5 Ways to Keep Everyone’s Morale High While Working from Home


As COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus, spreads around the world, ever more people are stuck spending more time trapped at home.

Some staffers — especially those who are older or have underlying health issues that make them especially vulnerable to the virus — might be home due to a decision to self-quarantine. Other regions are on complete lock-down.

And some offices, notably GoogleOpens a new window , have implemented a company-wide work-from-home policy.

If your company has instituted a partial or complete remote working policyOpens a new window in order to slow the spread of the virus, it may come as a significant adjustment to some employees. People are accustomed to the natural boost that comes from interacting with colleagues, even in the casual and brief encounters at the coffee machine or proverbial water cooler.

Meetings and lunches, run-ins in the lobby or hallway are often where spontaneous ideas flourish or where people get socially rejuvenated to return to their work with renewed energy or perspective.

Working from homeOpens a new window is tough on anyone. The things that initially look like perks, such as unsupervised and constant access to the snack bar, can start to become a psychological drag. It’s difficult to retain the kind of discipline that allows people to be as productive as they are when in a social setting. But it’s certainly not impossible.

And with the right kinds of tips, people can continue feeling engaged. The most important thing is to keep morale high and stay focused on the goal. This, too, shall pass. In the meantime, there’s no harm in trying to enjoy some of the benefits.

Be in touch

One aspect that’s often lost when all workers are remote is the natural sense of camaraderie that springs from a shared goal and shared conditions. Those shared goals won’t disappear just because work is happening differently.

But now people will be dealing with much different working conditions. Staying in constant touch about work-adjacent topics is a good way to create the sense of shared conditions. Send out a daily newsletter every morning at the start of the day with topics related to working from home, creating a conversation around the conditions that are shared.

Keep a sense of humor

These are difficult times, for sure, and it’s appropriate to acknowledge that. But maintaining a sense of humor is an important means to keep group solidarity and spirits up. It’s okay to include a humorous tone in daily communication, especially around topics related to the new reality.

Stay respectful, don’t make jokes about the seriousness or levity of the virus itself and colleagues will appreciate the opportunity to smile or roll their eyes.

 Share tips

In some ways, the office space has expanded to include all the spaces where colleagues are working remotely. Just as you would issue suggestions about making the office a good space for working, so can you send out tips for working from home.

Recipes for easy lunches, little exercise routines that can be done inside, ideas for keeping restless kids entertained while staying productive — these are all tips that employees can make use of.

Encourage video conferences

One important way to maintain a productive and professional attitude while working from home is to make an effort to prepare for the day in the same way that you would if you were going into the office. While it might be tempting to start working in pajamas (or less), in the long run it can chip away at self-confidence.

Video conferences, especially those scheduled in the morning, are a great way to bolster social interaction while also subtly encouraging people to get dressed and fix their hair.

Establish check-ins

Ask managers and team leaders to make a point of calling people just to check in, without a specific agenda or question in mind. This is especially useful to do in the afternoon, when the long hours are starting to turn into an invitation for distraction.

If managers are reticent to waste time chatting, remind them how much other time they have saved — spending five minutes on the phone with 10 people is likely the equivalent of one commute they aren’t taking anymore.

Managers can also take advantage of the chat to remind employees casually to make sure they sign off at the end of the day. Working from home shouldn’t be an invitation to work around the clock.