Challenges faced by remote employees and how managers can overcome them
Remote employees may have diverse cultures, languages, and skills. They work in different time zones unless the company recently became remote. Companies with remote teams perform better if they build a strong team. A skilled team leads to a higher competitive advantage.
Fatigue from the daily commute to/from work decreases productivity for non-remote employees. Greater autonomy when working from home increases employee confidence. An Interruption-free environment allows them to thrive by saving time and money. Employees get to manage their work-life balance from the comfort of their homes.
While there are many benefits, there are some challenges too that managers face because of remote teams. We will focus on these challenges managers encounter, and discuss ways to overcome them.
Loneliness and Isolation
There are many challenges managers tend to face when handling remote teams. One that tops the list is loneliness and isolation. Lack of social interaction at the workplace, or social isolation, leads to loneliness. Due to this, employees may feel they don't belong in the company. It affects their mental health, causing anxiety and depression, and sabotages the business. So, this one challenge makes it very important for managers to deal with right from the beginning.
Text-based instructions increase the probability of communication issues. Some messages may get lost in translation, or lead to misunderstandings. If left unresolved, these misunderstandings can lead to conflict and frustration.
Distractions at Home
Having distractions at home is the most highlighted challenge faced by remote employees. Kids run around during meetings. Employees doze off while working from the comfort of the couch. Dedicated workspaces help reduce these distractions.
Feeling Left Out
Working in an office environment helps employees interact with each other often. But in a remote team, employees might end up feeling left out. Some employees are eager in discussions, while others might need a little encouragement.
Lack of Appropriate Communication Tools
Good tools are essential in a remote team environment. A lack of appropriate communication tools may cripple productivity in a non-physical workspace. Managers need to communicate and follow up with their teams, and teams need to communicate with each other for an effective communication network.
Lack of Cohesion within the Group
Managers of remote teams have to work hard to ensure there is cohesion within the group. Irregular communication reduces productivity. And the lack of appropriate communication tools, tying back to the previous point, makes it even worse.
Set Up Schedules & Respect Everyone's Time
Employees in different time-zones may struggle to set up schedules for meetings. Managers have to be cautious to respect everyone's time constraints.
Accountability programs ensures employees are following instructions and completing tasks within the given timeframe. These programs help increase work efficiency and productivity. Missing or ambiguous accountability programs deter employees in completing projects and meeting deadlines.
Difficult to Track Employee Performance
It's difficult to track employee performance when teams are not working out of an office. Hardworking employees get demotivated. It also leads to a lack of feedback for them to improve their performance in the future.
Lack of Face-to-Face Supervision
Managers can avoid a lot of issues that remote employees face by building more empathy. Employees struggle hard for direct help due to a lack of face-to-face supervision.
Lack of Information
Lack of information is detrimental for managers, but even more so for the employees. Spending hours on a task that wasn't required to begin with may agitate employees.
Ways to Overcome Challenges
Handling remote teams may seem challenging, but here are a few easy steps that will help you make the process smooth.
Since remote team employees tend to feel isolated, it may lead to anxiety and depression. You need to provide reassurance and support your employees emotionally. Emotional support and encouragement will boost not only their morale but also productivity.
Regular check-ins through one-on-one or stand up calls makes teamwork cohesive and collaborative. It reduces the risk of a lack of information for tasks and projects. If an issue arises, employees will be able to consult managers timely.
Excellent Communication and Technological Tools
Excellent communication and technological tools help in higher productivity and smooth communication. Managers must provide the team with the right tools and services that work well. Reliability and ease of use are vital for communication and technological tools.
Casual interactions with team members will make them feel less isolated and lonely. They will feel more valued and like they belong in the company. Employees can get together and connect every year, as well. It will make the organization a more close-knit family. Every week, Team Foretheta looks forward to the Wednesday QnA by Noman Gul, our engineer. He posts a casual question for Foretheta employees. Everyone takes part in that friendly discussion.
The most powerful driver for employees is when managers lead by adopting behaviors. We discussed the most common and crucial challenges faced by remote team managers. These ranged from isolation to lack of information or distractions at home. All these challenges may be detrimental to the company. Emotional support, regular check-ins, excellent tools, and casual interactions will ensure managers are able to effectively handle remote teams.
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