In these uncertain times, more and more of your employees will become remote workers. In many cases, this will be a straightforward transition in terms of technology and logistics. However, there can be some other underlying challenges along the way. It’s not just businesses that face difficulties when it comes to working from home; it’s the employees themselves. So how do you mitigate these to get the right balance for both the business and workers?
Take a look at some of the common challenges of remote working and how you can resolve them to create a harmonious balance.
Challenges of remote working
To understand how to make remote working a successful practice for your business, you need to understand the challenges it presents. The main areas to focus on include:
Lack of face-to-face interaction and supervision
While research indicates that many people are productive in a remote setting, supervisors often worry that employees won’t be without supervision. On the flip-side, employees may also lack confidence when there is not someone available to offer support and guidance.
Issues accessing information
In the workplace, we just chat to someone or pick up the phone to get the information we need. This immediacy of information is something that is not always available when you’re working remotely. While it should be just as simple, there can be interpersonal challenges to overcome.
Home environment distractions
Naturally, at home, there are a lot more distractions to deal with, especially if children are also at home. At this time, managers should expect a different remote working environment to normal as many people are in sub-optimal conditions as they transition to this type of work. Supervisors may also need to compromise with more flexible working arrangements while employees are juggling home and work life.
This is one of the most understated challenges of remote working, but it is one of the most common complaints. Workers may struggle to deal with the lack of connection that comes from being in the workplace, and the longer remote working ensues, the more this can impact someone’s life.
How employers can support employees with remote working
There are several ways to face the challenges mentioned above to ensure your employees feel happy in this new working environment. By making small adjustments and inexpensive alterations, you will also see an increase in productivity.
Take a look at some of the primary ways you can support your remote employees:
Create structure in the working day
Much like if they were in the office, create a structure such as check-ins and catch-ups to ensure everyone is happy with their workload and daily tasks. However, this shouldn’t feel like you’re checking up on them. You could also make this time a collaborative effort by involving everyone on the team. This time could include a morning brief or team meeting to help sort out issues anyone is facing. Plus, it gives everyone a chance to catch up without it feeling too formal.
Monitor their working conditions and encourage healthy habits
While it might be ok in the meantime for employees to be camped out on the kitchen table with a laptop, after a while, their health may be affected. Happy and healthy employees are more productive, and although they are not in the workplace, it is still a good idea to care about their working environment and wellbeing. Help them make a better choice about where they work in their home, such as dedicated space. Allow them to take an office chair home to encourage better seating. If they spend a lot of time on the phone, supply a specialized case with EMF protection to minimize harmful radiation to the body. Other things to consider is whether they have a break during the day, as getting away from screens can be more challenging at home.
Create boundaries for everyone
One of the most significant frustrations for remote employees is it can feel like they need to be constantly on-call. To avoid this, think about when they are working in the office. If they have an important task, they are usually given ample time and space with limited interruptions to complete it. The same should be done in a remote setting. If employees feel they are getting urgent requests and even messages to their phones every five minutes, this will affect their overall productivity and willingness. Boundaries should be set on in regards to messaging services used by your company. It’s great to have functionality such as Slack or Zoom available. Still, it is not viable to expect an immediate response from someone every second of the day.
Encourage vigilance surrounding company information
Your remote employees will have access to everything they need at home, so security is an important area to think about. If you handle sensitive data, establishing secure connections and remote access to company data is vital, but this isn’t all you need. You also need to ensure that a risk assessment is in place should information be compromised in any way. To encourage better data and security management, suggesting a dedicated space to work is an excellent idea. This helps to keep work information away from home life.
Provide emotional support when needed
The mental well-being of your employees is paramount. They’ve had to deal with a lot in the past few months, and the ‘new normal’ is unlikely to change much going forward. Stress will be natural alongside frustrations with other remote working aspects. To assist with this, be sure to provide emotional support when it is required. It could be a case of merely asking questions to help employees talk about their experiences, or providing information on where they can get specialized assistance.
Everyone should be aiming to get the best out of remote working as possible, but times are hard, and stress is high. By working with your employees to create a balanced and respectful environment, you can all learn and grow together during this period.
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