Remote work has grown in popularity over the past decade as more people turn to freelancing and independent contracting as a means of earning money without having to leave their current job or sell their home and move to another city. While you might think that working remotely would allow you to communicate better with your coworkers, you may be surprised to learn that there are certain barriers that prevent remote workers from communicating as efficiently as they’d like – and some of these barriers aren’t even technological. So what gives?
Here are 7 roadblocks that remote workers face when communicating online and what you can do to get rid of them.
Technology is part of everyone’s daily routine, so it makes sense that remote workers are often expected to be as connected to their jobs and coworkers as office-bound staff. But more isn’t always better. Using too many apps and online tools can be cumbersome and distracting, which can make remote working less effective.
The key is striking a balance between being productive—and happy—without letting online communication become an obstacle instead of a tool. Hone in on the tools you need, and don't get sucked into utilizing everything at your disposal if you don't have to. Sometimes less is best.
2. Screen Addiction
The very technology that helps remote workers do their jobs better is often to blame for keeping them distracted. Screens are a wonderful thing, but it's too easy to become glued to the work (and fun side content) we see. This addiction can cause many types of issues when interacting with colleagues in real-time, such as blurred focus and an inability to tune out others during meetings or time blocks set aside for focused work.
To mitigate these problems, make sure to recommend that everyone has a dedicated space with minimal distractions—free from gadgets, notifications, and chatter—and schedule meetings at times that work for everyone.
3. Lack of Empathy
If you and your team members live in different places, you’re no doubt familiar with a certain set of hurdles. One example - not being able to read someone else’s body language or pick up on social cues during meetings. This lack of empathy can lead to misunderstandings that delay progress and hurt relationships with customers and colleagues.
Being virtual doesn't mean being alone though. Work toward a greater understanding of each other, which means spending more happy hours and quality time with your team. Consider trying a video call just to hang out, ‘or a dedicated chat channel just for personal talk to know each other. A happy team makes for a happy job!
4. Negative Self-Talk
If you find yourself constantly telling yourself that you're not doing enough, it's time to change the way you think. After all, there's a good chance that your self-talk is actually hindering progress rather than helping it. As work continues to become more mobile, so too does the job title of remote worker. Today, many professionals can -- and do -- work from home at least part of the time. More often than not, working remotely makes for happier employees who can better balance their lives without worrying about having to hop in a car every morning to drive an hour or two into an office where they'll likely end up spending most of their day sitting in front of a computer screen.
Instead of telling yourself you're not doing the right work, tell yourself what you can do, and look for opportunities to grow to not only improve yourself, but the company as well.
5. Always on Doesn't Mean You’re Working All the Time
The ever-present expectation of being available 24/7 can make it difficult to work without distractions. Being accessible to your coworkers, colleagues, and clients while you’re away from the office puts unnecessary pressure on you. If something comes up at the last minute, you feel like you need to respond right away. Having a sense of time passing is key for concentration and focus.
There’s nothing wrong with staying in touch when you're remote, but block time for yourself to work rather than being available all the time. Otherwise it becomes hard to get in a productive state of mind for work, and then projects start to slip through the cracks.
6. Fear of Rejection
We've all been there. That fear of realizing you don't know how to do something when asked of you. On one hand, it can be a fun challenge to overcome, but it can also be a hindrance if you bite off more than you can chew. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you don’t know what to do, and don’t be shy about admitting you don’t know how to do something.
Having developed a network of other employees and remote workers who can lend advice and support when you need it most is important to growing your skillset. Just remember not to take rejection personally! If you are struggling with getting your work done or feel like your performance has dropped off, then chances are that someone else may be struggling as well. It might seem scary at first to reach out for help, but doing so could make all the difference in your ability to succeed.
7. Communication Isn't One-Way
Communication is a two-way street. When people don’t feel listened to, they’re likely to end up feeling lost or unappreciated, which makes them less productive and efficient in their current position. Open lines of communication are absolutely critical for companies that work with remote employees. But just having an open line of communication isn’t enough.
Communicate with your team more frequently. Before you can understand why effective online collaboration is so important, you need to understand what exactly goes into remote collaboration when you are not in person with your team on a daily basis. Listen to people's needs and concerns, and work with them to create a better system that everyone can work in.
How To Remove Communication Roadblocks
Integrating Desktop.com for your organization allows your team to have customizable digital workspaces for apps, links, and communication - all in one place. A shared view and space brings remote teams closer together, limits context switching and tech stack confusion. By creating different desktop dashboards for yourself, your team and departments, you ensure secure accessibility to key resources for everyone on the team. It also allows you to keep all conversations conveniently organized within the same space, accessible for everyone 24/7 from any device, removing any communication obstacles that stand in your way while creating a consistent place for all employees to find the assistance they need.