Motivating employees is a real challenge 

Stress and motivation are two major problems in many companies. Decades were filled with research on the impacts of stress in the workplace and how job pressures influence motivation.  Workplace stress can be caused by a number of factors, including job insecurity, work overload, lack of control over one’s work, and a lack of social support. Unfortunately, leaders often feel encouraged to use the carrot versus stick approach for motivation, where the carrot is a reward for compliance and the stick is a consequence for noncompliance.

Neverthless, we can’t expect others to be motivated to do what we want them to do when we aren’t motivated ourselves, right? So why not consider a different way to motivate employees?

A couple of days ago, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, announced on Twitter that Airbnb’s employees are allowed to live and work from anywhere. Chesky also laid out the key features of how their plan will actually work, along with their beliefs as a company. Intentional, recurring team gatherings for cohesion & collaboration despite remote working.

The new dialogue embraces the key concept that motivation is less about employees doing great work and more about employees feeling great about their work.

The more satisfied employees feel about their work, the more motivated they remain over time. We can motivate employees by engaging in a new and meaningful dialogue about the work instead…

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Here’s how shared offices can help motivate coworkers:

  • Communities add purpose. An understanding that their work matters and is relevant to someone or something other than a financial statement is a strong motivation for employees. Start by sharing context about work your coworkers are practicing. We are as a team and we are as an organization. Why are we doing it? What are the objectives for our community and each coworker? 
  • Workspaces enable progress. Like when you ask any team members for help, they will undoubtedly encounter roadblocks and challenges along the path to success. It’s important to recognize that challenges can materially impact motivation. They will help identify and address the problems that they have identified. The trouble with memory or an inability to concentrate, however, can make a coworker’s job difficult or cumbersome. What can you do to help relieve the burden? What roadblocks might surface? Coworkers are motivated when they can make progress without unnecessary interruption and undue burdens – that’s our coworking strategy.
  • People show recognition. Everyone works harder if they feel appreciated. Leaders consistently underestimate the power of acknowledgement to bring forth employees’ best efforts. What have been the key achievements in this area? What unexpected or exceptional results have been realized? Who has gone beyond the call of duty to help a colleague or meet a deadline? A customer service representative has provided great service or support to a customer in crisis. Who “walked the talk” on your values in a way that sets an example for others and warrants recognition? Recognition and appreciation motivate your coworkers to work harder and being committed to your community. 
  • A reminder to check in with yourself. What if you’ve done all of the above but are still struggling to motivate others? You may need to assess your own motivation. A leader who cares about the work will have an immediate impact on employees. If the community manager is not engaged and enthusiastic about its space, the team, or the work you do, it’s unlikely that you’ll be a great motivator for others (Learn here how) Often however they find their work enjoyable, adding impact and energy to others.

    If you don’t have the pleasure or freedom working from a shared office I suggest:

  • Discuss how the work your team does affects your customers every day. Give your employees the tools they need to solve problems. Thank your employees for their efforts on a regular basis. Connect with your own motivation and share it freely with your team. Have meaningful conversations instead and work together on work-life balance. You’ll be well on your way to leading a highly motivated team.