Five Ways to Make Remote Work a Positive Experience
Shawn Murphy | September 01, 2020
Collaboration, Remote Work3 min read
Remote work can be lonely. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, your leadership is a significant influence on how employees feel about their remote work experience. If you want to achieve more substantial business results – and help people feel more fulfilled and happier with their work – you need to create optimism in the workplace intentionally.
Not the warm-and-fuzzy, puppies-butterflies-and-rainbows kind of optimism, but the kind with a real impact on your bottom line. The kind that increases productivity and profits – and leads to higher retention of your best people and referrals for more great people.
What Is Workplace Optimism?
Most of us are familiar with optimism as an outlook on life – a personal “half-full” approach. That’s not what workplace optimism is, however.
Workplace optimism is the way the environment feels to the people spending 30 to 50 percent of lives at work. This positive feeling gives others hope that good things will come from their hard work. In a positive workplace, people focus on what’s right and what’s possible – rather than being dragged down by idolizing problems and polarizing politics.
While optimism in the workplace doesn’t require all team members to be optimists, this positive approach to work certainly shapes people’s perspectives about their contributions during the workday.
So, what can a leader do to create more optimism for her remote team? Here are five actions that help it emerge. The more of these actions you take, the stronger the feeling of optimism you’ll create in your work environment.
To help employees get past the Industrial Age mindset, we must show – by example – that good results will come from hard work. Help employees understand how their role impacts their customers, colleagues, and the bottom line. Most important, help them tie their work to the company’s mission, so, at the end of the day, they can say, “I did that…I made that happen.”
Lean on Leadership
The best leaders understand how their leadership impacts the work climate. They know people do their best work when the leader actively listens, considers the diversity of opinions around them, and inspires action.
To understand your impact, meet with carefully selected people – employees, colleagues, and mentors – who you believe will be honest with you about your impact. Ask what you do well, and what you should improve. Listen intently. Then, as you seek to deepen your impact, focus on the issues and influences you have control over.
Peter Aceto, author and former CEO of Canada’s Tangerine Bank sets aside the first ten minutes of every meeting to connect with people. He deliberately “wastes” (his word) time, making people smile, having non-work related conversation, and building relationships. This is an important practice for employees who work remotely.
A simple act by a leader like this helps people bond. It makes us more empathetic, tolerant and patient. It helps us work closer together, in a more optimistic fashion. This feeling of relatedness also helps people, as they work together, tackle challenging tasks, or start tough conversations.
To enable positive identity, promote an environment where regular feedback — positive and constructive, formal and informal — is appreciated, even expected. Learn what excites each of your employees in their work and help them experience it more frequently. Develop meaningful relationships with each person on your team and contribute directly to their positive identity.
Today, employees want to make a difference. In fact, in a DeVry study of what Millennials want from their careers, 71 percent said “meaningful work” was at the top of their list. It’s no longer enough for members of today’s workforce to contribute only to goals set by the company. It’s just as important to satisfy one’s own goals and make a difference for others—customers, colleagues, and community.
As a leader, look at the whole person – not just the worker. Help them grow as people. Allow them to spend time supporting causes important to them. And they’ll bring their increased confidence and optimism into the workplace.
Our workday doesn’t have to be a grind. Work doesn’t have to be a drag.
The workplace can be optimistic, even when employees work remotely. But first, today’s leaders must choose to make a difference; they must decide to create a positive, energizing work experience.
Shawn is our Director of Organizational Behavior and Workplace Trends. His second book, Work Tribes is out now. Shawn's first book, The Optimistic Workplace is out now. Inc. has listed him twice as one of the top leadership speakers in America.
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