10 Key Challenges for Employees & Businesses when Remote Working
With most people working from home now doing so, remote working seems to be normal for most individual and businesses.
But what challenges does remote working hold for employees and businesses?
We’ve reached out to our network to ask individuals what their biggest challenges have been so far after remote working was enforced on organisations practically overnight. Attollo’s has provided some helpful solutions to these challenges to ensure that all remote workers are feeling happy and more productive.
1) Home-based Distractions
Challenge – In my home environment trying to work, I’m more distracted than I usually would be. I think I have to get ‘house’ jobs done like the laundry, I can hear the kids being noisy in the background and my partner thinks that I’m available a lot of time to do ‘little jobs’ that add up to a lot of jobs that take valuable time away from my day. How do I ignore these types of distractions?
Solution – Although it’s easy to get distracted, it’s important to keep boundaries in place and try to keep your home-working life as close to your office-working life as possible. You may have to put some limits on yourself and have a conversation with loved ones about how to approach you during your working day. For example, only approach you while you’re having a break at lunchtime.
2. Motivation Levels
Challenge – Motivation and focus levels seem to have taken a nosedive since remote working. I’m used to working in a team of people and get a lot of communication face-to-face. Without this same level of communication, I’m finding it difficult to maintain focus and keep to timescales.
Solution – Communication is key! It can’t be stressed enough the importance of regular communication with colleagues. It helps to keep people aligned with what the business is trying to achieve. It’s also likely that you may be feeling unsettled at these difficult and unique times, you wouldn’t be alone in feeling like this. Be fair to yourself as you are doing something new to you. Take time to adjust and have regular breaks if you need to. If you’re really struggling to complete work to the timescales, speak to your manager.
3. Should I approach a colleague?
Challenge – As a manager, I have a team of people that I am responsible for whilst remote working. In an office environment, I can see if people are asking questions and getting help from colleagues or if staff are being interrupted by colleagues. When remote working, I can’t immediately tell if someone is busy or is being interrupted several times a day. It’s harder to gauge if I should approach them or not.
Solution – Although I would agree that this is difficult to gauge, there are tips you can use to help. You could have regular, non-negotiable, short catch up meetings during the week (Mon, Wed, Fri) adjust to what you find suitable for your team. This can be a place where people are encouraged to ask questions or say if people are interrupting them too much. Also remind your team of the different ways they can communicate outside of these meetings, such as Microsoft Teams It has a call, video call and chat function to keep in touch.
4) How do I stop work in the evening?
Challenge – I enjoy my job thoroughly, however remote working during COVID-19, I’ve found it very difficult to switch off in the evening and stop working. I always seem to gravitate back to my laptop to work on something I know can wait until tomorrow.
Solution – It may be nice to give yourself a time for a hard stop come 5.30 pm and have something none-work related planned in that you can do instead. Such as facetime with your family or friends. Like you’ve said, it can wait until tomorrow. It’s important, now more than ever, to draw the line between home and work and keep that healthy balance.
5) Having the right space and equipment
Challenge – I don’t feel I have the correct space set up at home and I lack some of the correct equipment. Remote working isn’t an option in my role usually, so I’ve never needed to dedicate a space to it in my home before now.
Solution – It’s still early days for your remote working journey and so it’s likely you will have teething problems such as difficulties in acquiring equipment like a monitor, keyboard, mouse or an office chair. Or your home office space is smaller than your office space, so it becomes difficult to work to your ‘normal’ standard and you may get cabin fever. If you can, make a ‘workspace’ for during the day that you can then close off at the end of the day. This can also help to sperate home and work life. It’s unsure how long we will stay in quarantine, so if you need specific equipment, speak to your manager on how to get you set up correctly so that you can be just as productive at home.
Challenge – I’m not a huge exercise fanatic but I’m finding myself more static when remote working, I get less exercise and end up eating more. At least when I was going to the office I would stand and move around more, walk to and from the car park and be up and around the office most of the day.
Solution – It’s important to move around and take regular movement breaks throughout the day. If it’s light exercise you can simply walk into different rooms in your house to mimic the same action that you have in your office space. If you want to try something difficult, Joe Wicks (the body coach) is doing a live workout on YouTube every weekday morning @9am for the world to join in, here is the link if you’re feeling brave. *Disclaimer* they are meant for children but are still enjoyable/difficult.
7) Reduced Social Interaction
Challenge – While remote working, I feel as though I have reduced information in conversations. I lose all visual cues on a telephone or in text chat. I have recently started using video more which helps a bit, but I still find I lose a lot of micro gestures that I would usually get from body language in-person.
Solution – If you’re struggling with social interaction, I would recommend video calls over the telephone every time. However, something we have used to help is Virtual Reality (VR). You can only do this if you have a VR headset. It’s a great way to interact with each other as you have your avatar in a virtual meeting room where social etiquette still applies. Such as looking into people’s eyes while they are talking and shaking hands when you meet people. This would help with micro gestures and body language.
8) Trusting Teams
Challenge – Working from home is new to our organisation so I’ve found that managing my team can be hard. I don’t know if they are working the full 9-5 hours that they are contracted to do. How can I make my team work in these hours?
Solution – Managing your team on 9-5 working hours may not be the best approach. Try switching the management style to focus on deliverables. It can be essential to set out what work should take a day or a week. If your team can stick to these deliverables, they are probably doing enough work. If they haven’t, why not? This could calm your fears of a team that are just slacking off and costing the business time and money or simply don’t have the correct equipment in place to be as productive as they usually are.
9) We’re prepared and our clients aren’t
Challenge – As a business, I feel as though we have been prepared for this scenario. Not for a pandemic but for non-office working. I’m finding it difficult that other organisations aren’t prepared including some of our clients. One client has put their entire workforce on furlough leave, which means they are operating with reduced staff, unfortunately starting their project with us is the least of their priorities at this time in their journey.
Solution – It’s good that your organisation is ready for remote working and I understand how it can be frustrating when other organisations aren’t. You could promote your remote working practices to encourage other organisations to follow in your footsteps? How have you prepared? Some organisations don’t realise the importance of remote working and having access to information outside of the office, until something like this happens.
10 – Not enough cups of tea?
Challenge – At home, I don’t have as many cups of tea as I do in the office.
Solution – A more light-hearted one to finish on… our experience says, make yourself some tea then?
We hope that by collecting these challenges on remote working, we can help employees and businesses in providing solutions to make them better prepared for remote working. It’s never too late to change your remote working practices, especially if it makes you and your team more productive in the process.
If this blog has been helpful, we’ve also created an infographic that displays a remote working checklist and getting the best out of you and your team whilst you’re working remotely.
We’re interested to hear any additional or unique challenges that you have faced or if you can relate to any of the above, how you went about solving them. Get in touch via email@example.com.