Working remotely isn’t all about beating productivity benchmarks and stress-free days.
In fact, for many, it’s quite the opposite.
There are endless challenges to thriving in a remote work environment, despite the glamorous sheen it’s sometimes given.
Showing up to work every day when there is no physical place of work, no sense of community or coworkers, and no extra accountability can be tough. Not to mention there’s a whole host of distractions that can only be found in the home.
Fortunately, tech has the solutions to many of our remote work problems - as we’ll explore in this guide.
#1 Lack of Socialization
One of the most significant challenges many people struggle with when working remotely is the lack of socialization.
A feeling of isolation is common when working from home as you’re deprived of the myriad opportunities for connection you’d find in the office, such as:
- Morning briefings
- Water cooler chats
- Shared lunch conversations
- Tea breaks
- Post-work gatherings
All of a sudden, you go from seeing or hearing a coworker every few minutes to sitting in a room in your house in silence. This transition can be jarring for employees, and there’s every likelihood that it leads to a fragmented, disjointed workforce.
With few opportunities to connect, employees can feel disengaged from the company and from their coworkers.
What’s more, this lack of socialization and the constant exchange of ideas that comes with in-person working could inhibit creativity and innovation. It’s not a stretch to suggest that being in different locations makes it challenging for teams to put their heads together and brainstorm new ideas
Tech Solution: Video Conferencing Software
One of the best ways to solve both the lack of connection and creativity issues brought about by remote work is through video conferencing software.
With a tool like Zoom, you can:
- Bring coworkers closer together with virtual social events
- Encourage creativity through brainstorming sessions
- Have regular meetings and check-ins to avoid burnout
Notable mention here should go to digital whiteboard solutions such as Miro, which aim to bridge the gap created by remote work through providing coworkers a means of collaborating creatively at distance.
#2 Limited Communication
Going hand-in-hand with the sense of isolation that can come with working remotely is the lack of clear communication options.
Unless your company is fully equipped for remote work, it can quickly become challenging to communicate effectively with staff and employees. Not only do you need systems for communicating up and down the chain of command, but also for team members and departments to chat and collaborate effectively.
Without the benefit of a morning meeting or your boss coming over to your desk to check in on what you’re doing, there’s more emphasis on autonomy in a remote work setting. This is fine and should be encouraged in some ways, but when it comes to working together on a project, you can’t rely on individuals working in silos.
To streamline processes and workflows, you need quick and efficient online ways to get your message across.
Tech Solution: Communication Tool
The most commonly cited communication tool for remote work is Slack, and for good reason, you can use it to streamline operational efficiency across the board. Using tips and tricks, you can cut down the time you spend communicating with team members so you can focus on the work at hand.
Slack facilitates inter-departmental communication through context-specific channels, so you can freely switch between channels as needed. This removes the issue of losing key information in lengthy email chains or instant message conversations.
#3 Fewer Career Opportunities
For many companies, the transition to remote work is a lengthy ongoing process, and as such, there’s still a long way to go.
One problem that is commonly reported in remote work jobs is the perceived lack of career opportunities. When companies lack robust performance metrics for a virtual work environment, it becomes much more difficult to identify candidates for a promotion or raise.
Furthermore, there are fewer opportunities for employees to benefit from mentorship. It’s harder to manage the logistics of a mentorship program in a remote work setting, and as such, many remote employees aren’t receiving the same level of training as they would in the office.
Tech Solution: Employee Monitoring Software
One of the best ways to realign your performance metrics for remote work is to use employee remote monitoring software. Rather than restructuring your entire business, simply change the way you track KPIs.
When you use a track work time app like Insightful, you can:
- Track employee time
- Access real-time data insights
- Identify productivity trends
With all the time data you collect, you can establish a remote performance management practice that makes worker monitoring straightforward. Build out performance reports for your employees and identify who’s struggling and may benefit from mentorship or training.
The best user activity monitoring software will allow you to track employee activity on computers in real-time, so there can be no doubt as to how much every remote employee gets done each day.
#4 Diffused Focus
In most office environments, workstations are designed for a singular focus.
At your office desk with your computer, you may even have dividers on either side of you that act as blinders blocking out peripheral activity. On the flip side, your home environment likely wasn’t designed for productivity, and as such, it’s rife with distractions.
Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have a spare room to work in, and your desk faces a window - great!
But then you find yourself getting distracted as you watch the postman drive around the neighborhood and wonder whether you should expect a delivery. That’s not to mention your landline which could ring at any moment, or your phone, which is likely sitting on your desk ready to vibrate and light up with every notification.
When you take your work setup to the coffee shop, you have to contend with people talking loudly, the sound and smell of coffee being brewed, and the possibility of poor Wi-Fi.
Even if you manage to overcome all these distractions, you open up your laptop and realize that you’re not sure what you should work on first.
Is the report due on Friday more important, or should you quickly respond to a few emails?
Or maybe it’s time to make a cup of tea.
Tech Solution: Project Management Software
With project management software, you can help employees focus on what’s important.
Project management solutions provide you with a comprehensive way of organizing project-relevant information, completing tasks as a team, and communicating throughout the process.
With action items popping up in employee inboxes and notifications from team members, it should be obvious what the high-priority tasks are.
Operating in tandem with user monitoring software, project management tools can help you set up a comprehensive process for sustainable productivity you can track. Work trackers make the unknown known, so you can streamline processes and then see the real impact of these changes.