Disadvantages & Challenges of Remote Work
Remote work is no longer a fringe business practice. The Coronavirus pandemic has stirred organizations to quickly create and implement remote work policies in order to ensure business continuity.
The rapid paradigm shift to an entirely remote workforce in most organizations left them scrambling to manage their newly remote teams and keep projects on track. Even mid-size and enterprise organizations familiar with remote working found it intimidating to scale and maintain their processes.
Working remotely offers many advantages to organizations such as lower overhead and access to a bigger talent pool. Meanwhile, employees benefit from higher productivity levels and a better work-life balance.
Remote work challenges and solutions for employers
Even with all the benefits, certain remote work disadvantages do exist. At Wrike, we've curated the best remote work tools, tips, and resources to help your organization overcome these challenges and collaborate effectively from anywhere in the world.
Time zone differences
Coordinating with geographically dispersed team members can be challenging at times. Picture a scenario where one team member is starting their day while another is logging off. Collaboration is everything, especially when it affects employee morale and work progress. So, what's the solution?
How to solve time zone issues:
Plan your projects, tasks, and cut down on email communication. Project management tools such as Wrike let you tag the exact team member(s) with whom you need to share your work and streamline your decision-making process. No need to write long emails (and wait even longer to receive replies)!
With all-in-one work management platforms, team members can share their workflows and be on the same page. Minimize status check-ins that become challenging with employees in different time zones. Consider scheduling a weekly team check-in where everyone on the team is online at the same time.
Spotty tech issues
Is technology tripping up your team? Yes, enterprise-grade technology is typically fast and advanced. But an individual team member's remote internet connection on their laptop or smartphone may not be that reliable.
Quite a few companies may even fail to provide company laptops to their staff. Forgetting their password or being locked out of their computer or account are just a few things that can happen while working remotely.
How to solve tech issues:
Make sure your team has the right technology to help them succeed. For example, make sure they have the ability (and hardware) to connect over ethernet instead of just their Wi-fi connection.
Just like the IT helpdesk in the workplace, having a remote helpdesk can be a huge support to remote teams needing help when things go wrong. When it comes to having a robust support ticketing system or a self-help SSO, don’t reinvent the wheel. Being considerate and strategic can go a long way.
Get the right collaboration tools to help your team succeed – be it hardware or software. It could be anything from a laptop, internet hardware to a powerful work management platform like Wrike that lets them collaborate from anywhere.
Understanding project progress and team tasks
Want to know the team's progress at every stage? Understanding project progress and team tasks are one of the many work from home disadvantages that exist. Even if you make sure that the daily and weekly goals are hit, what happens if you miss the bigger picture?
How to solve project visibility issues:
Never miss your deadlines! With a project management tool like Wrike, you can create a real-time progress chart and a larger project progress overview.
Create a visual dashboard to keep an eye on team progress using Gantt charts and Kanban boards. Quickly sort tasks by due dates and progress to know if anything is amiss.
Help your team increase trust, accountability, and on-time delivery by allowing them to personalize their workflows and share it with each other. Minimize any communication gaps and eliminate the need for frequent check-ins.
Ensuring effective remote collaboration
Many organizations consider remote collaboration as one of their biggest challenges, even with the recent shift to mass remote working. As a director, you may wonder how the new product campaign will launch with a geographically dispersed team?
Even working on a single document or file can prove challenging when your only collaboration options are talking over the phone, video, or a Zoom call. The good news is that teams can effectively overcome this barrier using a remote collaboration tool to communicate successfully.
How to solve remote collaboration issues:
Every remote team needs a fast, responsive, and flexible communication platform. Email isn't that effective when your team is working remotely. Using multiple communication tools, file-sharing applications, and software can get messy and information can easily get lost.
Pick from Slack, Google Docs or Wrike to help you communicate effectively across distances while keeping all information and data in a secure cloud storage. Identify and retain the applications with Wrike’s work management platform to work seamlessly. Keep all assets and comments in one place to make it easy for all stakeholders!
