Is checking in with your employers via Zoom and other digital collaboration tools your new way of life? That’s the new normal for many employers.
In 2022, about 50 percent of the U.S. workforce works at least part of the time remotely. Although working remotely was gradually gaining popularity in the 2010s, it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic started that it took off.
While remote work has big benefits, it’s not without its fair share of troubles. Remote work challenges certainly make it hard for you to run an efficient, profitable business.
If you’re managing a remote team and would like to learn more about some of the main challenges, you’ll face and how to deal with them, get comfortable and read on!
1. Getting the Right Technology
For the uninitiated, remote team management might sound as easy as logging on to Zoom and having video meetings. Well, the tool is a key part of any remote work setup, but as an employer, you need a lot more than video conferencing software.
The major challenge organizations are facing is finding the right technologies. And without proper tech tools (both hardware and software), you won’t meet production goals. It’s not that remote work technology is currently underdeveloped. No.
With the rise of the digital age, more and more employers are looking for ways to ditch the traditional time clock and move to a best time clock app for construction. This can be a great way to reduce costs and increase efficiency, but it can also pose some challenges. One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that all employees are accurately recording their time. With a time clock app, employers can set up alerts and notifications to remind employees to clock in and out. By taking advantage of time clock app for construction’s many features, employers can overcome the challenges of remote work and make sure that their business runs smoothly.
The industry has everything you need to run a remote organization. Whether you need a tool for cloud computing, unified communications, project management, or administrative automation, there is a fistful of options at your disposal.
However, many business owners simply don’t have the expertise to know what technology is best for their organization. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could end up splurging money on the wrong tool.
This challenge can be overcome by hiring a remote work technology consultant. This professional will audit your business operations and recommend the remote work tools you need.
2. The Cost of Remote Work Technology
As if finding the right remote work tools isn’t hard enough, businesses have to dig deeper into their pockets to afford them. Most providers of software solutions for remote work offer trial or free versions, but these plans come with limited functionality.
To unleash the full power of collaboration software, for example, you have to pay a premium. Enterprise plans don’t come cheap, and the pricing is often pegged on the number of users.
So, if your organization has a sizeable number of employees, you’re going to feel the pinch of providing all the needed tools. And, don’t forget that many businesses were caught unprepared by the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing a relentless, airborne virus, many were left scrambling to set up remote stations. Good for you if you had a fund for unexpected expenses, but many small businesses simply didn’t have the financial capacity to finance a 100% transition to remote work.
The good news is the pandemic is easing, and workers are returning to the office. This is a reprieve for organizations that are reluctant to embrace a remote workforce. But if you want to keep your remote teams, you simply have to budget for the cost of remote work technology.
Plus, in the long-term, it’s likely that the cost of going remote will be offset by the savings you will make elsewhere. For example, if 50 percent of your office staff goes remote permanently, you could move into a small office, thus saving money on office rent.
3. New Hire Recruitment
In this new era of work, recruiting new employees is a big challenge for many organizations. Many employers are accustomed to the old way of hiring, which involves posting a job ad, reviewing applications, and inviting successful applicants for office interviews. Easy life, right?
In a world of remote work, you have to hire people without having any physical interactions. This can make it difficult to judge elements such as body language and interpersonal skills.
Even verifying resumes and other documents and building rapport becomes an uphill task. There are two approaches you can take with remote recruitment: hands-off or hands-on.
A hands-off approach involves outsourcing the function to a staffing agency. They’ll take over everything from advertising open positions to interviewing applicants and even onboarding them.
A hands-on approach means you’re responsible for hiring your employees. This can be tedious, especially if you have other responsibilities, but it saves you money and puts you in complete control of the hiring process.
Fortunately, from online job boards to video conferencing apps, there are technology solutions that can help make the hiring process easier. If you need help verifying identity cards, resumes, and other hiring documents, there’s remote I-9 verification software for that.
4. Onboarding New Employees
Onboarding is a multi-step process designed to help organizations bring in new hires, train them, and ensure they’re well-equipped for their roles.
There’s no doubt that onboarding is easier when there is one-on-one training. You can even pair each new hire with a mentor to help with the process.
Remote work introduces complications to onboarding. How do you effectively ensure new hires have reviewed all the documents they need to sign before starting on the job? Is training someone over the internet effective, especially when it’s a technical role?
Regardless of the onboarding challenges your organization is facing. You just have to find ways to leverage the power of technology. Use document signing software to handle all the paperwork that new hires need to fill out and sign.
