The 11 Biggest Challenges of Working Remotely and How to Overthrow Them
It’s not hard to understand why working remotely is favored amongst many. There’s no frustrating commute. There’s no miserably packed lunchbox. There’s no hovering office manager. In fact, there’s no leaving your comfort zone. But, there are some challenges of working remotely.
This is probably why remote work has seen a 91% increase in popularity over the last decade.
However, despite its fans, remote work is not without its challenges. But this doesn’t make remote work any less valuable or desirable.
If you’re managing remote workers, you’ll simply have to learn how to work with these challenges. And in the end, your business will be all the better for it.
Pay attention to find out what exactly the challenges of working remotely are and how you can help your team overcome them.
The 11 Biggest Challenges of Working Remotely
The perks of working from home are generous for those who have been opposed to working in cubicles for the better part of their lifetimes.
But even when you take away the office environment, there’s still work to be done. And likewise, there are still obstacles to completing that work.
Remote work offers unique obstacles just by way of being remote. Many work from home problems that remote workers face stem from not being in proximity with their fellow coworkers and supervisors.
Remote workers are literally left to their own devices. Your job is to identify them and make sure that they are being used correctly.
In other words, by recognizing the challenges of remote working for your employees, you’ll be equipped to manage them effectively.
Below, you’ll be privy to eleven challenges of working remotely and how they are dealt with.
1. Maintaining Team Engagement
One of the most common work from home challenges is staying focused. While most remote workers opt to stay at home to avoid certain nuisances they’ll deal with at work, team engagement can become a hindrance that remote teams need to combat.
The reason for such work from home challenges is rather straightforward. Remote workers feel monotony in their day-to-day schedules and feel isolated from their work.
There are a few things you can do to counteract this:
- First and foremost, determine that your team is familiar and fully in support of your business mission.
- Reasserting the purpose of your work can connect remote workers with the larger goals of the company, which helps them in becoming more fulfilled by their overall role.
- Another idea that might seem out-of-the-box at first is incorporating daily or weekly yoga. Meditation and yoga have been proven to promote focus and engagement. The workplace isn’t alienated from these benefits.
Studies find that people who exercise on workdays are happier and more productive than their counterparts by a margin of 27%. Yoga is especially easy to implement on a virtual platform via video conferencing.
So instead of yelling at your remote workers to get back to work, try doing some backbends with them!
2. Managing Time and Deliverables
Remote workers often have the independence to manage their own time and are able to decide when to get things done.
Some challenges of working remotely include setting deadlines for deliverables and meeting them.
Constant reminders from some boss looming over you and your work can be annoying. This is partly why remote work is much preferred.
Many management tools exist to curb this issue. Trio, for one, uses Trello. Trello’s nice graphical interface utilizes cards to move tasks between people from one step of a project’s development to the next.
3. Sending Feedback to Employees
Giving employees frequent feedback is important in demonstrating a culture of accountability and growth at your company.
Remote workers don’t get the opportunity of being promoted to a larger office in the company building. But self-improvement still fits the bill of challenges of working remotely.
Contrary to popular thought, feedback isn’t always a bad thing. Your feedback needs to be constructive. It can aim to uplift one of your employees so they can feel encouraged to keep at it or it can serve to provide workable critiques.
Remember to take feedback from your remote team as well if you want to establish a truly collaborative and cohesive business structure. Retrospective meetings and/or daily stand-ups can be used to exchange feedback.
4. Keeping Up The Team Morale
When you can’t physically see your team during the day, boosting team morale easily falls into the challenges of working remotely.
Feedback is actually one way to boost team morale, as well as keeping remote workers connected with the goals of the business.
But your team should know that it’s not just about the work for you. Show your remote team that you care about having a healthy work-life balance; it’s not just work and no play. You can do this by planning social activities, virtually of course.
The Internet is vast, so many activities that usually take place in person can happen online. For instance, lunch breaks with the team through video or playing games together through the web require an almost effortless setup.
Celebrating birthdays and milestones for members of the team is equally helpful in keeping up the team morale. Altogether, you want to show remote workers that they’re more than just cogs in the machine.
5. Avoiding Procrastination
Some distractions are more tempting than others. For example, smartphones are a worthy opponent when it comes to mitigating the challenges of working remotely.
Having the burden of a million social media scrolls at your fingertips does not make for the most productive workday.
In a recent study, surveys found that while 70% of people deemed smartphone use to be inappropriate during work, over half of them admitted to doing it anyway.
This is not to say that you should ban smartphones on your team and set up surveillance to make sure employees are following the rules. Freedom is a major asset to working remotely and you shouldn’t be the one to limit that.
In the realm of remote work, sometimes smartphones are even necessary. Instead, present your team with techniques and tools to stay on task.
The Pomodoro timer, as an illustration, is a time management method that has only gotten more popular throughout the years. It involves doing 25-minute sprints of work with five-minute breaks in between. After four sprints, take a larger break.
