Allowing your employees to work remotely has a lot of benefits. Research studies have found that remote workers are healthier, more productive, and have a positive work-life balance than their office counterparts.
Many studies have been conducted on remote working in the past few years, and they’ve found that remote workers take a few days off, are motivated, stick with their companies longer and prioritize freedom over salary increases because they save on commute and other expenses.
Remote work is the business revolution that we need in the 21st century. However, it’s not something that you can implement blindly and hope for the best. Similar to everything in business, there are several disadvantages associated with remote working. Thankfully, there are several strategies and tools that you can use to overcome these challenges and enjoy the benefits of remote working.
Challenges of remote working
Despite all the advantages that remote workers enjoy, employees face several challenges when working remotely. Buffer’s research study found out that the most common problems that remote team members face are loneliness, unplugging after work, distractions, staying motivated, being in different time zones, and communication.
In this article, we will discuss the eight challenges of remote teams that every manager should know. We’ll also include the best solutions to these problems. Let’s get started!
If there is one challenge that you should study and fix from our list, go for communication. It’s at the core of every management issue that you are going to face. Managers should be good at communicating because they have to provide direction at every step of an initiative or project. Effective and efficient communication is at the heart of every high-performing team.
Coordinating remote teams is not the easiest thing to do. Communication can be a major issue for organizations trying to navigate remote hires successfully. When communication is a challenge, work progress becomes slow, and employees can start feeling isolated from the team and the organization.
- Make the best out of technological tools for communication. Chat and instant messaging have made it easier for managers to communicate with their teams, share problems, and solve them effectively.
- Keep communication channels open and monitor their effectiveness consistently. If a team member has a problem or idea that they want to share, you should be available and responsive. Additionally, holding conversations regularly will ensure that they are prepared to work on their tasks smoothly.
- Use project management software such as Trello. Having a central tool for organizing tasks and projects will help everyone stay informed about the progress. You can assign different tasks to your employees, break down projects, and add important comments, to name a few.
- It’s always important to clarify the roles as much as possible. Let your employees know what’s expected of them, how you’ll measure performance, and the resources available, to name a few. Clarifying such things will boost productivity and performance in the long run.
- Finally, after every meeting, it’s important to check for understanding. Ensure that everyone knows what’s expected of them. This is especially important for teams that rely on chat, emails, and calls. Important details can easily get misinterpreted. And this can lead to serious problems.
2. Language and cultural barriers
According to reviews, managing a diverse remote workforce can be challenging, especially in culture and language. These differences affect how team members interact with each other, organize their tasks, and define success. Managers need to navigate these differences to enjoy the perks of a remote team fully.
Remote teams should be aware of management issues like racism and favoritism. This involves preferring specific communication styles or personality types and avoiding the types that are not preferred.
It’s natural for managers to be attracted to employees who use similar processes and have the same work habits. The success of remote teams is based on effectiveness and efficiency. Therefore, managers tend to go with their preferences to complete their tasks quickly.
In the end, this results in resentment and a decline in productivity. The habit of favoritism excludes people from other cultures. And this can limit the number of experienced people that you hire.
- Allow all team members to share their insights and details about their geographical locations and cultures. This will reduce cultural misunderstandings and strengthen relationships.
- Investing in virtual team building will pay off in spades. Establish and nurture relationships between team members to increase productivity, retention, and happiness levels.
3. Lack of accountability
It is difficult for managers to tell whether employees are working or not. Some team members can take advantage of the fact that they don’t have someone looking over their shoulder. Without a tracking system, they may try to cut work time. Managers who use time and attendance software have an easy time tracking their employees.
- Ensuring that all your employees clock in and out or record the total time worked every day will help managers solve this problem.
- Project management software can help managers and employees see which tasks need to be completed and the projects' progress.
4. Lack of trust and cohesion
Face to face interactions build trust and help team members to bond with each other. With a remote team, there is no face to face interactions. And this can lead to a lack of trust and cohesion between you and your team members.
- Managers need to give feedback frequently and address problems as early as possible. This will help team leaders and members to develop trust and bond.
- Prioritize video calls and conferences. Seeing your team members' faces every day is a great solution for managers who can’t meet their employees in person.
- Show your employees that you trust them. And most importantly, keep everyone accountable.
5. Tracking your team’s performance
One common challenge of working remotely is ensuring that everyone performs their duties and responsibilities on time. Some employees will complete all the projects on their schedule, while others will be more engaged for a set number of hours during the day. According to the words of Allan Beigle, the project manager from dissertation writing service at proofreading services Australia, managers may have a hard time ensuring that all tasks are completed and that employees use their time effectively and efficiently.
- Having a system that ensures that communication channels between you, the employee, and customers are open. You need to know if an employee is not meeting the expectations of the customer.
- Employees need to know what’s expected of them all the time.
- Remote teams can come up with a set of rules about how projects should be handled.
- Using productivity software will help you get an idea of what your remote team has been doing all day long.
6. Boosting productivity
Poor productivity is one of the most difficult problems to solve and the worst thing for remote teams. The longer you take to complete your tasks, the more your personal life suffers. Nothing good comes to the unproductive remote worker.
- Avoid multitasking
- Take short breaks during the day
- Eliminate distractions
7. Overcoming distractions
Distractions are the number one killer of productivity. They can make remote working a problem and negatively affect the team’s progress. Since our minds are conditioned to associate our homes with fun and leisure, it’s tough for most people to sit down and work.
- Use productivity apps
- Change your working environment
- Learn to say no
- Plan your day in advance
8. Saying motivated
Staying motivated is another challenge that most remote workers experience. And it mainly stems from being unsupervised. Without having someone monitoring you, it can be difficult to get things done and achieve your goals.
- Set short but realistic deadlines
- Compete with your colleagues
- Eliminate distractions
Managing a remote team successfully can lead to the rapid growth of your business. You need to practice and be patient with your team. Communicate with them regularly. Solve their problems quickly and effectively. And most importantly, learn from your mistakes.