7 Biggest Work from Home Challenges Faced By Companies (+ Solutions)

• Digital Workplace,Remote Work

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 (WFH Meaning).

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.

Work From Home Challenges

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[1], 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 work from home challenges and how you can overcome them.

1. Collaboration While WFH

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 remote 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 remote 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.
☛ Check Out Best Practices OF Working From Home

5. Managing remote teams

Managing employees working from home is an entirely different ball game that requires a radically different approach to team management. Building a culture of trust, eliminating micromanagement, allowing for more freedom and taking a more agile approach to work is highly important to successfully manage employees working from home.

It is a common mistake to assume that managing remote teams is not so different from managing teams working out of the office. This is also the first roadblock managers face when their teams are transitioning to fully remote or hybrid work formats.

How to overcome it:

  • Frequent meetings waste time during work hours when your employees are working from home. Lesser meetings and more personal check-ins are a great way to better manage employees working from home.
  • Conducting weekly standup meetings where teams can discuss ideas, accomplishments and plans is a great way to allocate responsibilities in a way that lets employees own the outcome and perform better.
  • Conduct training sessions for managers in remote work management and bringing them up to speed on how to get teams working from home to perform better.

6. Tracking employee performance

It’s no secret that teams work from home complicates the life of managers in a lot of ways. While most of the challenges are manageable, the one issue that might take up most of a manager’s time is tracking employee performance in remote work models.

Most organizations transitioning to remote work typically deploy a variety of tools to cobble up a way to work remotely. The problem is, when work is spread across multiple tools, it becomes that much harder to track employee performance, especially when integrations of work data are few and far between.

How to overcome it:

    Multiple tools are the bane of remote work. When your employees are working from home, it’s best to invest in a digital workplace platform that puts all of your work in a single window for employees to access easily.

  • Making sure the digital workplace platform you get comes with built-in analytics that tracks employee performance is also key to success with work from home employees.
  • AI tools that automatically track, collate and generate reports on employee performance are an added bonus if the platform you choose provides them.

7. Creating a good employee experience

Most digital workers today prefer good company culture over better pay. This has become an increasingly important factor recently as more hiring processes are taking place online. Employees that prefer a great employee experience will eventually gravitate towards an organization that provides it.

So how do you create a great employee experience? It all boils down to the culture your organization has built and how it translates into employee happiness and satisfaction. In times where talent can be hired globally and deployed locally with digital work platforms, this challenge is one that organizations cannot ignore.

How to overcome it:

  • Create exclusive social channels where employees can interact professionally and casually with an ability to reach all levels of the organization.
  • Ensure transparency with a friendly work culture where employee concerns can be voiced and managed without the opacity and hierarchy of a traditional workplace.
  • Pick a digital workplace platform that can help you achieve both of these to create the ideal employee experience.

Working from home 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.

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