Remote working gained importance and has become the new normal since 2020. Over the last year and a half, more companies have been adopting this style of working. This mode of working has its advantages: flexible work hours, working from the comfort of home, reduced stress, and more time for family, to name a few. But remote working has its challenges too.
A report by the United Nations International Labour Organization stated that while employees are more productive when they work outside the office, they end up working long hours when they work from home. They work at an intense pace, experience greater interference from home, and in certain cases, get more stressed.
Let us take a look at some of the challenges of remote working and their simple solutions.
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Challenges of Remote Working
- Feeling Isolated
With the house suddenly getting transformed into an office, the feeling of isolation crops up. While working in an office, you get opportunities to converse, celebrate, grab a cup of coffee, or have lunch outings with colleagues. These are absent when you work from home. Over time, when you focus all your energy on work alone, you do not bond well or build relationships with your colleagues. This could make you feel disconnected and isolated.
Tips to overcome isolation:
- Messaging tools such as MS teams, Zoom, or Slack are effective in checking on your teammates, sharing memes and stories.
- Tools like Go-game and Scavify help build virtual relationships with your remote team.
- Other tools such as Donut and Icebreakers help you know and befriend your colleagues.
- Apps such as Bonusly, Disco, and EngageWith allow you to give credits and thank each other.
- Engagement tools such as 15five, Assembly, and Culture Amp keep team members engaged.
- Managing Projects
The biggest challenge of working outside the office is managing projects and deadlines. Whether the entire staff is working from home or it is a combination of in-house and remote staff, managers have to make sure goals are achieved, and deadlines are met. With the absence of face-to-face communication, it becomes difficult to track individual tasks, especially if the team is bigger.
Tips for managing projects:
- Tools such as Evernote and Ideakeep are useful for taking and sharing notes with the team. These tools make project management efficient.
- Tools such as Idone This and Weekdone help you set goals for the team and manage how it’s going.
- Zoom, Meet, and Slack can be used to set up One-on-1 meetings with employees.
- Standups, Standuply and Troopr help you sync with your teams.
- You can use virtual whiteboard tools such as Meindmesiter, Ideaflow, and MURAL to come together as a team to brainstorm ideas.
- Absence of Work Structure
Remote working also brings in another challenge: The absence of a work structure. Keeping everything on track with varying tasks, deadlines, communication styles, and priorities becomes extremely challenging. Running the entire process without any glitches can be onerous. To be productive in such a situation, you need clear objectives. At the same time, structuring the work can be tricky. When you manage project deadlines on your own, it becomes quite a task to prioritize your projects.
Tips for managing work structure:
- Project management tools such as Trello, Basecamp, Teamwork, and Wrike help you organize and manage projects.
- Employee tracker software such as Flowtrack, Toggl, and Clockify allows you to track time to maximize efficiency.
- If you wish to sit with your team and discuss a project, you can use Google Calendar, Calendly, and Workato. This will help you schedule meetings and review important milestones.
- You could also use screen-sharing tools like CoScreen, Screen, and USE together to collaborate and work.
- Overcoming Distractions
Every remote worker tends to get distracted often and procrastinates work. While working from home, you could be distracted with chores at home that demand your attention. These include cleaning, washing dishes, etc. Sometimes, visitors may come over without intimation, or your family could have expectations from you because you are at home. All these can hurt your productivity.
Tips to overcome distraction:
- When you work from home, you need to create a workspace for yourself to work without distractions. Avoid working in the bedroom or couch as your brain associates these places with sleep.
- Turn off your phones and keep your social media activity to a minimum.
- Use tools such as Freedom, Limit, and WasteNoTime to block Websites that hamper your productivity.
- Coordinate with family members to schedule and divide chores.
- Use tools such as Noisli and Krisp to cut out background noise and work peacefully.
- Overworking and Unplugging
People who work remotely tend to overwork and end up compromising on rest and sleep. This could lead to exhaustion and reduced private time.
Tips to prevent overwork:
- Use employee monitoring software to limit work to 8 productive hours a day.
- Prioritize tasks to keep up with the deadlines.
- Set the alarm to finish tasks and remember to take breaks between work.
- Tackling Technology Issues at Home
Working remotely also brings in challenges that are beyond our control. These include technology issues poor network connectivity. These can be quite frustrating.
Tips for tackling technology issues at home:
- Research to understand the relevance of new apps you use.
- Use the right tools and updated apps.
- Reimburse internet costs for employees to enable them to access high-speed connectivity.
- Store a backup of your work files on your personal computer.
- Identify places close to home with good network connectivity for emergency use.
While we have listed some of the tried and tested solutions to overcome the challenges with your remote workforce, what you will also need is a sophisticated HRMS platform like HRAPP to simplify your HR processes. Solutions like HRAPP offer an integrated approach to HR management and empower your HR team to monitor and track the productivity of your remote workforce.
Remote Work Is Here to Stay
Remote working is here to stay. It can be quite challenging, but it is quite rewarding too. Anticipate problems that could crop up. Working remotely can give you autonomy, flexibility, and improved productivity if you know how to handle them. Besides, if you plan it well, you can get enough time outside work to spend with your family, enough rest, and a good work-life balance.