wrong. From the supply of kit, to a virtual social, there is vital feedback to empower you. You just need to be brave enough to ask for it. I love a question that I heard recently which was “If Covid was a teacher, what has it taught you?”
4. Give your staff as many options as you can In a perfect world, giving your team the complete freedom to work in the way that motivates them, would be the best option. Because a motivated workforce has the energy that creates greater productivity. So, endeavour to understand what that perfect world looks like. The closer you can get to it, the happier and more motivated your colleagues will be.
5. Customise your approach Our individual and collective levels of motivation may continue to change as the situation does, so customising your approach as we ride this Covid rollercoaster, is my final tip.
Good luck. And may the force be with you.
If you’d like to discuss more about how we can boost your team’s motivation, then contact Dawn at firstname.lastname@example.org