July 6, 2020

Finding Motivation Working from Home

Motivation comes naturally when working in an office. With your colleagues around you, you can’t help but be swept up in the team atmosphere. Knowing you are all on the same side and working towards the same goal is something I love about working in an office.  For that reason, home working has never been something that’s appealed to me. Sure, it’s great for a work life balance and being able to have full control over your day, but I’ve always worried that I’d be lonely and a little bit demotivated.

The interesting twist in this story is that I work in a team of two, one of us being remote (Kathryn), and the other (me!) working within the office. I guess you could say we both work remote from each other, but I still have the office environment surrounding me during the working week. The remote aspect has never once negatively affected our relationship, but I wasn’t sure if this was indicative of all remote relationships or just a lucky coincidence.

When COVID-19 reached a point whereby we had no choice but to work from home, I was half relieved that we were able to do our bit and follow government guidelines, but I also had reservations that I would soon become fatigued with not being within the atmosphere of the office. I knew that my relationship with Kathryn would be unaffected, as our relationship for almost a year has been built on a remote dynamic. Kathryn has worked from home for many years so this would be no change for her, but she would now be working with a whole team of remote workers, which in itself could bring its own challenges.

No sooner than turning my computer on the following day, the messages of ‘morning’, and ‘does anyone need support?’ came flooding in. Then it dawned on me, that being remote doesn’t mean you have to be disconnected, it just means you need to make a more conscious effort to stay in contact and get that ‘office atmosphere’.

The conversations around a cup of tea have been replaced with the odd instant message to check in and see how people are doing,

Working from home has now started to become the norm, but with the current restrictions in the country, I am unable to do some of the activities that I used to do to break up the week.  Apart from my daily exercise, I struggle with the idea of being homebound for so long, and I was concerned this may start to have an impact on my motivation levels.  Kathryn and I were discussing this, and it prompted us to revisit a quiz we recently designed; so, to see how we could adapt the situation to best motivate us, Kathryn and I decided to take the HR Go! ‘What Motivates You’ quiz.

There are 10 short multiple-choice questions you need to respond to, which when complete provides you with a synopsis to capture the types of things which motivate you. I took my time and where there were questions which I could provide two answers for, I chose the one that seemed best in the moment.

Below are our findings:

Rach

The quiz result told me that I was ‘Challenge and autonomy driven’ although I have strong connections to ‘People and creativity driven’.

I can certainly see competitive elements in myself. You can lift that; I can lift more. You can get 70%; I bet I can get 80%, you can eat 2 biscuits; I bet I can finish the pack!’

Whether it’s competing against someone else, or just competing with myself, competition is a definite motivator for me to get stuff done, and have fun doing it. But how do I compete when there’s no one else to compete against?

Here are the plans I’ve put in place:

Set myself a list
I start the day with a list of tasks to accomplish. Providing all runs as it should, I can get these done. From there I can see getting the jobs done as a goal. Anything I can get completed over and above the listed items show I am exceeding the goal which adds to the competitive aspect.

Learner feedback
Hearing positive feedback from learners is a real motivation in completing good, consistent work. Having a learner say they enjoyed a session is a little bit like getting a mini medal and really makes me want to keep improving my skillset in order to benefit their experience.

Become inspired by others
One of the websites that I frequent is Elearningheroes, it’s a forum and depository of all things e-learning and Storyline related.  One of the regular activities on here is a weekly challenge whereby Storyline users upload projects they have made in Articulate Storyline. Sometimes I’ll see an interaction that will inspire me to use something similar within a e-learning module,  but I’ll look at ways I can improve it first.

Seeing the end in sight
The move from classroom training to purely virtual delivery was a necessity in order to benefit our learners and keep them on track with their qualifications. Thankfully we started to implement measures before lockdown, meaning we had a leg up. Although we do have a fully online HR programme, the majority of our programmes are blended and do involve elements of face to face delivery. We gathered a long list of face to face workshops needing conversion into robust and engaging digital delivery.  The project plan was daunting given the limited time scale, but by focusing on the end point and breaking it up into manageable chunks, helps to maintain my focus on what we’re doing and why. After all Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a DPG virtual delivery day!

Kathryn

I came out of the ‘What motivates you?’ quiz as ‘People and creativity driven’, although on previous occasions I have also come out as ‘Challenge and autonomy driven’ and so feel I have a combination of both influences on my motivation. It makes sense to focus on ‘People and creativity driven’ as that was today’s result and of course it allows me to focus on ways of working and tips for motivation that differ and can be used hand in hand with those identified by Rach.  These are the ways in which I work with my key motivators:

Staying connected
It’s vital to stay and feel connected, both via formal work meetings and informal catch ups. Informal catch ups might include some work-related aspects, but also a cuppa and sharing of home and family life too. For example, Rach’s partner Hay comes on video and says good morning and has a chat, whilst my husband routinely calls ‘Morning Rach’ when we are on our morning catch up. My 13-year old daughter has built a lovely remote relationship with both Rach and Hay based on their shared love of drawing and anime.

Sharing ideas
In our work, we are constantly generating and sharing ideas – this could include work practices, or be project based. It’s important we have an outlet/platform for this. We use Slack as one of our main communication and collaboration tools, and there are often messages between us which begin with ‘Oooh I’ve just had a thought…’ or ‘What do you reckon to…’ which are crucial in keeping our creative side buoyant. These comments are things we often come back to when we get together for a virtual chat.

Social
Whilst planned meetings for work are required, for me spontaneity on the social side is important though can be trickier to achieve when everyone is working remotely. That said, unplanned catch ups and get togethers are essential and Rach and I do this a lot. These can be triggered by work – rather than reading a document sent, we may open a Zoom meeting, share screens and chat through the document over a coffee. Or if either one of us has a natural pause, is not feeling productive or just in need of some human contact, then a virtual cuppa tends to be our answer. ‘Zoom… cuppa…?’ is another common message between us on Slack. We both enjoy some fun in our days and we usually laugh at something during these informal sessions which helps get us through.

In conclusion
Everyone is motivated by something, be it big or small, there is a driver that makes you sit up and push through even the hardest of situations.

The things that motivate you are likely to be personal and independent of the key motivators of others. Some may be inspired by making a difference, whereas others may be motivated by a challenge, or creating a seamlessly accurate piece of work. The motivator itself isn’t important, it’s how you use it that counts.

Knowing what your motivator is can help you approach work positively and get the best out of your efforts. Knowing you are working to the best of your ability with a clear goal in mind can work wonders for you and your project.

Why not find out what helps you and your team go that extra mile, it might be the missing ingredient to engage your coworkers and the positive difference it makes to your work life may surprise you.

Why not find out what motivates you by using our ‘What motivates you?’ quiz on the DPG Community?