The transition to remote work isn’t always as seamless as many would have you believe.
An often painted picture of remote work is one of blissful, uninterrupted productivity where teams collaborate effortlessly and home comforts get you through the work day.
The reality rarely matches up perfectly with this picture, though.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at 4 common work from home fails, and how to avoid them in your business. In addition, discover how software to monitor computer activity can help.
1. Awkward Communication
We’ve all been there before: you load up your Zoom, comfortable with this new medium of workplace communication, but soon feel awkward as coworkers accidentally talk over one another and video feeds pop in and out of view.
Virtual communication is a cornerstone of any work from home environment, yet that doesn’t prevent it from being an awkward experience at times. There’s something about the lack of in-person conversation, complete with body language cues, that can make it feel somewhat unnatural.
It isn’t just live video calls that can cause issues though.
Many work from home fails also come from asynchronous communication methods. Going back and forth with coworkers on a messaging platform or in a project management tool can simplify collaboration, but can sometimes leave you scratching your head.
Without context, messages can seem passive-aggressive, rude, or just downright confusing. That’s part and parcel of the remote work environment for many teams, and it can lead to a lot of miscommunications.
How to address it:
The best way to solve issues with awkward virtual communication is to understand on a deeper level what each channel is best for. When you can organize the way you communicate based on what makes the most sense for the situation or type of information, you’ll be much less likely to run into trouble.
For example, you may determine that your text-based communication is best suited to urgent, punchy messaging. Move away from typing up long paragraphs to coworkers where there’s a higher risk of misinterpretation, and stick with short and sharp messages with clear intent.
For lengthier, more nuanced communication, you can either create a prerecorded video message using a tool like Loom, or jump on a video call and get your message across that way. When there’s more to say, it’s important that coworkers can see your facial expressions and body language, as they can add a lot to the meaning behind the words.
2. Disjointed Collaboration
Closely tied to the way you communicate remotely is how you collaborate and coordinate as a team. When the physical office fades away and becomes replaced with a series of computer screens and software solutions, any form of collaboration naturally becomes much more challenging.
In the work from home era, there are no water cooler chats, casual coworker conversations, or team leader check-ins. As such, all ties between team members have effectively been severed, and all you’re left with is a series of digital avatars behind screens.
Not only does it become more difficult to coordinate as a team, but you also have to find a way to bring every individual together and create a feeling of closeness to reach a sense of harmonious collaboration in lieu of in-person communication.
How to address it:
If your team is suffering from disjointed collaboration, the best remedy is clarity.
Moving to a remote work environment removes all the social cues coworkers were accustomed to in the office. It also flips the script when it comes to working together, as all forms of in-person meetings and brainstorm sessions are off the agenda.
By clearly laying out your methods and means for effective collaboration, you can whip up a highly-functioning remote team in no time.
Here are some quick tips for getting started:
- Establish context-specific communication channels
- Use project management software to coordinate on specific tasks and projects
- Track productivity and performance and identify trends with office monitoring software
You should also share key information surrounding workflows and processes so that each team member knows exactly what role they play on a day-to-day basis.
3. Watered-Down Work Culture
If the definition of failure is to not succeed, then is it any surprise that companies that experience a lot of work from home fails often suffer from a watered-down work culture?
If employees don’t fully understand what their role is and how they fit into the bigger picture at work, then they’re set up to fail. A poorly-defined work culture is also highly likely to lead employees down the path to disengagement, which is a surefire recipe for mistakes and performance dips.
How to address it:
To get long-term buy-in for a remote work culture, you need to lay out your work culture from day one in no uncertain terms.
What does that mean exactly?
Start by thinking about what your company values.
- Is protecting the environment at the heart of everything you do?
- Is your goal to provide the consumer with a life-enhancing product or experience?
- Do you believe that ongoing professional development and opportunities are the key to a harmonious work environment?
If you’re not sure where to start, brainstorm your company’s core values and consider how they might tie into a remote work context.
Create a robust remote work culture that makes employees excited to show up to work each day, and one that entices top talent. The more your employees align with your company values and vision for the future, the more you’ll get from them.
As an employer monitoring internet usage, you can use time data to help support employees and contribute to a strong work culture where nobody feels undervalued. By monitoring computer use and turning to monitor internet activity software, you can ensure values are upheld and your company culture remains robust.
4. Autonomy Abuse
While an optimistic outlook on human nature would suggest that everyone wants to give their all every day and perform to the best of their abilities, the reality is that everyone is different.
As a result, when you create a work from home environment, there’s a strong possibility that the increase in autonomy can lead to more idle time and an abuse of work hours.
It’s not always the case that some employees feel like they can get away with slacking off more at home, but distractions are rife away from the office and this can make procrastination easy to fall into.
When you trust employees with more independence, you run the risk of fracturing your existing work dynamic and creating a company of individuals.
How to address it:
Empowering employees with a greater sense of independence doesn’t have to lead to time theft. Provided you put the right systems in place, and encourage employee engagement with your work culture, you should see a rise rather than a fall in workday productivity.
One of the best tools for mitigating the risk of idle time and improving your remote performance management is team monitoring software.
A work hours log app like Insightful gives you the ability to track every individual in your remote team based on how much time they spend on work-related tasks. In the work track app you can see which apps they use most frequently and the websites they visit, and build a robust performance tracking system.
Knowing that their time is being tracked also creates individual accountability, so you’ll likely notice that employees make better use of their time when you enable time tracking.