6. Limiting Security Risks
Security is one of the more silent challenges of working remotely. Even if your remote team is doing everything correctly, external forces can foster ill intent. In turn, your business can be jeopardized.
Some remote workers don’t like the office. But they do like coffee. Remote workers who feel idle at home seek out alternative workspaces in local cafes, parks, libraries, etc.
These new environments increase the likelihood of your remote worker connecting to an insecure network.
There a couple of procedures your team can deploy to reduce security risks:
- Having antivirus software installed across all devices
- Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to make connections
- Installing device trackers
Antivirus software will prevent malware from infecting your computer and data. Cybercriminals typically create malicious software to gain access to your personal information.
VPNs can shadow your IP address, hide your location, and encrypt your data. You can compare it to a firewall that protects the data on your computer. A VPN protects your data on the web.
Device trackers can locate and block the use of equipped devices. If your device is lost or stolen, keeping your device’s data private will be less of a concern.
Together, these practices can hopefully pacify any security problems that remote workers experience.
7. Resisting the Urge to Overwork
Closing the workday in a remote environment is a bit different from merely stepping back from your desk and exiting the building.
Creating strict boundaries for when the workday starts and ends is difficult without any physical indication of either.
At first glance, being an overachiever might seem like one of the more desirable challenges of working remotely. In reality, working too much is never a good thing.
Burnout is real, the effect of which is a physical and/or emotional feeling of overwhelming exhaustion. Trying to work past this will only compromise performance.
And you wouldn’t want this for your remote employees.
Remote team members can avoid working too much by setting calendar appointments for the start and end of their day. Plan breaks too.
Also, if possible, make sure that your workspace and living space are in different places, if not different rooms.
8. Dealing With FOMO
In spite of the habitually bleak and off-white walls of an office, office relationships themselves have some appeal.
The challenges of working remotely are social more often than not. Inside jokes and random after-work outings don’t happen in remote work.
This, unfortunately, has no replacement. But you’ve already read about how to overcome the challenges of working remotely where team morale and engagement are concerned. Those same activities overlap in the solution to this issue.
Communicate with your team and provide opportunities for socializing.
You can go so far as to organize annual retreats or quarterly events so your remote workers get the chance to step outside the virtual world for once.
9. Making Use of the Right Tools
If you’ve read carefully, you’ll notice that many of these suggestions involve the use of some convenient tools on the cloud.
Utilizing this type of software is a fundamental building block in addressing the challenges of working remotely.
The trademarked phrase from Apple, ‘there’s an app for that’ couldn’t be more true in remote work.
You can use Slack for your communication needs or Google Drive for document collaboration. Whichever way, you have tons of options.
Don’t waste them.
10. Creating a Sense of Unity Between Remote Workers
The behavior of 15 multinational corporations revealed four qualities of remote workers that actually made them less likely to work as a team:
When remote workers aligned to this rubric they were strangely negligent in adopting the most practical of team strategies.
Specifically, they failed to share knowledge and resources, learn from one another and help each other, and shift workloads to relieve bottlenecks.
Apparently, internal collaboration doesn’t come easy. It requires an active and invested effort. The same research found how teams of this kind overcome such challenges. Some of the fixes like social activities and team-building exercises you already know.
Just as important, is when people at the executive level support their remote teams through staff development in addition to being role models for how collaborative teams should work.
Normalizing these approaches ultimately creates a sense of unity between remote workers.
11. Improving Team Communication
In an office, walking up to a coworker and asking for some information is some light leg work.
In remote teams, your mileage may vary. Relying on email, for example, could mean waiting several hours for a mere ‘yes or no’ question.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your team in more personal ways, especially if it’s quicker.
Zoom, Slack, and Google Meet are a few of the tools you can use. Do your own research to figure out what works best for your remote team.
How Remote Work Helps Development Projects?
The challenges of working remotely shouldn’t deter you from hiring a remote team. As a matter of fact, remote workers are better for business. This is for a number of reasons.
They get more done in less time. You can credit this to less time spent commuting and workers’ flexibility to develop their own schedule and remove distractions.
The hiring process is not as difficult when it comes to hiring remotely. Your talent pool doesn’t have to be limited to your immediate area.
Overhead costs are also reduced such as:
- Physical office space
- Computers and other machines
- Vending machines and other perks
The stress of in-office work is directly correlated with health. Those who work from home have lower cortisol levels. They’re happier and healthier.
Time management, security, collaboration, and the utilization of cloud tools give a base idea of some of the challenges you’ve learned about throughout this piece.
Many of these problems can be solved with effective communication and some technical savviness.
At Trio, dealing with the challenges of remote work is kind of our thing. We provide remote development to your business transparently and efficiently.
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The challenges of working remotely shouldn’t deter you from hiring a remote team. As a matter of fact, remote workers are better for business. This is for a number of reasons. They get more done in less time. You can credit this to less time spent commuting and workers’ flexibility to develop their own schedule and remove distractions.