The wonders of technology are increasingly providing us with new techniques of getting the job done, notably through flexible working, telecommuting and remote working. Remote working is wonderful for various reasons such as increased overall productivity, financial savings on technical equipment and office space. On the other hand, remote employees can cut down on both money and time spent on transportation as well as enjoy the freedom of working from their location of choice.
However, it comes with its fair share of challenges. There are remote employee challenges but the main ones include the following:
Most remote employees experience a lack of community as well as a significant disconnect from the company culture as a whole. This is because there are very few opportunities for them to both engage and connect with their peers. Furthermore, there is a lack of visibility of the business values, mission and direction in overall. Usually, this results in reports of remote employees experiencing loneliness, isolation and even dissatisfaction with their roles.
This challenge can be solved by a company actively building a sense of culture for all its remote employees. This can be done by bringing everybody together annually or even twice in a year. Alternatively, companies can use the services of effective video conferencing software like ezTalks Meetings to encourage such connections. This will allow remote employees to build interpersonal relationships and even communicate better via non-verbal cues by seeing their peers. In addition to using effective video conferencing software such as ezTalks Cloud Meeting, companies can use their intranet or social tools to provide insights and updates of their culture, values and vision, business updates, share employee recognition and even daily office proceedings to facilitate a sense of inclusion.
Remote employees may overwork by putting more hours compared to their in-house counterparts in an effort to show productivity and be visible. This means that remote employees will experience challenges in prioritizing work as well as gaining insight into broader picture business objectives or priorities. This can ultimately result in dissatisfaction, burnout and finally in staff turnover. Furthermore, lack of physical presence and visibility can make remote employees to miss out on day-to-day recognition awarded to their in-house counterparts.
This challenge can be solved by the clear definition of deliverables and expectations. This can be achieved by establishing check-in points or benchmarks that managers and remote employees can utilize to discuss achievements and progress. In addition, centralized project management or digital collaboration tools can be used to provide increased visibility concerning where remote employees are up to as well as their work. Intranets or social platforms can facilitate peer-to-peer recognition, this ensures that even remote employees become visible and are celebrated in public arenas.
Remote employees face very different risks from those based in the office when they are working home alone, in shared spaces or when they are using public networks to access business systems. This means that information, data and employees themselves suffer from a security risk when working remotely.
These security challenges of managing remote employees can be tackled in three ways:
i. A dedicated friend can be assigned by the company to always check-in with a remote employee to ensure their emotional and physical wellbeing.
ii. A company can work with their IT department in order to build a security culture for their business. This can be done by establishing best practices for accessing information, protecting information and for unifying their remote employees. All remote employees should then be sufficiently trained on information security and the importance of installing protective software like antivirus emphasized to them.
iii. Companies should also develop emergency check-in protocols to be followed in case or a crisis or physical disaster.
Remote employees have a high likelihood of being victims of home interruptions. Lack of a physical boundary between home environment and work environment can lead to longer working hours or even unpredictable working time, increased stress levels as well as strain on both professional and personal relationships.
To solve this problem, companies can carry out additional training and support in regard to productivity, time management as well as the ability to meet expectations. This is for the employees who are sourced from in-house. However, it is always advisable to hire remote employees rather than to roll out remote working for the existing in-house employees. This is because possess experience in telecommunication and are therefore better equipped to meet such challenges. Furthermore, expectations can be clarified and establishing a protocol that indicates when remote employees are actually working. Remote employees can also easily set up a dedicated space either externally or at home to establish a physical boundary between work and life.
This has to be among the greatest difficulties that remote employees experience. There are logistical challenges that people who work in different countries or time zones experience.
The best way by which to coordinate remote employees is to utilize various digital channels. There is instant messaging, forums, fail-safe mail and video call software like ezTalks Cloud Meeting. These can streamline communication by eliminating these barriers. This will allow managers to reach out on a daily basis and for remote employees to receive support and ask questions.
It should be noted that the above challenges of managing remote employees are not exhaustive as there are many more.
Most remote employee challenges have practical solutions that are fairly easy to implement, they just need dedication and will power from a company's management.