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The importance of praise when working remotely

Written by Chris Griffiths on Monday, 04 May 2020. Posted in Leadership, People

It goes without saying that no matter our personal circumstances, everyone is going through a tough time right now.

The importance of praise when working remotely

It goes without saying that no matter our personal circumstances, everyone is going through a tough time right now. Due to the tragic outbreak of COVID-19 changing life as we know it (with us having no idea of when it could return to ‘normal’), it’s likely you’re feeling scared and uncertain about what might happen in the future. Not only that, but we’ve had to quickly adjust to the difficulty of our everyday routines being disrupted and not being able to visit our loved ones whenever the mood strikes us.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes many of us have experienced in recent weeks is swapping the workplaces we typically spend most of our waking hours in for our homes. Instead of getting into our cars or catching the train for the daily commute that has become second nature to us each morning, we’ve had to get used to travelling just a few steps to the makeshift offices in our spare rooms, bedrooms or kitchens. We’re no longer having our usual chats with our colleagues at the watercooler to give us a much-needed break throughout the day; instead, we’re now having one-sided conversations with our less-than-chatty pets or juggling working at home with caring for our children.

Remote working certainly has many benefits, from making us more productive to encouraging us to have a better work-life balance. By cutting out the hourly commute, we have more time to ourselves once our working day has ended. Being trusted to work away from the watchful eye of our superiors and being ready to do so when inspiration strikes also ensures that we work to our full potential and give our brains the much-needed breaks it deserves throughout the day. Despite this, one of the things that can be easily lost when working remotely is communication.

Communication, of course, is vital as it keeps everyone working together on the same page. It helps avoid overlaps and ensures that the right tasks get done by the right person at the right time - and that they’re ready for those all-important deadlines. Collaborating with multiple people can also give you additional perspectives on a problem you may be faced with, leading to more solutions and creative ideas being generated. Moreover, regular communication with your team is also key to making your employees feel like a team, and that they are appreciated too.

Giving regular praise to your workers is something that is easily overlooked, but is essential for raising morale and ensuring that everyone feels motivated to achieve their (as well as your business’s collective) goals. This has long been the case, with a 2012 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) reporting that 93% of employees who said they felt valued by their employers were more motivated to do their best at work. Gallup’s "State of the American Workforce” report from 2017 also identified that 51% of employees were disengaged with their work and had been for some time, commenting that one of the primary ways to reengage these individuals would be to make them feel recognised for their work.

Now that face-to-face contact with your teams is likely reserved to occasional video chats, it’s safe to assume that communication levels have dropped within your organization. With being able to say “thanks” to someone for a job well done not being as easy as walking a few steps to their desk anymore, the amount of praise you deliver to your team has probably fallen to the wayside without you noticing in recent weeks -  particularly because there are so many other things to be concerned about right now.

During this time, it’s normal for employees to feel unmotivated and struggle to concentrate on carrying on with ‘business as usual’ due to feelings of loneliness (especially for those that live alone), sadness due to them no longer being able to see their friends and families, and worries about themselves or their loved ones becoming ill. There is plenty of concern about the effect the pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures could be having on our mental health, with a recent survey by the UK’s Office of National Statistics discovering that 47% of people had reported having “high levels” of anxiety. In addition to this, 53% of people said that the virus was affecting their well-being.

Although the threat of Coronavirus and the impact it is having on the world won’t magically disappear overnight, taking the time to recognize your employees’ commitment to your business and their achievements during this time could have a considerable effect on their positivity levels, making them feel less alone and boosting their motivation levels. So, how should you be offering this praise when human contact is limited to the virtual kind?

How to deliver praise when working remotely

Thanks to us living in a time where using technology is deeply ingrained into most of our brains, communication doesn’t have to be lost just because we’re physically spending more time apart. With solutions such as video conferencing software, instant messaging apps and collaborative work management software being available at our fingertips, getting in touch with your team is as simple as clicking a few buttons and typing a short message. Whether it’s saying “thank you” for getting a report completed quickly or offering feedback on a great marketing campaign, using these channels to praise your employees can be easily done - and it will make all the difference.

Holding video calls with your immediate team each day or your wider business every few weeks can help to ensure that everyone still feels connected and that they are kept in the loop of what everyone is working on. You could even use these occasions to shout out an employee who has done a particularly great job on a task or project to give them a much-needed boost!

Offering rewards is also a great way of showing your team that you appreciate them. According to research from Reward Gateway, 91% of HR workers agree that rewards and recognition have a positive effect on employee retention. Right now, this isn’t as easy as walking over to an employees’ desk and giving them a gift card for their favourite store or arranging to take your entire team out for a celebratory meal after work. However, something as simple as sending some chocolates to their homes or letting them finish work a few hours early on a Friday will let them know that they’re valued and remind them that you’re thinking of their wellbeing during this difficult time when maintaining human connection is so important.

About the Author

Chris Griffiths

Chris Griffiths

Chris Griffiths has over 28 years’ experience setting up and leading successful businesses that have ranked in the ‘Deloitte European Fast 50’ and ‘The Sunday Times Fast-track 100’. He is the CEO of OpenGenius and the developer of Ayoa.com, a platform used by top thinkers to boost productivity, allowing users to create, communicate and innovate all in one place.

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