Remote first companies and their employees and contractors enjoy tons of undeniable benefits, including saving money and resources and having a much wider talent pool to choose from and create flexible, scalable, and highly efficient teams. This talent pool comes in handy when companies need people whose skills are in high-demand.
But while remote work has plenty of advantages, it does come with the challenges of a traditional workplace and some specific challenges that are a direct result of distance and asynchronous schedules. There’s also the fact that remote collaboration culture is a constant work in progress, even in industries that adopted it early on. This can present challenges, especially when it comes to technology.
Let’s discuss these challenges and some preventative strategies you can use to prevent them from becoming a problem.
1.- Decreased efficiency
While remote work generally results in higher productivity rates than traditional workplaces, this doesn’t necessarily translate to an increase in efficiency.
Productivity and efficiency aren’t the same thing. A developer can be 25% more productive than their counterpart at the end of a month, but if they did the same work in half the time, the other programmer is more efficient. In other words, it’s a matter of making the most of the work hours.
Thousands of surveys and reports conducted during the past few years have shown that remote employees complain about being surrounded by distractions that make them less efficient. As a consequence, they have to spend more time finishing their work even if it interferes with their personal life.
Your best bet for increasing your team’s remote productivity is to start measuring it in terms of efficiency. In other words, implement systems that allow you to simultaneously compare results and the amount of effort.
Another way to do this is by establishing dynamics and tools that are specifically designed to increase efficiency, concentration, and focus. For example, you can use time trackers, pomodoros, sprints, and gamified leaderboards.
Remember, the collaborators who are efficient and productive can help you take full advantage of remote work’s potential. People who are highly productive to the detriment of their own work-life balance are the most likely to suffer from stress and burnout.
2.- Lack of balance
According to a United Nations International Labor Organization report, while workers state that they have higher job satisfaction when they work from home, it can also make them more likely to work longer hours or unfavorable hours. This can result in higher stress levels.
There are two ways to combat this problem, and it’s best to do both at the same time. The first way is to attract collaborators with good self-management skills who are used to remote work and demonstrate good work-life balance.
The second way is to promote self-management and good habits (exercise, healthy eating, meditation breaks) through company policies that make these things not just a priority but also feasible.
You can encourage your team not to overextend themselves and spend time playing sports or working out until you’re blue in the face, but if you give them huge responsibilities, you’ll end up sending mixed messages.
On the other hand you can urge them to keep their work and personal lives separate, but if you send them a document with changes at eleven at night or invite them to a meeting on Saturday afternoon, it’ll be hard for them not to interpret that as being obligated to be thinking about and doing work 24/7.
Millions of people reported isolation-induced emotional problems like depression, anxiety, lack of concentration, and decreased motivation and productivity during the pandemic. There had never been any other time in history that had shown how important human interaction was for mental health.
But remote work is nothing like what we experienced during quarantine. In fact, working from home or being digital nomads has allowed millions of people to build better interpersonal relationships and social connections.
When does isolation become a problem that’s directly related to remote work? According to recent studies, there are a few risk factors including a lack of social interests, people skills, and nearby support systems.
In other words, when someone who works remotely, lives alone or away from family or friends, has always been shy, and lives far away from places to meet and have fun, they’re much more likely to exhibit emotional, somatic, and work-related symptoms of isolation. This is especially true when they don’t have the opportunities to socialize that in-person work can offer.
What can you do to mitigate this situation? Other than team building activities and virtual happy hours, it’s best to create and maintain a company culture that makes these risk factors visible and motivates employees to go to coworking spaces or other in-person places with other like-minded people.
For example, giving an employee the opportunity to start their work day later so they can go to a reiki session isn’t just doing them a favor. It also helps the company because then that employee is more motivated and needs to take fewer mental health days off.
4.- Communication issues
Improper communication or lack of it entirely is one of the most typical challenges of remote work. It probably costs companies and startups with a remote work model the most time and money of all.
Because communication is spread across so many channels and can involve extremely subtle aspects, it’s not uncommon for written communication to be misinterpreted, or for a time difference result in something being overdue, or for a badly written exchange between team members to lead to butting heads.
Likewise, since communication is a group of actions that occur simultaneously, there isn’t a silver bullet for the challenges that come along with it. Instead, you’ll need to enact a remote communication policy that discusses writing, digital etiquette, choosing channels, and schedules according to each circumstance, as well as extremely detailed criteria for feedback. Most of all, you’ll want to establish communication as a non-negotiable soft skill for team and project leaders.
A lack of efficiency and balance, coupled with isolation and communication problems, are some inherent risks of remote work. So it’s important to invest in preventive solutions. The good news is that remote work allows you to save money that you can use to make smart investments.
At Workana, we know a good remote work culture benefits everyone. That’s why we help companies build results-oriented dream teams every day with developers, technology experts, and certified talent in high demand, all in record time.
Try our seven-day risk-free trial. It’s the only one on the market, and it’s got an 85% fill rate. So what are you waiting for? Put the best candidates’ skills to the test before building your team, and get started!
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