At the very beginning of 2020, the coronavirus outbreak has struck the entire world. Many countries have been forced to declare a state of emergency and introduce strict measures to keep the virus from spreading. The consequences of this rather unusual situation remain to be determined in the months to come. However, it has, without a doubt, taken a heavy toll on the industry. To ensure their firm’s survival from the crisis, many employers have asked their employees to work remotely. Some believe connecting all employees through the intranet dashboard is the future of work. For this reason, let’s see what remote working looks like in 2020.
Most Common Difficulties of Remote Working
Many employees aren’t used to working remotely. That is why the new working conditions might come as a shock. However, like with any other change, it takes time and effort to properly adjust to special circumstances. Before introducing this work arrangement, managers should familiarize themselves with the challenges they take on with this change. With proper preparation, it won’t affect their performance and engagement at the virtual workplace. Here are some of the most common challenges of telecommuting.
Homes are usually places where people relax after a long and hard day at work. For this reason, they aren’t particularly designed for office spaces. Additionally, with most countries in lockdown, working parents have to divide their time among work tasks and parenting responsibilities. Unexpected transition to a flexible workplace can cause a lack of focus because of so many distractions at home.
Lack of Connection and Collaboration
Most remote workers complain about spending too much time trying to find work-related information. Asking questions and getting them answered sometimes seems like a mission impossible. Being kept in the dark can severely diminish their sense of connection and belonging. As a result, their performance and efficiency are reduced.
Lack of Face To Face Interaction
What concerns both employees and managers the most is the lack of face to face communication. While a virtual workplace may seem like a good idea, it lacks real interaction among employees. Managers are often worried about the efficiency of their employees. On the other hand, employees feel their access to communication and managerial support is rather limited.
Remote workers, especially the new ones, miss the social aspect of the workplace. While social isolation and loneliness may not pose an issue for introverts, that isn’t the case with extroverts. Not being able to chat and socialize with their coworkers may negatively reflect on their productivity and mental health.
What Can Employers Do To Support Remote Workers
Although remote work comes with certain challenges, they are still effective ways for easing the transition. Some of them are the following:
- Motivate and support — Remote working is stressful in itself, even more with the current pandemic. To avoid any additional stressful situations in the workplace, managers should provide emotional support and empathize with their employees. They can struggle with work tasks or not cope well with the sudden transition. In that case, managers should offer them help and much-needed motivation. Assuring them everything will be fine and expressing interest in their well-being will make them feel valued and appreciated.
- Set rules — before transitioning to telecommuting, employers and employees should agree on a certain set of rules. They should address matters such as preferred communication channels, working hours, and scheduling regular meetings. Also, setting up expectations right from the start is highly efficient. It keeps everyone on the same page and eliminates any possible misunderstandings. Lastly, managers should monitor internal communication to make sure information flows without interruption.
- Arrange daily check-ins — having daily meetings is good for business as it boosts employee morale. These meetings can be either one on one or team ones, depending on what the agenda requires. It is important to be consistent with daily check-ins because it gives the employees a great opportunity for engagement and brainstorming.
- Encourage social interaction — although employees no longer work together in a joint physical space, they can still interact and socialize. Managers should always spare a few minutes before a meeting or after and allow employees to chat about non-work-related topics. Asking them about their weekends or interests gives the employees a sense of belonging and reduces alienation.
- Agree on different communication channels —Remote working demands high technology and advanced tools and devices. Email alone is simply not sufficient for all communication in the workplace. Using other platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Slack ensures effective internal communication and keeps everyone posted.
On the whole, one good thing has come out of this whole mess caused by the coronavirus. That is an increase in remote workers. Although this work arrangement comes with many obstacles employers have to face, it surely pays off in the long run. Even more so, as people expect remote working to reshape the concept of work and become a regular norm in the future. Remote working has been a major buzzword for years now and it seems it is finally receiving all the attention it deserves.