Working from home comes with many perks, but also many drawbacks.
Workplace limitations have forced more businesses to send team members to work remotely from home offices. While many are itching to get back into the office, others have grown to enjoy the remote working life. The increased flexibility allows you to utilize talent from practically any geographic region, workers enjoy the convenience of working from home, and organizations enjoy not needing to rent out quite as much office space.
While there are many pros, using remote workers isn’t without its cons. In this piece, we’re going to look at possible tech solutions for remedying the challenges that companies face with employing remote workers.
1. Challenge: Remote Worker Scheduling Irregularities
It may seem extremely convenient to have workers who literally live in their office, but when a team is stretched across several time zones and even continents, this can lead to scheduling difficulties. While there may be a few night owls or early birds among remote workers who don’t mind working at a different time in order to line up collaboration, most workers will want to stick to a work schedule during the usual 9-5.
Possible Fix: Line up collaboration with online calendar systems. We’ve all been on the dreaded group text with friends trying to coordinate plans for a night out. Nobody needs the equivalent of the neverending group text at work. Instead of having to manually herd your strewn team, using a calendar system that allows for calendar visibility will make live-chat or virtual face-to-face collaboration sessions easier to schedule. If finding time to meet up in a virtual space is a repeated headache, your team may contemplate having pre-determined blocks of time set aside for collaboration. If these blocks aren’t specifically filled within a certain hour time span, team members can fill them with other more pressing tasks.
2. Challenge: Communication Falling Between the Email Cracks
Communicating short messages or questions with remote team members via email or on the phone can be a headache. What started as a simple request is now an email chain with messages in the dozens. To make matters worse, trying to find a requested answer at a later date can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. The alternative of calling them isn’t much better, as even the shortest phone calls can be a significant focus derailer.
Possible Fix: Utilizing systems designed for work-related chat collaboration can help catch any messages that fall between the cracks in an email. Not only is messaging simple, but it keeps business-related messages out of text messages and non-commercial messaging services. These collaboration-centric chat services also offer a variety of robust search tools to make finding that message at a later date simple.
3. Challenge: Managing Remote Worker Progress on Ongoing Tasks
Because managers aren’t touching base with remote workers every day in the person, gauging the progression of tasks can be difficult.
Possible Fix: A variety of task management systems can help give managers a detailed view of the progression of their employees — both remote and onsite. Whether a supervisor would like to simply see that a team worker has begun work on a task, how far along they are, or much time they have spent on a project, this is all possible. In addition to benefiting a supervisor with task management, having a running clock on tasks can help remote workers stay focused on the task at hand — which may be especially challenging for some remote workers with added distractions not found in the office.
4. Challenge: Remote Workers Feeling Disconnected From The Team
It is an innate human desire to belong — to be a part of the team. Remote workers may feel isolated or disconnected from the team due to their lack of physical face-to-face interaction.
Possible Fix: Utilizing any number of video conferencing programs, scheduling times to have video chats with remote workers can help them feel better engaged. Encourage remote workers to collaborate in video chats versus email back-and-forths or even live chats whenever possible. Seeing a face, hearing a voice, and knowing that their input is being immediately considered can help increase cohesion among team workers no matter where they are located.