COVID-19 is changing our offices and the way we work. Now, more than ever, companies are seeing the value of setting up remote teams and allowing remote work arrangements.
Remote work, even before “the times of corona,” was already on the rise. The number of employees who work remotely at least once per week has grown by 400% since 2010. 83% of global workers also say that remote work opportunities make them feel happier about their jobs. Despite the popularity and the many benefits, remote working is not without its challenges.
Here are some of the common challenges posed by remote working and some ways to combat them:
- Distractions at home
We’ve all seen that famous video of a BBC reporter being interrupted by his kid while on-air and his wife coming in to snatch the kid away as quickly as possible – and it’s such a real, relatable moment for many remote workers. When working from home, some might also see tasks that aren’t necessarily urgent – from cleaning the apartment to feeding the pets, washing the dishes, or answering the occasional doorbell. Distractions at home are everywhere.
The first thing to take care of when switching to a WFH arrangement is to set-up a home office. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it does have to be deliberate. It’s important that there’s a designated area for work – tidy, practical, and, ideally, in a separate space – and that the people you live with at home understand and respect your working hours. Taking short, timed, proactively planned breaks can also help increase productivity.
- Fragmented collaboration
When team members are in the same office, they can easily work together, side-by-side, on a specific document or project, without a lot of limitations. When global teams work in different places and different time zones, however, there can be some delays in input and feedback. Also, communication through chat or e-mail, without the usual show of nonverbal cues and other supplementary information accomplished through face-to-face interaction, can feel distant and impersonal.
There are now many online tools and programs specially created for remote teams –
a. Trello, Asana, Freedcamp, Timecamp (a time tracker) and other project management tools can help members take ownership of small tasks within projects. The progress visibility also allows teams to see which parts need more work and also reminds each of specific due dates.
b. Apps like Skype, GoToMeeting, Slack, or Zoom allows better collaboration by improving virtual communication. These programs help make correspondence among teams more seamless with their respective features such as notifications, file sharing, group chats, instant messaging, etc.
Many proponents of remote work also encourage teams to turn their cameras on during virtual meetings, as this promotes an enhanced digital experience and incites heightened focus, resulting in more dynamic meetings.
- Lack of management oversight
One of the most significant differences between working in the office and working from home is the lack of real-time, face-to-face supervision. New business owners, who are only beginning to scale, might lack the experience in managing employees and may encounter difficulties (especially due to the complication of not being in the same physical space). On the other hand, managers who have been used to the traditional set-up may find it tough to fully trust the team when they are unable to physically see them working.
For those who are just beginning to venture into hiring remote staff, finding a reliable partner can help augment the initial challenges in managing remote teams. Some business owners don’t realize the actual amount of work this entails – hiring the right employees, setting their metrics, monitoring their productivity, and even taking care of their pay and benefits. It is helpful to remember that there are companies dedicated to offering these end-to-end services and providing full management oversight for remote teams.
Furthermore, while there are programs that can track progress and there are even some apps that can monitor exactly what an employee is doing, nothing beats building a culture of trust within the team. Compared with industry competitors, companies with high-trust cultures experience 50% lower employee turnover and 50% higher productivity.
Many experts believe that the coronavirus outbreak just accelerated and fast-tracked the inevitable shift towards what is dubbed “the future of work.” Companies who, at first, felt forced to adapt these arrangements are now changing their minds about remote work. As long as organizations take the time to tackle the challenges and find ways to overcome them, building remote teams just might be the move that can catapult a business to the next level.
Since 2011, FGC+ has been instrumental in setting up successful remote teams. We know how to overcome these challenges; we know how to make remote teams the best they can be. Let us help you build yours today!