Employee engagement tech can help you keep your dispersed team motivated
Keeping staff motivated during the Coronavirus pandemic when they are working alone at home is a major challenge for charities. That’s because many team members will never have done remote working before. Away from the office routine, the camaraderie and banter, it is very easy to feel forgotten by charity leaders and disconnected from the charity’s goals. When that happens, staff can lose motivation very quickly indeed.
The good news is that digital employee engagement tech, used in the right way, can make a huge contribution to keeping your remote workers motivated. Here’s how:
1.) Morning meetings
It’s important for anyone doing remote working to feel they are still part of a team, and to maintain relationships with fellow team members. To this end, many organisations hold short morning meetings using video conferencing software before teams start work, where staff can discuss with colleagues current projects, any help they need or problems they are encountering. A regular morning video conference also provides an opportunity for team members to catch up with each other socially and provide some human contact before getting down to work.
Popular digital video conferencing products and services includes Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting and WebEx. Zoom and Teams are available at a discounted charity rate (with Microsoft Teams as one feature included in an Office 365 for Nonprofits subscription).
2.) Open door policies
In a normal office environment, staff members may have the opportunity to chat to charity leaders in the lift or go and see them with a good idea or to highlight a problem. This type of easy access is much more difficult for those doing remote or flexible working, so there is a danger that staff members stop bothering to suggest improvements.
One effective way to counter this is for charity leaders to have a virtual office hour when they make themselves available in a chat channel on team collaboration software like Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Chanty, or in a Google Hangout, or in a dedicated video conferencing room which anyone can join.
3.) Time tracking
No-one likes to feel underappreciated, and when staff members are working from home they may feel that the hours that they are putting in go unnoticed – especially if they work late to ensure that vital tasks get completed.
Time tracking software can help remote workers stay motivated by logging the hours that they spend on various activities so that charity leaders can see and acknowledge their efforts. Time trackers can also help remote employees improve their time management, work more efficiently, and identify which tasks are taking up too much of their time and which other team members might be able to do more efficiently.
There is a wide range of time tracking software available, ranging from products and services like PomoDone and Tomato Timer – which help employees use their time more efficiently using the Pomodoro time management technique – to more sophisticated ones like Hubstaff and Timedoctor which enable charity leaders to see exactly who is spending how much time on specific activities and applications.
4.) Work-at-home mentors
In many organisations, there will inevitably be a few staff members who already have experience working at home, and these people can be a useful source of advice, tips and morale boosts for colleagues who are struggling to adapt to the reality of service delivery through extended remote working.
There are a number of technologies that work-at-home mentors can take advantage of: a digital newsletter via email for daily or weekly hints and tips, a dedicated "ask me anything" channel on team collaboration software such as Slack, a regular staff podcast, or even a series of YouTube videos.
5.) Give kudos
Staff are far more likely to remain engaged and motivated from an operations and efficiency standpoint when they see that their work is appreciated and recognition is given for their efforts, and according to research by psychologist Paul White people appreciate words of affirmation over gifts or other types of rewards.
Providing these words of affirmation to remote workers can be done using employee engagement tech in a number of ways – in a newsletter sent out by email, as an announcement at the morning meeting video conference (see above), or perhaps by posting a thank you note on the charity’s social media accounts or digital collaboration platform.
6.) Don’t forget to have fun
Remote employees are likely to feel more motivated when they are in a team they enjoy being part of. That means it’s important to continue with team bonding activities like team lunches or Friday evening pizza hours even when team members are all working in different places.
Thanks to the internet it is possible to arrange for pizza to be delivered to remote workers homes, or they can provide it themselves. In either case, a casual end-of-week team video conference where people can catch up while enjoying the food can work wonders for team morale and motivation.
If you don’t think pizza is appropriate for your charity there are many other ways to foster team bonding using video conferencing. A popular example is the "campfire" meeting where one team member each week selects a topic to discuss with other team members. This could be any personal hobby or passion such as metal detecting or vintage pinball machines and the idea is that by learning about the people they work with, remote workers bond and feel they are part of a close team.