We are operating in difficult times and need to find ways not only to stay connected with our colleagues and clients but also to stay motivated to make these connections and be productive while balancing demands from all angles.
The preponderance and use of digital communication tools such as MS Teams, Zoom, and Cisco Webex as a necessity to stay connected has resulted in a kind of discontent with technology.
More and more, we hear of ‘Zoom fatigue’ or being ‘All Teamed out’ as users express their exhaustion at being tethered to technology in a bid not to be caught out of the loop given that physical connections are no longer the standard. So, how do you stay motivated in this environment?
Here are three (3) ways to encourage connections but also respect digital boundaries in the new normal.
Identify Ways of Working
One of the quickest and easiest ways to maintain motivation from all parties is to establish working norms early on.
Successfully managing projects is a recognition that those parties involved in the project all need to be inducted into the process. A kick-off session identifying ways of working will help define the expectations of the project team.
Some questions to address during such kick-off sessions may include: “Which communication channel is most preferred?”, “How frequently should we check-in as a team?”, “Are there any personal commitments that must be accommodated?” etc.
These types of questions identify and provide a forum early on for project team members to discuss the best practices for the workplace and what is best suited for them.
Being transparent about this early on minimizes the risk of lack of motivation and workplace participation. It also essential to frequently check that these best practices for the workplace are still suitable as things can quickly change or evolve.
Adapt to the change
As mentioned above, frequently checking to see if the workplace practices are still suitable is an essential step in responding to team members’ ever-evolving needs.
Responsiveness to these changes, reassures colleagues that their needs will be accommodated, and this is not to imply that every demand must be met, but that one is willing to adapt to change.
Adaptation may often include things like:
Flexibility for project roles that allow the assistance of other team members or associates who may assist project leads and vice versa; Flexible work hours; as long as project delivery goals are met; and prioritization of multiple tasks due for delivery.
While these actions may not necessarily boost the morale and motivation of the team, they also minimize the risk of burnout from colleagues, the inability to proceed without individual members available, or for considerable bottlenecks to arise, which can cause become a strain to the team.
These actions allow for responsiveness and adaptability to people’s inevitably changing needs and work patterns.
Take it offline
The Offline approach may seem counter-intuitive, given the increased focus and need to work remotely and virtually; however, encouraging teams to spend some time offline is vital to preventing digital fatigue.
Gentle suggestions from project leadership like the three below affirm that ‘switching off’ is ok or the encouragement to recharge with phrases such as:
- “we won’t work on the weekends” or
- “no emails after 6 pm” or
- “block time out in your calendar to have lunch away from your computer,” etc.
These subtle suggestions encourage healthy offline breaks.
These prompts, of project leadership and living up to the same norms and standards, encourages the project teams to follow suit.
Doing this means we are conscious of the emotional, physical, and mental toll that working in a forcibly digital environment has on team members. It is the first step towards creating a genuinely compassionate, collaborative, and human-centered work culture.
All of these things are more important than ever during the current work landscape. We hope that as we return to a sense of ‘normal,’ that humanity and welfare considerations of our colleagues and teammates do not erode.