Dealing with cultural differences
A remote team across continents will certainly be a melting pot of cultures and languages! Workplace expectations and cultural norms can differ greatly in these countries. Like Japan’s work culture focuses more on face-to-face interactions that necessitate consulting with team members while in the US, more discrete tasks are given to employees with the requisite autonomy to execute them.
How to handle cultural differences at work:
Managers will need to set a few ground rules for effective collaboration. Understanding different communication styles can help enhance our interpersonal skills, build trust and get more done.
While some team members may prefer speaking, others may choose to write emails or send text messages to converse with each other.
The transition to remote work opens up the organization to many potential security risks such as security leaks, online hacking, or external breaches. With no watercooler chats or coffee breaks, all communication happens 100% online. Many remote workers also use the same laptop or smartphone for their official and personal use, leading to unintentional data exposure.
How to solve security risks:
Reduce vulnerabilities in workflows by storing all corporate data and files in a single cloud work management platform and not on anyone's laptop or hard drive. Another great tip is to use virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect to your organization’s data and files.
To maintain your company’s privacy, set up regular, online security trainings that include best practices and reminders of important security practices: avoiding public Wi-fi networks, password hygiene, and recognizing phishing, among other things. Additionally, take advantage of SSO and two-factor authentication if it’s not already part of your security suite.
Remote work challenges and solutions for employees
Transitioning to remote work can pose significant challenges for anyone — from veterans to remote work newbies. Address those challenges head on with these tips.
Lack of a daily commute and no one to look over your shoulder can sometimes lower productivity for remote employees. A 30-minute task can end up taking more than an hour if you don't track your time.
Many of these time taking tasks can quickly reduce your team's productivity and negatively impact work-life balance. So, how can you maximize remote work productivity?
How to maximize productivity:
Doing more than one task at a time hurts your productivity. It's best to plan out your day's tasks in advance and then follow it through the next day, making note of what was left over or if you had extra time. Create a personal work dashboard with Wrike and stay on top of your day even when you're not in your traditional office.
Work prioritization and time management
Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list, as well as a lack of communication with team members and continuous focus on work can be challenging. The absence of team members or a supervisor can also lead to a reduced pressure to get things done. Working in isolation can reduce morale when it’s less apparent your team is still achieving their goals together.
How to prioritize work and manage your time:
Prioritizing the day's tasks by using shared calendars, Gantt charts, and Kanban boards to sort your tasks according to their priority and progress. Or create a personalized dashboard that pins the essential functions on the top. Lead your agile team to success by managing everything in your project proactively. Discover project management fundamentals, resources and curated best practices in this ultimate guide.
Handling isolation and reduced human interaction
People are social beings. 21% of remote workers surveyed by Gallup shared that they feel isolated working on their own. Reduced human interactions can increase feelings of loneliness when you're chugging away alone on your laptop, without any watercooler chats.
How to handle isolation:
Do regular check-ins with your team. Go beyond the work-related conversations and project updates. Develop a management style that helps remote workers flourish by building high-quality relationships with each other and fostering trust with communications.
Another great tip is to use recorded video messages. They can be watched on-demand and have the non-verbal cues of tone and body language, that makes them highly effective at fostering trust among team members.
Managing work interruptions and distractions
One of the top productivity killers is the work interruptions when you're working from home. We've noticed that a doorbell ringing, the dog barking, spouse asking about having lunch, or your kid watching television can be distracting at times. That's especially true when you're in the middle of an important client meeting. So, what's the way out?
How to handle interruptions and distractions:
None of us want to fall behind on our weekly goals or compromise on team progress. It’s time to take advantage of the resources we have and create a simple work plan to manage these interruptions effectively.
One of the best ways to do this is to identify a quiet and distraction-free spot. Pick a room that you will use only for work. Add a table with an ergonomic chair or standing desk. Once you tackle the real-world distractions, it's time to take the digital distractions head-on. Try and block out Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram when you're at work — or at least switch off the notifications.
Since working remotely is not a passing fad, it’s vital to get your team set up for the long haul to avoid any remote work challenges in the future.
Focus on what’s important, ensure seamless collaborations and deliver top-quality work with solutions at your disposal like Wrike’s Remote Work Template.