4 Biggest Work from Home Challenges Faced By Companies (+ Solutions)
2020 has been the year of remote work. While there were already some organizations embracing remote work culture, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the majority of employees worldwide to work from home.
Even though most employers are still unsure about continuing with remote work as lockdown restrictions are lifted in their area, the fact is, remote work is the new normal. It is the business revolution that will greatly impact organizations and workplaces for years to come.
Remote employees are healthier, more productive, and they also enjoy a better work-life balance, as compared to their office counterparts. Studies have found that when employees work from home, they take fewer sick days, stay in their jobs for longer periods of time, and prioritize freedom over salary hikes.
But even with all the incredible benefits, successfully switching to remote work isn’t a small feat. There are many challenges to overcome, but with the right strategies and remote tools, it’s not impossible.
Here are the top remote work challenges and how you can overcome them.
1. Remote collaboration
Collaboration is the biggest challenge that most remote organizations face. When employees work from the same office, they can interact with each other easily without any limitations.
Whether they want to discuss a particular document or clarify a small query, it is as easy as walking over to their colleague’s desk. However, collaborating with remote team members can be incredibly challenging, especially if you don’t have the right tools with you.
All employees might not be available online at the same time or they may need a lot of context before resolving even the smallest of queries — all of which can end up taking a big chunk of their valuable time.
Moreover, if you still use email most of the time for team communication, it can silo conversations and make it difficult for employees to keep track of everything.
How to overcome it:
- Eliminate email conversations completely and instead introduce a collaboration tool to streamline remote team communication. You need a tool that is instant, flexible, and responsive.
- Moreover, the communication tool should already have project management features or integrate closely with your existing project management tool so that employees can easily collaborate and ask queries without having to explain context over and over again.
2. Employees working from different locations and time zones
By offering remote work as a perk, organizations also gain the ability to recruit talented individuals from across the world, without any location constraints. But the downside of this incredible perk is that you end up with a distributed workforce with employees working from different time zones and locations.
Add this to the freedom that remote workers need to make their own schedule and you might end up with employees who all work independently at different times of the day. While remote employees may be skilled at working on their own, they still need to collaborate with other team members to work effectively and contribute to the overall team goals. Also, finding a common time to schedule routine team meetings or 1:1 meetings would become an absolute nightmare for everyone.
How to overcome it:
- Encourage asynchronous communication for all non-urgent discussions and create guidelines for the same detailing maximum response times so that employees can have smooth conversations despite time zone differences.
- Synchronous communication should only be reserved for regular team meetings and important/urgent conversations.
- Create a shared calendar with details about every team member’s time zones and working hours to make it easier to schedule meetings.
3. Building and maintaining trust
There are some obvious trust issues which can arise in remote teams that don’t get enough face to face interactions. In fact, over 52 percent of remote employees feel that their team is less trustful of them and often leaves them out of big discussions when they work from home.
Many managers also find it difficult to trust their remote team members because, unlike physical offices, they can’t see remote employees working right in front of them. But continuous mistrust from managers can actually end up demotivating employees and make them feel left out which can directly affect their work.
How to overcome it:
Trust is a two-way street. If you want employees to trust you, then you need to trust them as well.
- Organize virtual team building sessions so employees can get to know each other on a personal level and build a social bond
- Use collaboration tools that promote transparency and accountability so you don’t have to constantly reach out to employees to get status updates
- While it’s good to check in with team members once in a while, avoid micromanagement
- Lead by example and show team members that you are willing to trust them in order for them to trust you
4. Creating a culture of remote work
When employees don’t get to have enough face to face interactions with their colleagues, managers, and company leaders, establishing and maintaining company culture can become a big challenge.
Remote employers get fewer opportunities in developing a sense of camaraderie with their coworkers and they also have less visibility about the company’s overall missions and values. This can in turn make some employees feel lonely, isolated, and dissatisfied with their roles which will not only decrease employee engagement but also employee retention rate.
How to overcome it:
- Ask remote employees to come into the office once in a while so they build better relationships with office counterparts and get a better understanding of company culture
- All office meetings should be held virtually even if only one or two team members are working remotely so as to not leave anyone out
- Organize virtual team games and activities to create more opportunities for informal interactions
- Use company-wide communication channels to share details about the company’s mission and values, recognize employees for their great work, and provide regular business updates.
Remote work has its challenges, but it is the future
Despite all the challenges to working from home, remote work is incredibly rewarding for both organizations and employees, as long as you know what you are getting yourself into and how to overcome the most common problems. Once you successfully get through the first few hiccups, you will be able to improve the efficiency, productivity, and work-life balance of your employees.
To make your transition to remote work easier and get through the usual challenges, you can implement a unified digital workplace in your organization instead of using more than a dozen SaaS tools for different purposes, which will only add to your problems and make things more confusing.
Kissflow is a digital workplace that incorporates all the important components you need to successfully manage a remote workforce including dedicated communication channels, project management, case management, file sharing, access controls, and third-party integration. It is an all-in-one application that allows employees to work closely together even when they are working from home.