With the current global Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses and employees are having to get to grips with remote working.
This can be a culture shock, both for those that are new to working from home but also to companies that are new to managing such workers. In this guide, we’ll go over the challenges you’re likely to face and how to overcome them.
Like anything in life, the key to success is understanding a problem and making sure you have the tools and know-how to overcome them, so without further ado, let’s look at the potential challenges of a newly remote workforce…
Challenge: No More Face-to-Face
This is a huge concern for a lot of managers when starting to manage employees remotely. Why? Because of the lack of face to face interaction could mean that employees don’t work as hard or on the flip-side that the employee feels as though the manager isn’t there for them. If they have any professional concerns, unable to help them get their work done, when necessary.
Technology makes being there when you’re not there easier than ever. Set up multiple streams of communication – video chats, email, calls, etc. Have regular virtual meetups and make sure you’re staying aware of your staff’s workloads, progress, and concerns.
Give team members specific times of day when you’re able to take calls, making them feel like reaching you is straight forward.
Statistics show that remote workers are generally more productive and by properly managing your workforce and making sure they feel looked after, your output is likely to increase rather than suffer.
Challenge: Customer Service Takes a Back Seat
As well as lack of face to face contact with management, employees now have no face to face contact with customers either. Bringing up a potential issue that customers could become ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
It doesn’t take a business mastermind to see why this is a problem. Lack of good customer service or slow response to incoming leads can cost any business dearly.
The customer (both existing and potential) is of vital importance and making sure your employees understand this is crucial – remote working or not.
Communication between your team and your customers is where customer service will live and die so make sure you’re on top of this aspect of your business. Email analytics tools, like timetoreply‘s will help you understand how your team is performing in this respect.
Enabling you to see response rates and average response times. Giving you peace of mind even when your team isn’t directly in front of you.
Challenge: Teamwork Becomes Harder
Most business endeavors involve teamwork. Whether it’s the marketing team planning a new ad campaign or HR working out a new payroll system. Doing things together ensures the best outcomes. A big worry for businesses transitioning to a remote working situation is that teamwork becomes tricky – with all of your staff suddenly confined to isolation, how will they work together?
Once again, technology is your friend here. Project and team management systems make this sort of work a breeze. Each project can have assignable tasks and team members can share ideas and progress in an instant.
The software will notify team members when updates are made and keep everyone in the loop, allowing the flow of ideas to go unstopped.
Regular video hangouts to keep employees feeling connected will help this no end too and ensure that constructive and progressive conversations are still being had.
Challenge: Accessing Information
You can’t send everyone home with their company hard drive right?
Managers worry that without access to company files and information, work is likely to come to a standstill.
There are numerous options here from setting up a VPN network, using a cloud-based storage system, to issuing staff with external hard drives.
Different solutions have different pros and cons so our advice is to do a little research and find out what will work best for your business model and team structure.
Isolation is difficult. Proven to have negative effects on mental health. Loneliness can also lead to employees feeling demotivated and disconnected from your business. Driving them to look for work elsewhere.
It’s a concern and something that needs to be considered for workers in isolation, fortunately, there are ways to combat this.
Being remote doesn’t mean your staff have to suffer complete isolation.
It’s important to structure your team’s time and working day to allow for social interaction. This means dedicated time where they’re not discussing work or ongoing projects.
Time at ‘the watercooler’ is a vital part of office life – and for good reason. It creates stronger bonds in your team and helps staff feel like a human in the business rather than a cog in a machine.
Start virtual team meetings with 5-10 minutes where the aim is literally just to have a catch-up. How was your weekend? Has anyone seen this thing on Netflix? Other activities can be organized where the aim is solely to socialize. It may seem contrived but it’s proven to have a positive effect on any remote workforce.
Your team having to work remotely might seem new and daunting at first but using the tools available and ensuring regular communication will quickly overcome any initial concerns. You’ll probably end up wondering why you didn’t start sooner.
If you’ve been thrust into a remote working environment, and need an easy tool to stay on top of team productivity and communication, try timetoreply for free, for 7 days. No software, no change to workflows. Just the solution you need now.
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