Top Ten Tips...Encouraging Self Discipline in 'Work From Home' Teams
Working from home has become a normal part of many of our lives in the past year. In pre-lockdown days home-working felt like the opportunity to sleep in late, to enjoy the lack of commute and the chance to work all day in our pyjamas. But we’re learning that it’s actually an art form, especially if you’re now juggling home schooling or other caring responsibilities too. Staying motivated and self-disciplined can be a real issue.
Here our Top Ten Tips for encouraging self-discipline in your teams while working from home:
1. Create the right environment
If you create the right setup at home, you’re more likely to feel motivated and able to concentrate. It might feel cosier working from the couch or your bed, but you are unlikely to feel productive. If you don’t have a spare room or a large dining table, can you find some nook in your home suitable for a fold-away table which you can work from? Lighting is also important too, if you can sit by a window to allow natural light in, the vitamin D boost will help to lift your spirits and productivity.
2. Be flexible
Agile working has given employees more flexibility regarding when they log on and off, depending on when they’re most productive and what fits in with their home life. Early birds may be up and running from 7am where others may feel more energised working late. Many of your colleagues with families or caring responsibilities will appreciate the opportunity to log off to pick the kids up from school or to visit a relative. The key is to encourage your employees to stick to their own routine where possible so you know where you stand.
3. Set virtual checklists
Having most or all of your workforce at home doesn’t mean your overall business objectives need to go out the window. With many businesses struggling to stay afloat right now, your business plan and objectives are likely to be more important than ever before. Why not set virtual checklists that rank your goals by completion date and how important they are? If any of your colleagues find themselves struggling or at a loose end then they know what they are ultimately aiming to achieve.
4. Encourage break times
It’s really tough to work from home all day without taking breaks, which happen more naturally in an office environment. Working straight through will only emphasise the feelings of isolation and loneliness which often comes with home working. Whether it’s getting some exercise, grabbing coffee or a virtual lunch break with a colleague, a break from work activities is essential for colleagues to feel refreshed and re-energised. Encourage your employees to spend their break times creatively.
5. Work on your team spirit
It’s been a tough start to the year for everyone and with staff working in isolation, or maybe not at all during furlough, morale is likely to be low. Alternatively, you may have a workforce who have shined during lockdown by working together in the face of adversity. Either way, now is a good time to either help your colleagues to get back on track or to harness the entrepreneurial spirit they continue to show during lockdown. Think about ways to bring your colleagues together remotely, even if they cannot be with each other in person. Being part of a hard working team will help to boost motivation.
6. Encourage virtual networking
With more people working from home and far less face-to-face meetings occurring, it has been difficult to maintain relationships with others during lockdown. It can be easy to fall into the trap of constantly sending emails or text messages instead of picking up the phone or setting up a video call. Having strong connections is really important right now as we rely on other people to inspire and motivate us. A simple phone call to your colleagues to ask how they are, a courtesy call to a regular customer or to check in on the partners you work with is so simple but will no doubt be appreciated.
7. Provide something to look forward to
While it is almost impossible to plan too far ahead right now, you can boost morale and motivation by providing something to look forward to in the short-term. Now would be a good time to introduce an ‘employee of the week’ award or to provide some other way of helping your employees to feel good about themselves and their role. Why not challenge your colleagues to a virtual fundraising challenge to bring you all together for a good cause?
8. Encourage colleagues to create their own culture
How your colleagues feel about home working can depend on their personalities so it is important to be flexible in your approach to them and how they like to work. For the social butterflies in your team who like to bounce ideas off each other and thrive on the energy of others, it’s useful to set up regular team meetings on Zoom or Teams or opportunities for them to catch up virtually out of work, such as a group WhatsApp. Others might find their motivation in the quiet, solitary nature of their home office.
9. Encourage boundaries
Our motivation can be easily dashed at home if there are constant distractions. Weather it’s the lure of a stocked fridge, the TV, a sunny garden, pets or children – there are plenty of things to lure us away from our desks. The biggest distraction is probably our families. We’ve all had unexpected, although welcome, additions to our virtual meetings in the form of colleagues’ kids. Encourage your colleagues to set boundaries for when they are working to help them stay motivated.
10. Log out of emails and social media
If you have a big project on the go, then cutting out all distractions will help you stay motivated and avoid distractions. Emails and social media are the worst culprits for causing distractions, especially when we’re working from home and like to be ‘seen’ to be responsive. If the project you’re working on needs your undivided attention there’s no harm in logging out of your emails and social media accounts (if you use these for work purposes) so you can concentrate.
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