What are common challenges to effective remote work?
Everyone's ability to work from home is different. Personal characteristics and the home environment may dictate how well one works outside of the office. While working from home can have benefits, it has its drawbacks as well.
Time management concerns
It is easy to get distracted at home. Workers might care for children who cannot entertain themselves. Do not forget about unruly pets, or even the dirty dishes or laundry that is piling up and screaming to be washed.
In addition, the same distractions that might appear in the office are at home, too—like social media and web surfing.
In an office setting, the easiest way to communicate with an employee is to simply walk down the hall. When your workforce is home or elsewhere, that interaction is not possible.
Remote workers rely on technology to communicate with one another and access the resources they need. For example, when your team cannot access a workstation, they might not be able to work at all.
Technology pressure points can come anytime and any place. For example, if the internet goes down in a worker's neighborhood, they might not have any backup options.
For as much as employees complain about having to go to work, social interactions have their benefits. When working from home, employees are isolated from their coworkers. Even those who might not enjoy "water cooler talk" may miss the camaraderie of working under the same roof.
How can employers support remote workers?
Finding the right methods to support remote workers can be a challenge. It will vary by industry and even your staff's individual personalities. Ultimately, you have to go through some trial and error to determine the best way to support your team. While you may want to help workers set up a dedicated workspace, below are a few more suggestions that can benefit your remote workers.
Workers communicate by phone and email, but there is something about seeing another person's face while you have a conversation that forges an invaluable connection. Schedule check-ins, if possible, and team meetings to make sure that personal connections are center stage.
Avoid "ignoring" the remote team
If part of your staff works from home and the other part is in the office, you may need to bring the two groups together. Avoid side conversations with people in the room that exclude remote workers.
Give remote workers the resources they need
Some employers assume that a worker has the same tools at home as they do in the office. That is a mistake. Be sure they have hardware, software, and everything else they could need. Sometimes having the basics can go a long way to making work more efficient.
Communication with all team members is essential—regardless of whether they work remotely. Ask your employees if they have everything they need to do their job well. Always check in to make sure everything works okay for them.
How can I keep remote employees engaged and motivated with competing work-life priorities?
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Consistent communication is the best way to keep remote workers engaged. Regular video conferences and calls are helpful, but too many calls can distract. Find the right balance for each team member. Also, make ways for your team to work together, whether through video conferencing, phone calls, cloud computing, or some other technique.
Set clear expectations
Some workers need specific guidelines to thrive in an unfamiliar environment. Clear rules and expectations can go a long way to make sure that remote work is productive for both employee and employer. Flexible work hours may also be a good idea. You may want to develop a Work from Home Policy or Telecommuting Agreement with your remote workers. Also, it may be beneficial to make a standard Time Off Request and clear Vacation Policy.
You may want to include ways for workers to socialize. Social hours and virtual team-building activities can instill a team mentality.
Recognize hard work
Employee recognition is motivational. If you have a worker who has gone above and beyond, recognize them in front of their peers, even if during a team video call.
If you have legal questions about managing your remote employees, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney for affordable legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.