Remote working is becoming one of the most valuable work strategies in the world. Companies across the globe are discovering that having a remote team is just as effective as working with employees in the office.
However, unlike traditional employees, remote team members come with fewer overheads to worry about, and increased satisfaction levels.
The Global Workplace Analytics report found that remote teams significantly increase satisfaction levels, employee productivity, and cost savings in a company. You can save up to $10,000 with a remote workforce. Plus, you get the benefits of a wider talent pool for your team.
Of course, while remote workers do have their benefits, there are challenges to consider too. Managing a remote team isn’t the same as connecting with staff in-person. Here are some of the main challenges that companies face and how to overcome them.
1. Communication Issues
Effective communication is essential to any functioning business. The better your people can communicate, the easier it is for them to work together on solving problems and accomplishing goals.
Unfortunately, in a remote environment, team members don’t have as many communication options as they have face-to-face.
The good news is that business leaders can strengthen communication in the workforce by investing in team collaboration tools, video conferencing services, and even instant messaging.
Offering multiple modes of communication and ensuring that your people know how to use them improves your chances of team coordination.
It’s also worth having policies in place for how and when your teams should use different communication methods.
For instance, video interactions make sense for in-depth conversations. However, if you just want to check in with a team member, instant messaging might be a better choice.
2. Tracking and Improving Productivity
A supervisor in a standard office environment can easily check-up on employees by walking around the office and seeing what kind of progress they’re making. It’s hard to know if your teams are having trouble with tasks or falling behind on schedules when you’re not in the same space.
A good way to keep the workplace moving according to the right schedule is to invest in tools that allow your employees to track the number of hours they spend on each project.
It may also be worth setting expectations for how much work you expect each person to do every day.
If some of your team members seem to be struggling to accomplish their goals, arrange a meeting where you can discuss why productivity is suffering.
Maybe your employees aren’t sure how to schedule their time properly when working remotely. Perhaps you need to give your team leaders more room to delegate.
3. Lack of Trust
For employees to be committed to an employer, they need to feel a sense of trust and respect for the business. Building a strong relationship with your remote team is crucial because a lack of face-to-face interaction can easily leave employees feeling out of the loop.
In a remote working environment, trust goes both ways. Managers and supervisors need to trust that employees will get work done without someone hanging over their shoulders.
It can help to put working hours and project expectations into some policy documents, so your employees know exactly what you expect from them.
Your team members need to be able to trust you too. This means that if you promise to speak to your contractors during an end-of-month meeting, you can’t just skip it because you don’t feel like setting up your webcam.
It’s also worth making sure that your team members are in the loop with any changes happening in your business. Regular newsletters and updates are great for this.
4. Lack of Company Culture
Company culture is an important concept in many business environments.
Setting a good company culture means showing your audience how you expect them to behave in different circumstances. For instance, you might want a company culture where everyone in your team feels comfortable making suggestions to management or sharing their ideas.
However, it’s harder to build this culture in an environment where your team members never get to interact. Policies that highlight your company’s values and your vision for the future are an excellent way to help company culture thrive.
You can also think of ways that you can encourage positive behaviors in the remote working world. For instance, if you want your employees to feel comfortable coming to you whenever they need help, set a status on your instant messaging tool every day during specific hours for employees to approach you for a quick response.
5. Missing Engagement
Working on your own, miles away from the rest of your team members can be an isolating experience. It’s easy for employees to feel disconnected from other colleagues because they’re not in the same physical space.
If your team members are unhappy because they’re not getting the same experience from remote working as they did in a traditional office, this can cause problems. Unhappy employees, remote or otherwise, can pull down the motivation and productivity of your entire workforce.
Use challenges and gamification to boost engagement again. For instance, encourage employees to compete for the biggest number of closed calls at the end of the month, and reward the person who comes out on top. Assign employees teams and ask them to compete for the best conversion rate.
A little healthy competition is excellent for engaging teams.
Overcoming the Challenges of Remote Work
Remote work is the future of the workplace. As more companies look for ways to keep teams productive and reduce overheads, remote working seems like the obvious way forward.
The good news is that you can tap into all the benefits of a remote workforce, without the downsides.
Overcoming the challenges of remote work, like lost engagement, lack of company culture, or poor communication, is easy when you have the right tips to guide you.
About the author:
Ashley Wilson is a content creator, writing about business and tech. She has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.