Your Remote Workforce Faces These Struggles Every Day
Before COVID, many of us had an idealistic view of what working remotely might look like. We imagined it would be super comfortable and all the annoyances and stresses of the workplace would just evaporate. However, the old warning to be careful what you wish for turned out to be good advice when the challenges of remote work showed up almost from day one.
Those remote work challenges can cause job performance and employee engagement to plummet at a time when businesses need them to give their best. The savvy manager seeks to understand what workers are going through to prevent potential problems before they occur. Here’s what to look out for.
Most of your staff wakes up every morning genuinely intending to give 100 percent, to be their best at what they do. The problem is, with remote work, there’s a lot more flexibility with when and how they do that work. Sometimes life causes those good intentions to quickly fade.
So while they mean to be hard at work by 9:00 every morning, they linger just a little longer on social media with that last cup of coffee. Their boss isn’t there to notice, so what’re a few extra minutes? When 10:00 rolls around and their neighbor stops by, they step outside and visit. An hour lunch break turns into two.
They have much less guidance and feedback from administrators. They also don’t receive encouragement for work well done. Motivation dwindles.
Managers can help remote workers overcome these challenges with suggestions like these:
- Invest in reliable tools for collaboration
- Set clear standards for what remote work and productivity looks like on a daily basis and how you’ll measure their progress
- Check-in weekly to talk through projects, challenges and upcoming deadlines one on one
- Ask employees to post and stick to set hours, and do the same with your own schedule
- Give encouragement and praise publicly over company channels
Limited Information Access
In the on-site workplace, it’s much easier to collaborate, and employees are less hesitant to reach out. When you know Susan and Mike are working on your project right down the hall, you just walk down and ask for the information you need. But if they are both in separate remote locations and you’re not sure what their schedule is like, you put off “bothering” them.
Critical data might be unavailable. Not all businesses provide secure remote access to their organization’s internal network. If employees can’t access the programs, records, and data they need to work, progress bogs down while they wait for someone on-site to send them what they need.
Progressive IT Services can help you provide secure remote access to every employee that needs it so the work can get back to full speed ahead.
Loneliness and Isolation
One of the biggest challenges of remote work creeps up slowly, almost unnoticed until suddenly it has the power to severely diminish drive and productivity. Isolation causes loneliness, and it begins to permeate everything your employees do.
In recent months we haven’t just stopped interacting with people at the office, we’ve pulled back from many of the social interactions we used to have on a regular basis. Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2020 report says 20 percent of remote workers said loneliness was their biggest struggle.
When people aren’t connected to their organization, they feel like they don’t belong. Managers can help by checking in regularly. When you have online meetings, take time to encourage conversation. Also, check out these tech tools that can help keep your team connected.
Interruptions and Distractions
Schools and daycares across the nation closed. Summer camps, if they’re open, have limited capacity. Some parents have to try to get remote work done with children underfoot.
In many families, more than one adult is working from home, and they don’t each have a separate home office. Their needs, conversations, and activities overlap. It’s harder to focus, harder to hear.
It’s also a bigger challenge to stay on task. In the office, the whole environment is built around accomplishing organizational goals. Employees can’t decide to take the dog for a walk when they’re at the office. There’s no temptation to finish the series they started binge-watching the night before.
Managers can help when they address the problem head-on. Hold a frank discussion about interruptions and distractions while working remotely and help each employee find ways to stay productive. Some ideas might include the following:
- Play white noise or background music to increase focus
- Break work into batches and use a timer to work in spurts
- Create a calendar that helps you visualize projects and sends alerts when important deadlines are approaching
- Know when to turn off notifications for social media or personal messaging
How Progressive IT Services Can Help
The world changed overnight, then just kept on changing. No matter how unpredictable the current economic landscape gets, Progressive IT Services is here to support businesses in the Greater Houston Metroplex in every way we can.
We can help you provide secure remote access for employees so they can stay productive from anywhere in the world. We offer software, implementation, and training, guides for turning remote work into permanent success and tips on building an effective remote work culture. Schedule a consultation to find out how we can help you solve every single one of the top challenges for remote work.