Most of the employees working from home seem to enjoy their working arrangements, with 77 percent even claiming that they feel more productive. The trend seems to keep rising, even though some companies have called their employees back to the office. However, remote work is not all milk and honey. Employees working from home also have to face a series of challenges.
Tackling remote work challenges
As a team leader managing a remote or a hybrid team, you will have to learn how to tackle the most common remote work challenges faced by your team members.
We put together a guide to help you through this endeavor. Here are the most common remote work challenges and some advice on how you can help employees overcome them.
1 Social isolation
Many employees working from home have a hard time adjusting to the lack of social interaction. This is especially rough for extroverts who get energized by engaging with other people.
Fortunately, team communication apps such as Hubgets offer plenty of opportunities for online socializing. Team leaders can open topics unrelated to the work itself and encourage people to share stuff and talk about their day.
Some companies go even further and organize virtual events. The company sends party packages to each employee, to be opened at the same time, during an informal video conference. In the case of pizza evenings, the team leader orders pizza to arrive at the same time to all of their team members. They then enjoy eating together and sharing fun stories.
Here’s a short guide with Strategies to Combat the Loneliness of Remote Workers.
2 Access to information
Working remotely sometimes makes it harder for employees to access the information they need and stay up to date with all the changes.
This obstacle can be overcome by proactive team leaders, and efficient use of technology. Make sure you implement protocols for sharing documents, announcing changes, and real-time collaboration.
Establish daily check-ins with your team and have an open-door policy. Encourage your team members to reach out at any time if they have questions.
More on how to communicate with your remote team with these 4 Effective Communication Techniques for Remote Work.
3 Technology issues
Most people working remotely use their own hardware equipment, and their home internet connections. Sometimes, this poses all kinds of issues, from unreliable networks to hardware malfunctions. This can slow down the work process and cause tremendous stress to everyone.
Companies can avoid all these challenges by providing their employees with everything they need for the job. Work laptops, reliable software, and even backup internet connection.
4 Distractions and interruptions
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is the great number of distractions you have to face during the day. Household chores, kids running around, pets deciding to show up in the middle of an important call and many more unexpected situations.
There isn’t much you can do to avoid all of these. There are some measures you can implement to make sure that they don’t happen frequently:
- Ask your team members to organize a dedicated workplace in their house, with restricted access for pets and kids;
- Lobby with the management to provide employees with benefits such as daycare vouchers;
- Encourage people to take regular breaks to set their home affairs in order, therefore minimizing the interruptions during deep work periods.
Last, but not least, you have to be flexible and accept that things like these just happen. Unless someone’s work is visibly affected, employees should not be penalized for such small inconveniences.
Instead, help them and help yourself in Managing your Schedule Like a Pro, the Remote Work Edition.
5 Work-life balance
Working and living in the same space can blur the boundaries between the two, leading to a poor work-life balance. Employees end up skipping breaks and working long hours to make up for the small interruptions that might appear during the day. Eventually, that can lead to burnout, lack of motivation, and plummeting productivity.
As a team leader, it’s in your power to prevent that by establishing clear expectations:
- Provide some flexibility, so people won’t feel like they have to make up for every toilet break they take between the formal breaks;
- If possible, allow people to make their own schedules to fit their personal lives;
- Be results-oriented in the favor of the employee. This means that if someone finishes their daily tasks in a shorter time, they may have some extra free time. However, if they take longer than the duration of the workday, discourage them from working after hours, and allow them to continue the next day.
Employees with a healthy work-life balance are happier and more productive, so it is always in your best interest to help them achieve that.
6 Workplace burnout
Working from home seems to take an unexpected toll on employees’ mental health. No less than 69 percent of remote employees experienced burnout symptoms while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burnout can be caused by a variety of reasons, but it is mostly a result of accumulated stress. Workplace burnout is characterized by low energy levels, lack of motivation, and negative feelings toward the job.
Team leaders can help their team members avoid burnout by implementing a series of measures meant to alleviate stress:
- Encouraging a healthy work-life balance (see above);
- Regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings;
- Fair and equitable demands;
- Mandatory time off.
Experienced team leaders can read the signs that signal a possible burnout among their team members and take emergency measures to prevent that from happening.
A short guide on How to Avoid Work Burnout and Stay Productive when WFH.
It’s worth the hassle!
Even though working remotely comes with all of these challenges, they can all be overcome with a bit of patience and flexibility.
Encourage employees to foster a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout, provide them with the right tools for the job, and encourage collaboration and social interaction.