Times have been changing, and hybrid or fully remote work environments are beginning to be the norm. The benefits are clear, including less commute time, reduced need for office space, and greater flexibility. However, with change also come new challenges to overcome.
Since remote working is here to stay, it’s important you adjust your company culture and management styles to accommodate it. To help you navigate the transition and adopt the tools that will allow effective remote working in your company, we’ve put together a list of nine tips and tricks for overcoming the challenges of remote work.
Common Remote Work Challenges
Before jumping into how you can overcome the challenges of remote work, you first have to understand the common issues that can arise within a remote team. Working from home is different from a lively, bustling office, but it can be an enjoyable experience with the right leadership support for all your employees. Here are some challenges to be aware of:
- There are different types of distractions remote employees face, from activities like online shopping or playing video games to having family, friends, or roommates popping in.
- Technical challenges can cause security breaches as well as interruptions in completing tasks and conducting meetings.
- Working in isolation, with fewer human interactions, can impact mental health, especially among employees who thrive from collaborative, in-person teamwork.
- Collaboration and communication difficulties can arise with online interactions, especially since some employees aren’t well-versed in email and digital communication.
- The lines between work and home can be blurred, causing some employees to overwork and others to work less than they normally would have.
9 Tips for Overcoming the Challenges of Remote Work
1. Provide Guidance on Creating a Home Office
Good ergonomics and a quiet, clean office space are essential for long-term productivity and maintaining employee health. Employees need a proper chair, good lighting, and a dedicated workspace. Provide them with tips on how to set up their home office and provide ergonomics training to help guide your employees. You can also offer a home-office stipend for any supplies they need for productivity, from lamps to whiteboards for tracking tasks.
2. Support Technology Set-Ups
To avoid security breaches and minimize technical challenges, make sure your technical team works with every employee to check their setup during the onboarding process. Advise them on the types of internet connections they should set up or consider setting up a business VPN to secure your network’s resources. Establishing a security protocol is also important to prevent employees from being a hacker entry-point.
3. Highlight the Travel Perks
The flexibility of working from home means you can also work from anywhere. Highlighting the perk of travel and encouraging employees to explore new places boosts morale and inspires people to take some time off. Vacations support physical and mental health, helping lower stress and boost employee wellbeing.
Even if your team needs to stay within a similar timezone, traveling locally or to nearby countries is still possible. Encourage traveling by:
- Setting up a chat or shared document for posts on travel tips or updates
- Including employee benefits with discounts on cruises, tour vacations, attraction entry prices, and resorts
- Offering to reimburse on certain travel costs like a stipend for show tickets or luggage storage
4. Support Work-Life Balance
Besides encouraging vacations, you can also support your employee’s work-life balance by insisting they take breaks throughout the day. Short walks, stretching breaks, or sitting outside in the sun support mental health and productivity. Sending employees food delivery gift cards to show appreciation for their work also doubles as a reminder to take lunch breaks.
You can also ask employees to set and communicate their work hour schedules, as well as encourage them to switch their notifications or devices off after work hours. Check in with and coach employees who need support on how to create and enforce boundaries.
5. Plan Fun Activities
Considering organizing fun virtual activities, such as remote work bingo, virtual dance parties, or after-hour hangouts. These activities will help encourage spontaneous interactions, support team morale, and let everyone get to know each other better.
Make sure you plan a mix of activities that include both your introvert and extrovert employees. Planning your budget to include at least one in-person, destination team-building event will also be a good choice. It can be a work-cation, where people can brainstorm and collaborate on small projects as well as relax and do fun activities together.
6. Encourage Wellness Programs
Your remote employees will greatly benefit from wellness programs that focus on emotional and mental health topics. Implement a wellness program that includes stress management, mindfulness, sleep quality, nutrition, and other topics. You can also support wellness by setting up team-based wellness challenges or activities, like virtual stretch breaks or contributing exercise steps on platforms like the WellSteps Move it Coast to Coast campaign.
7. Set up Periodic Check-ins
One way to help keep your employees on track with their tasks and not distracted by home activities is to set up productivity check-ins at certain points of the day. It lets you provide oversight on distracted employees and support those who are struggling to manage their time. It’s also less threatening if the check-ins are scheduled in advance, not because of an action on the employee’s part.
Employees want to feel valued and heard, so check-ins create the space to bring up anything that might not be communicated otherwise. Regularly checking in also enables you to be a proactive manager, instead of waiting for problems to get big or out of hand before an employee mentions anything.
8. Offer Coworking Stipends
Coworking stipends are becoming a regular part of compensation and employment packages. They can bypass the need to set up an ergonomic-friendly home office space while also preventing isolation. Most coworking spaces are set up like traditional offices, have necessary office equipment, and open up opportunities for water-cooler conversations. If you have employees who live in the same geographical regions, they can book meeting rooms in coworking spaces to collaborate in person.
9. Establish Solid Internal Processes
Last but not least, make sure you have all the necessary internal processes in place to hire, onboard, and manage your remote employees. Planning ahead helps you be prepared to overcome the challenges of remote work. Along with establishing some of the tips we’ve talked about, you can also:
- Make sure you hire candidates that fit into your company culture
- Have a detailed onboarding process with online training
- Have remote work software and project management tools for virtual meetings, file storing, and task collaborations
- Have a clear path for growth that employees can follow
Three years ago, remote working was a perk for a handful of established employees, and very few people could imagine their work lives away from the office environment. However, a global pandemic and a lockdown that lasted almost two years have brought seismic changes to how employees view work. During this time, many companies were forced to rely on meeting apps, company chats, and online productivity tools to keep functioning.
Many top and mid-tier companies that sent “Return to Office” emails have faced a huge wave of resignations, as people didn’t see the reasoning behind the policy. Flexible businesses that build a remote-friendly infrastructure are ready to tap into a global pool of talent that would otherwise be location-bound. Overcoming the inevitable challenges of remote work is an investment that should be seriously considered in 2022 and beyond.