In the past, working from home was a distant reality. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become a way of life for many employees. The work-from-home setup allowed companies to continue their operations and abide by health protocols.
Remote work allows employees to enjoy the comforts of home while doing their tasks. Attending online meetings in comfortable night clothes or being with loved ones 24/7 are some of the perks of working from home. However, this unprecedented employment setup has also presented some challenges for employers.
The following are some of the drawbacks of remote work. Perhaps your company is already experiencing any of them. So, here are some feasible solutions to these challenges that will benefit both employers and employees.
Remote Work Challenges and How to Address Them
The Challenge: Increased exposure to cyber threats
A remote workforce relies on the internet for it to function efficiently. A digital system offers a convenient way to work. However, it can make the company's data vulnerable to cyberattacks and breaches. These situations can adversely affect the employee and the company as a whole.
The risk increases further when teams from various locations access remote company servers and other centralized resources. Cyberattacks can destroy an organization's reputation and can cause financial losses.
Due to the complex nature of the digital world, this problem needs multifaceted solutions. Several aspects of the business—IT, cybersecurity, and HR—must work together to secure the company's data. Consider using digital security tools such as password managers, VPNs, and internet security applications to mitigate risks.
The Challenge: Communication Issues
A 2020 survey reveals that 20% of respondents believe that remote work's most significant challenges are communication and collaboration. Workflow issues may arise when you have employees who work around different time zones and schedules.
Effective communication can already be a problem for a face-to-face setup. So, imagine how difficult it can be when co-workers are staying home. Moreover, some things may get lost in translation, causing delays in the production line and reduced efficiency.
It's best to use the appropriate technology to ensure smooth communications. Applications such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Slack are examples of cost-efficient and user-friendly solutions.
Encourage effective asynchronous communication practices since not everyone can respond immediately to queries. Regular online meetings to check everyone's well-being and progress can also help boost collaboration.
The Challenge: Project Management and Prioritization
Working remotely allows employees to enjoy more flexibility regarding their schedules. However, this "freedom" can lead to struggles with prioritizing work. There will always be the temptation to watch TV, do chores, browse social media, or take a nap. These activities can distract employees from doing their tasks.
Online project management tools to track everyone's progress can help address this challenge. You may also encourage team members to install browser plug-ins that inhibit social media use while working.
It's best to focus more on an employee's output rather than the time spent on a specific workday. Try asking them what time of the day they work best. Let them work during their most productive time instead of forcing them to follow a strict schedule.
The Challenge: Employee Retention and Loyalty
One of the primary goals of most employees is to climb the corporate ladder. However, the lack of face-to-face interaction may hamper this development. Employees worry about not having enough visibility to show their skills. On the other hand, the isolation of remote work can lower employee engagement, leading to higher attrition rates.
You can try discussing KPIs clearly, ensuring that employees understand what the company expects. It will also help retain top talent if you provide appropriate rewards to rockstar employees.
Creating fun and engaging activities, even online, can also boost engagement. Lastly, always show your team members that you value them through positive feedback or recognition.
The Challenge: Lack of Technology
Technology is a crucial enabler of remote work. However, some employees do not have the appropriate digital tools and software that will allow them to do their tasks well. It can be hard to recreate an office setup at home. Not having access to the best equipment can lead to inconsistent output, slow productivity, and data transfer issues.
It's best to provide your employees with the proper tools for their work-from-home setup. You must treat them the same as if they're working onsite. Equip your team with computers loaded with the necessary software and other peripherals. If your employees already have the hardware, ensure they comply with company standards.
The Challenge: Remote Hiring
Hiring is already challenging. But remote hiring makes the job more difficult. Meeting an applicant in person has benefits that an online or phone interview can't provide. Not being able to stage live hiring events can also hamper recruitment.
This challenge is one that businesses must address at the outset. Productivity can decrease when management can't fill crucial roles as quickly as they should.
A video interview may not replace a face-to-face meeting, but it can be a good alternative. This way, the interviewer can check for visual cues. An applicant with a professional look, an organized environment, and a pleasant attitude is most likely to be a viable candidate.
Another option is to utilize recruitment assessment tools to help you gauge an applicant's potential.
Overcoming Remote Work Challenges
The remote work setup is a lifesaver for companies and the economy. It has allowed organizations to continue their operations despite pandemic restrictions. Meanwhile, many employees can keep their livelihood and provide for their families.
This employment practice may be beneficial in many aspects, But it doesn't come without drawbacks. Common issues include communication gaps, lack of appropriate technology, and cyber threat risks. Employers also face the challenge of hiring and retaining top talent amidst the lack of in-person interactions.
You can mitigate these remote work problems with actionable measures as business leaders. Some issues entail technological intervention and the right equipment. However, nothing beats the human touch. As team leaders, you must check on your members and keep your doors open, albeit virtually.
The remote work setup is here to stay. It is rapidly becoming a norm for many organizations. Creativity, compassion, and communication are the keys to overcoming your business's challenges with the remote work setup.