At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, working from home has become more than just a trend; it's a new necessity for companies of all sizes across the world.
With this dramatic shift in working environments, there are thousands of business owners, managers, leaders who find themselves suddenly managing a completely remote team. The transition can be scary, especially if it's the first time you've ever had to do so and didn't have a lot of time to prepare.
Although it is always preferable to designate new tools and establish clear policies and training in advance, under rapidly changing circumstances, adequate preparation may not be feasible. Fortunately, there are best practices, philosophies and tools that managers can use without tremendous effort to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees and teams.
Everyday Challenges of Working Remotely
Working remotely isn’t only challenging for business owners and managers. It presents an entirely new set of factors that can make remote work especially difficult. Some of the challenges incurred when working remotely include:
Lack of Direct Supervision
This is a challenge not only for the employee but also the manager. Managers worry that employees will not work as hard and many employees, on the other hand, struggle with limited access to managerial assistance.
Loss of Access to Information
Simply put: increased distance raises the amount of time it takes to receive and send responses. Typically, the biggest shock to newly remote employees is the amount of time and effort it takes to locate information in shared folders or directly from coworkers.
For the majority of remote employees, this is the toughest aspect of the job. While growing up and throughout their career, employees are surrounded by team members, different departments, and even different companies. This newfound isolation can be especially tragic over the long haul, causing an employee to feel less “belonging” which can end with an increased intention to leave the company.
In short: improper working conditions and children. Just like many parents, children are domiciled at home to attend online classes. With this comes its own set of challenges; parents are now a parent, IT support, an employee, and any other role that needs to be filled. Aside from parenting, many employees are likely underprepared to have a full workstation setup at home. The distraction of a wobbly dining room chair or squeaky fan can ultimately result in many hours not being worked over the course of months.
Overcoming the Challenges
Even though working remotely puts employees in a tough position, there are relatively quick and inexpensive things that business owners and managers can do to help their employees.
Have Regular Check-ins
This might sound like a no-brainer, but establishing regular communication and touchpoints with employees is critical. During your check-ins it's important that you listen as much as you talk. It’s important that your employees know that they can consult with you, receive guidance, and know that their concerns and questions will be heard and responded to.
Provide Several Communication Tools
Long gone are the days of stopping by someone's desk to clear up a quick question. In order to survive working remotely, it’s crucial that you have at least three different forms of communication: email, instant messaging and video conferencing. However, something that’s often overlooked with the addition of these tools is their purpose or intent. Be sure to provide guidance and instruction on which tool handles different forms of communication.
Setup Virtual Team Socials
They sound cheesy, but virtual hangouts help establish and/or maintain the team culture. Experienced virtual managers report that these virtual socials help to reduce tension, feelings of isolation and promote a sense of belonging. One of the easiest ways to establish some basic social interaction is to set aside a few minutes either at the beginning or end of meetings to talk about non-work related topics.
Desktop.com is actually the ideal organization and management tool for all of the great apps and online resources that you and your team use every day. It allows you to create shareable desktops (one for each department/team, depending on the size of your organization) with the relevant apps neatly organized by category, as well as folders for links and documents. You can also tag your bookmarks for further sorting and searchability benefits.
Through Desktop.com’s ‘App Store’, you can easily explore and add apps to any Desktop from a growing selection of more than 1500 integrated apps.
Desktop.com improves the way web tools are used and accessed by your team. With features such as access management, external guest invitations, drag-and-drop functionality, SSO and secure multi-factor-authentication, Desktop.com ensures that you reap all the benefits that web-based resources can offer.