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Why Remote Working is Not For Everyone

By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

Why Remote Working is Not For Everyone

Remote working is gaining in popularity, especially due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic. But how do management teams support their employees to fulfill their job roles when they’re not in the office? For business owners, the key to building a strong workforce is by implementing a strong strategy to manage their telecommuters. 

By discovering the disadvantages of working away from the office, you can learn how to implement technology and techniques to ensure that all of your team can adapt to new ways of working. In this article, we'll examine why remote working is not for everyone and look at how you can help the people that struggle. 

1. Is It Hard to Work Remotely?

Imagine not having to get up every morning and go into the office. It's a tempting prospect, and with the digital nomad culture at its peak, millennials especially look for remote opportunities. Regardless of this, there are many pitfalls of remote working. People can find it challenging to concentrate and lack the motivation they would have in a physical office. 

Remote work requires a lot of self-motivation and confidence. When you're in an office environment, you know that you're there to perform your duties each time you go into work. Working from home means you have to avoid distractions, focus on your job, and set yourself strict rules. 

You also have to ensure your employees are performing their duties, which is particularly tricky when you can't see them. Social people particularly find that working from home is overrated and realize that the cons outweigh the pros. 

Remote management teams often decide to create a remote environment to save on office costs and adapt to the busy modern lifestyle. However, they soon discover that while remote working has many pros, there are also some distinct disadvantages. 

2. Disadvantages of Remote Work

It's clear that a remote work arrangement isn't for everyone, but how can you tell if working from home is suitable for your employees? Here are some disadvantages remote work brings for management teams: 

  • Lack of Human Interaction - Employees often find it difficult to function when they feel isolated. 
  • Interruptions at Home - Children, pets, mobiles, and general lack of motivation. 
  • Retention and Efficiency - Remote work often attracts many freelancers, and employers find that they lack the same dedication full-time employees possess. 
  • Conflict Management - Hiring people from different countries can cause cultural clashes.
  • Lack of Clarity About Company Culture - A company culture is vital to set expectations for employees, but it's challenging to create and convey that culture in a remote environment. 

There are distinct disadvantages of remote working, but understanding them is key to being able to implement successful strategies. As a manager, it's your job to resolve common issues, and while remote team management is difficult, it's possible with the right techniques.

2.1. Lack of Human Interaction

While some people enjoy working with no distractions, others find it hard because there's less opportunity for creative inspiration. One way some people handle remote working is to visit their local coffee shop to take in the background noise, but in these uncertain times, that isn't possible. Covid-19 is responsible for changing the way people work in and out of the office, and isolation is unavoidable.

Many companies realize that they need to implement remote team management techniques to supply their employees with proper levels of social interaction. Some common ways include using Zoom for meetings and having a company slack channel to encourage team members to communicate. 

It can also be beneficial to hold daily check-ins so that your employees can meet up and talk about any issues they may have. By creating an open and inviting work environment, you can encourage your employees to embrace the diversity remote working brings.

2.2. Interruptions at Home

One of the biggest problems remote workers have is prioritizing their work while at home. It's so easy to get distracted, especially when you work in your living environment. There are many reasons why someone might find it difficult to concentrate at home, and while some are in your control, this isn't always the case. 

Young children can be the most significant source of distraction, and some employees think working from home is an excellent idea because it saves money on childcare. A home working space should always be treated the same as an office, and it's crucial you convey this to your team. Would someone bring their kids to work? No. Set clear guidelines and establish professional boundaries with your team.

In some cases, it's impossible to get your workforce to understand that having the TV on and using their mobile phones isn't the right way to work from home. Unfortunately, there will always be some employees that lack motivation, but by analyzing their productivity, you can evaluate whether they deserve to be part of your team.

2.3. Retention and Efficiency Issues

Remote working is particularly popular among Millennials, and the digital nomad lifestyle offers many benefits for people that want a different type of lifestyle. But how does this affect management teams? Well, for a start, some people take a very laid back attitude to their remote work and often think that they can put in less effort. Of course, this isn't the same attitude everyone takes, but it's something you should be wary of. 

Set clear goals from the outset and layout your expectations when you're onboarding new team members. It's also useful to understand how to manage your asynchronous communication and support your team so they can learn how best to operate under your preferred ways of working. 

It’s important to remember that your employees need to feel valued and respected. Statistics show that six in ten employees feel that workplace surveillance decreases their trust in their boss. By setting out clear expectations from the beginning, you can work with your team to build a strong work culture. 

Project management tools such as Asana and Basecamp can help you monitor how efficient your employees are and highlight any team members with productivity issues.

2.4. Conflict Management

We all have preferred ways of working, and our cultural background can have a direct impact on how we communicate with others. While some people are naturally more laid back, others take a direct approach. The brusqueness  can take other team members by surprise. 

A good example of this is two remote employees working on a project together. One likes to receive regular updates, and the other prefers to get on with their tasks and provide a weekly report. This could likely cause issues between both team members, and management needs to address conflicts remotely. 

Conflict is one of the pitfalls of remote working, and statistics from the CBI show that workplace conflicts cost UK businesses around £33 billion per year. The good news is conflicts are manageable by letting your team know that they can approach you with their problems. By encouraging open communication, your team members will feel more comfortable talking about their issues and make more effort to understand each other's differences.

2.5. Lack of Clarity About Company Culture

A company's culture is central to its identity, and how a business operates defines whether the employees will fit into how you like to do things. Your culture doesn't just refer to how you work, but also how you expect your employees to act and feel like your team members. 

Some businesses prefer to create a relaxed, fun, and open culture. They use channels such as Slack and encourage their team to share news about their personal lives. Others might prefer a more formal collaborative approach. When you manage a remote team, it isn't easy to convey the culture you wish to create with your employees. 

Always be open with your team and discuss your expectations with them from the offset. According to Positive Psychology, 75% of people leave their job because they're unhappy at work, which affects companies' retention rates. By telling people how you like to operate and discussing your culture, you can avoid losing team members and find people that will embrace your unique ways of working and communicating.

2.6. Can Working From Home Be Effective?

As you can see, there are many pitfalls of remote working, but by applying some effective strategies, it's possible to create a strong remote workforce. The key things to remember are: 

  • Set out your expectations from the very start.
  • Make sure you implement the right communication channels. 
  • Create the facility for automating busywork 
  • Ensure your team feels supported. 

Remote working can be rewarding for both team members and management. It saves money on office expenses, allows you to source the most effective talent and build a diverse workforce. With so many people adapting to remote working, it's time to embrace the new office. 

3. FAQs

3.1. Why working from home is not for everyone?

Working from home is not for everyone for several reasons like - collaboration challenges, risk of productivity, burnout challenges etc.

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