Create detailed training materials, including explainer videos, to help your hires learn and get familiar with their roles. Soon enough, you’ll realize that remote onboarding is efficient and saves you time and money.
5. Employee Financial Welfare
It’s not just organizations that are feeling the financial heat of going remote. Your employees are feeling the pinch, too.
Research shows there’s been a $40-$50 increase in the cost of energy for people who’re working from home. There’s also the cost of home internet and setting up a workstation. Some have had to move into bigger homes so they can have adequate space for a home office.
In states where employers aren’t required to reimburse their employees for such work-related expenses, employees have no choice but to figure out the cost of working remotely on their own.
Regardless of your state laws, if you aren’t offering financial support to your remote employees, you’re doing your business more harm than good. If you have employees who’re struggling to pay for their work-related expenses, it’s likely that their morale and focus will decline. Their productivity will take a hit as well.
In some cases, an employee can choose to quit your company and find a job with a company that offers additional financial support. Or they could even move to a state like California, where it’s a legal requirement for employers to reimburse remote employees for work-related expenses. This can lead to high employee turnover in your organization.
The solution to this challenge is a no-brainer. Whether state law compels you to or not, it’s a smart business decision to help your employees meet their work-related needs.
6. Employee Supervision
A major reason many employers don’t fancy remote work is it denies them the ability to effectively supervise their employees. And, let’s face it, supervision is super important. As an employer, you see people say they can work under minimum supervision only for you to realize they can’t get anything done unless you’re on their toes.
That’s the hard truth, unfortunately. Most employees need constant supervision; otherwise, they will down tools and collect free money.
Now, in the office, it’s easy to keep an eye on your workers. Even when you don’t follow them around, they’ll naturally know the boss is watching and get down to work.
When employees are working from home, supervising them gets complicated. You can’t really ask them to log in to Zoom from 9 to 5.
To solve this challenge, you have to start by understanding why employees love working remotely. It gives them greater autonomy and control. They want to get the work done, but mostly on their terms.
Night owls can work through the night and sleep in as much as they want. Early birds can enjoy the quiet of the wee hours of the morning as they crush their work goals.
So, perhaps you don’t need to worry about closely supervising your remote workers. As long as everyone is meeting their productivity goals, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Collaboration tools facilitate communication in remote work setups. Employers and employees can share information quickly and efficiently.
However, since remote work affords employees some schedule flexibility, communication problems can arise as a result. Picture sending an urgent Slack message to an employee only to find that they have turned off their notifications. This means they won’t get the message immediately.
Plus, working from home doesn’t necessarily mean people have to work from their residences. They can travel and work from different locations. This can create time-zone differences, making prompt communication difficult.
Solving communication issues when you’re managing remote teams is a matter of policy, really. You need to clearly define communication expectations for your remote employees. For example, you can make it company policy for all remote employees to be available on the company’s communication channels at least a few times during work hours.
You can also prevent communication problems during the hiring process. If you’re bringing in new employees who have poor communication skills, don’t be surprised to run into communication issues with them.
Gathering employee feedback will also help you find effective solutions to communication challenges. Ask them about their preferred methods of communication and act on the feedback.
8. IT Security
Did you know employees are the weakest link in IT security? This is a big concern, especially now that data breaches are becoming more common and more disastrous.
There are various measures organizations can implement to improve cybersecurity. But, when you factor in the human element, you realize your organization’s cybersecurity risks increase when employees are working from home.
At the office, you can easily enforce data security policies. With remote teams, you have no control over things like the Security of the internet networks your employees are using. In fact, a negligent employee can log into company systems on public Wi-Fi.
Or, a remote employee can misplace a laptop or other work device and fail to report. If the device falls into the wrong hands, your company data could be at risk.
What can you do to reduce the IT security risks remote employees pose? First, training. Cybersecurity training raises your employees’ awareness of data breaches. It also equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to identify cyber threats and respond accordingly.
Second, create and enforce IT security policies. For example, it should be a breach of the policy if an employee uses public networks to access company systems. Lay out clear consequences for employees who violate these policies.
Deal With Remote Work Challenges Decisively
Remote work is the future of work. So remote work challenges aren’t going to die a natural death. Whether your organization is struggling with technology, recruitment, communication, IT Security, or other challenges of remote employee work, it’s your responsibility to find effective solutions.
With this guide, you now have a clear picture of some of today’s most common remote work challenges. Make use of the suggested solutions and keep tabs on our blog for more workplace advice.