The events of March and April 2020 with booming worldwide pandemic were a shock to everyone. Services that required personal interactions were prohibited, productions were stopped or slowed down, millions of employees around the world were laid off, many local businesses were force to close down. The International Monetary Fund officially stated, that the world has not seen such drastic economic contraction, even in the times of crisis in 2008 and 2009. Not being able to assure a safe work environment, thousands of companies – and institutions like schools – were forced to provide their employees with necessary equipment and let them work from home.
Home office is not a new or unknown term, but many of those who have been working in a fixed place for years feel like it is. What also needs to be pointed out, not only the subordinates had to rearrange their professional life, but also the supervisors and managers. Both parties were faced with a challenge of staying motivated and reorganizing their work environment.
Working from home is a challenge for both employees and employers. For some individuals being parted from coworkers and supervisors is an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation. Not only is it harder to separate personal from professional life, but also to find motivation that keeps one on track. It is even more difficult for managers to watch over their subordinates and make sure their productivity stays on the same level when not seeing them in an office.
Therefore, it is crucial for leaders in small-sized businesses to get to know their employees on a more personal level. That is the only way to find out their needs and adapt the task and responsibilities individually. Once they find out by which need a person is driven, they can assign tasks that suit their personality which in the end will best motivate them.
An employee that requires being challenged will not be satisfied with tedious and monotonous tasks and will therefore get demotivated. A worker driven by power is more likely to leave the company once they don`t feel empowered. As everything seems more depressing and duller during a lockdown, the managers should take extra care of the person who is performing, not the outcome itself.
Importance of teamwork
The key to success in a small sized business is creating a team that functions like a well-oiled machine. individuals tend to feel more powerful and confident while working as one body. Each member of a group adds additional value to various processes like decision-making, coming up with ideas and solutions. Problems can be solved quicker and changes can be adapted more smoothly.
“Employees also feel better about decisions they make themselves, and are more likely to stick to the implementations that they have created for themselves, as opposed to those forced upon them” (West, et al., 1998).
However, a manager must not forget, that a team will not be successful just because its members work together – it has to be properly built. Not only does a team need people with different technical skills an knowledge, but also characteristics and soft skills. Imagine you put three overthinkers that also happen to be introverts in one team – will they ever make a solid desicion?
Digital Latam’s solution
Digital Latam’s leaders believe that the best way of employee/internee motivation is giving them space to self-growth and self-development while indirectly learning about their needs. Team members are free to set their priorities on their own – they are given a task (mostly several tasks at one time, since they are involved in a few projects) and a deadline.
It is their choice whether they deliver the results earlier or on time. They decide the path or way of handling tasks and problems. Managers observe every individual carefully, especially in the first weeks of collaboration. Then, the leaders try to push their subordinates into what they consider is the right direction rather than set strict rules and expectations. An example for that would be giving more responsibilities and power in making decisions for a project.
Once leaders see that an individual gets the hang of the development process and feels comfortable with a project, they give more tasks and shorter deadlines. In this situation the empowered employee feels trusted and needed. They do not want to let their supervisor down, so they’re motivated to give their best. Moreover, Digital Latam’s leaders always give feedback. It can seem obvious and not special at all, but it actually is crucial.
Any form of feedback, whether it is positive or negative, or just a neutral comment gives the employee a feeling of being appreciated. If a person feels that they and their work is acknowledged, they want to show more of their skills in the next tasks or projects. Expressions like” thank you” or “I appreciate your support on this topic” are a key for the employees to want to get to another task, especially for those with high need for affiliation. Even after doing a minor task, one feels appreciated.
Both working and managing a firm from home are big challenges. However, it is the supervisor`s duty to lead and motivate their subordinates. In terms of a small-sized businesses one of the best ways to achieve both is to observe the employees and get to know them on a personal level. Once the managers see individual needs of their subordinates, they can distribute tasks properly and hope for even better results.
Another step in preparing a strong virtual work environment is building trust and showing permanent support and appreciation. Moreover, a key to a successful virtual collaboration is proper communication. Not speaking up about possible problems or obstacles brings chaos and misunderstandings. Employees need to be assured that they can communicate with their managers even about sensitive topics. The deeper the trust between both parties, the better performance can be expected.