- More companies are embracing remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Working remotely varies greatly from working in a traditional system of work.
- While there are clear benefits, each remote employee will face unique challenges as well, and managers should be aware of these.
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As the whole world experiences lockdowns and quarantines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more companies are embracing remote work.
I have been working remotely since June 2015 and as a manager since April 2017. Before I started working from home, I have worked in a corporate environment for 4 years, being able to experience both working in the office and from home.
Working remotely varies greatly from working in a traditional system of work. While there are clear benefits, each remote employee will face unique challenges as well, and managers should be aware of these.
Without any previous experience working remotely, the challenges the remote employees will face can be hard to anticipate. As a manager, what are the challenges that you should be aware of?
Over the past three years, Buffer has been putting out the State of Remote Work report, and they have seen two unique struggles remain in the top three: the difficulties with collaboration/communication, and with loneliness.
Collaboration and Communication
Although we have countless resources to help remote employees better collaborate and connect, these resources may mainly be aimed at helping teams from all distances. As Buffer found in the results of their survey, many people are starting to work remotely while their company is still office-based. If not everyone on the team acts in the same way, then the challenge is always there.
As a manager, if there’s not enough face-to-face communication, in messages between you and your employee, it can become difficult to sense intent. When it’s just text, it’s harder to understand a message, or you don’t know it as well as other in-office employees.
When you’re contacting an employee, they ‘re likely to infer negative intent because you’re saying something they may interpret as a “threat”, like feedback, suggestion, or questions, and the same is goes for you.
A simple way to overcome this is to convert extended conversations into a phone call to prevent misunderstandings and help you move together and understand each other quickly.
This is without any doubt one of the top challenges facing all remote workers. However, it is important to note that the result of the report does not imply that remote work causes loneliness even though it is selected as a top struggle for remote workers.
Socializing and being around others is central to the way human beings evolved. Not surprisingly, it’s a major health factor that affects not only our emotions but our physical health as well.
Be aware of this, as their manager. Do what you can to engage with the rest of the team and interact with them socially whenever possible. Encourage them to get out of the house when they’re not working.
With all these challenges, managers have the power to overcome this by taking steps such as building trust and relationships with their remote employees by making time to get to know them and by dedicating regular 1-on-1s with everyone.