Remote working is hardly a new concept, and with the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s become more prevalent than ever before. For many people, working remotely was the dream lifestyle—working from anywhere in the world with a considerable degree of freedom and flexibility. However, the reality is that it takes a lot of self-discipline and effort to stay connected to your team.
For managers, there are also plenty of challenges. Successfully ensuring teams work as a cohesive unit that completes projects to spec and on time is just one of them.
It’s clear that in the era of the mobile workforce, everyone—from the leaders to the most junior employees—faces challenges. Staff at every level have to make adjustments.
To operate successfully, knowing what the most significant obstacles are is a great help. By tackling these 12 stumbling blocks, employees and managers can work remotely with greater success.
The first issue that comes up is internet connectivity. While most people will have some form of internet or mobile data connection for their home life, it’s unlikely that it’s suitable for most work situations. It’s crucial for the company to ensure that everyone has a stable, reliable internet connection that’s fast enough to deal with the demands of their job.
2. Access To Information And Systems
Another stumbling block is often access to company software or systems, as well as the data that’s traditionally kept on a company server. If you want work to continue as normal, you need to ensure that employees have seamless access to the data and systems they need to operate. A lot of frustration and downtime occurs when employees have to wait for access. Migrating data to the cloud is a sure-fire way to improve access issues—just make sure access is secure.
3. Physical Wellbeing
Employees have proper desks and office chairs in the office, which they’re unlikely to have at home. When people sit for long hours working at unsuitable tables and sitting on chairs that aren’t designed for the purpose, it causes all kinds of issues. Headaches, backaches, and spinal misalignment are the most common. See if you can assist your employees with setting up a home office conducive to the hours they need to spend at their desks.
4. Tracking Productivity
Keeping track of who’s working on what and how efficient they’re being is a lot harder when your team isn’t all in the same space. Being spread out across different cities, time zones and even countries can make a manager’s job a lot harder. Investing in a proper project management tool like Trello or Slack will help keep everyone on track. Remote working software can also be a reliable ally in tracking productivity, giving you detailed insight into the way your remote employees spend their working hours.
5. Scheduling Work And Meetings
On the topic of being spread across different spaces, this can make scheduling a nightmare. It’s essential to be mindful of who’s based where and how often you ask people to meet outside of regular working hours. Try to rotate schedules so that the same employees aren’t always put out with timings in team meetings.
6. The Ability To Collaborate
The loss of being able to sit in the same room and work on a project or troubleshoot assignments is a big one for remote workers. Figuring out how to collaborate when you can’t be in the same room is one of the hardest parts of leaving the office.
Every company needs to have a central system for communication so that conversations are easily held and tracked. Slack, Google Meet and Drive, or Microsoft Teams, and Office 365 are all great tools for this.
7. Communication Concerns
Collaboration isn’t the only problem with not being in the same office. Just general communication can take a lot more work between employees when they’re all working remotely. You can no longer pop over to someone’s desk to see how they’re getting on or ask a question.
You either need to type out a message in chat or email or send them a message to ask if they’re available for a quick call. It all seems a lot more invasive or less effective than before. It’s important to ensure that employees know how to get in touch with each other and with their team leaders if they need to.
8. A Lack Of Trust
Trust between employees and managers is harder to maintain when you aren’t in the office together. It’s vital to be as transparent as possible with each other on what’s expected, what work is being done by others, and what boundaries are in place to protect employees.
9. The Loss Of Face Time
With the massive uptake in video conferencing over the last two years, it seems strange to say that face time is an issue. However, a video call is not the same as being in the same room and talking to someone. It’s easy to feel isolated and alone when you work remotely. Business leaders need to ensure that employees still feel connected, heard, and acknowledged.
10. Interpreting Signals Properly
Because a lot of communication takes place via chat or email when working remotely, it’s very easy for signals to get crossed or to misinterpret the tone of a message. Be sure to put strict protocols in place for communication—and encourage the use of emojis to convey meaning between staff members.
11. Staying Motivated
Being at home all day can lead to a loss of work motivation, as the home environment is usually a lot more relaxed than the office. Setting goals for work each day and each week can help ensure you stay on track and don’t let tasks slide. Employees can do this for themselves, or managers can make it part of their weekly schedule.
12. Minimizing Distractions
Another major disadvantage to being at home all day is the risk of distraction. Putting on a quick load of laundry instead of getting that email finished becomes too easy. Everyone should set specific times for working and specific times for getting household chores done.
Managers can monitor employees’ times and hold them accountable, and time tracking software or apps can also ensure that distractions don’t take over.
Conquering Challenges As A team
Working remotely has had a significant impact on lifestyles across the globe. To successfully navigate working as a mobile team, employees and managers must tackle challenges head-on, realize the importance of collaboration, transparency, and accountability, and retain a strong connection.
Working remotely will form part of our future, and knowing how to navigate it will lead to growth and success.