How to Overcome Challenges for Remote Workers. In 2021, the shift toward remote work accelerated, and in 2022, more organizations will use it.
In fact, 74% of employers said they would allow more remote work arrangements after COVID. How to Overcome Challenges for Remote Workers.
Even though there are benefits to working remotely, managers need to learn how to anticipate and deal with problems that often come up. How to Overcome Challenges for Remote Workers.
How do you control someone you’ve never met?
How can you appoint a new worker if you have never met them in person?
How do you know if your team is burning out or actually engaged?
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These are just a few of the difficulties you’ll face in your role as a remote manager. In addition, you’ll need to learn how to modify your management style to work best in this new virtual setting. We list the top problems that come up when you work from home and how to fix them.
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1. Work from home
Finding the correct candidates for the position is one of the most frequent difficulties you’ll experience as a remote manager. You are not constrained to recruiting employees from a certain city. Instead, if your business is spread out across the country or the world, you’ll have access to a larger pool of talent.
So, how do you select the best candidate for your team?
Without ever meeting them in person, how do you find the perfect candidates? Here are some pointers:
- Use carefully made questionnaires and tools for keeping track of applications to weed out people who aren’t qualified and find talent pools with higher skill levels.
- Request an introduction video from candidates. As they introduce themselves to your hiring team in a brief video, ask prospects a few questions. You’ll get to know them better and be able to tell who is genuinely willing to put forth the effort necessary for the position.
- Conduct interviews online. Set up video interviews with candidates online using Zoom, or other video interviewing software. Inquiring about each candidate’s experience working remotely is helpful. They will be aware of the expectations from the start.
After you’ve hired your new employee, you can begin the remote onboarding process.
2. Adding new team members without ever meeting them in person
Your hiring efforts could succeed or fail based on how well you handle remote onboarding. New team members feel informed about what to anticipate and what is expected of them with the proper approach.
They’ll get invested and driven right away because they’ll feel welcomed and like they’re a member of the team.
On the other hand, a bad onboarding process might leave new workers feeling excluded and segregated. They’ll start to drift away and hunt for opportunities elsewhere if this continues for a while.
In order to make the onboarding process memorable:
- Bring on board fresh hires as soon as possible. To talk to new team members, tell your current staff to use Slack, email, or a video call to introduce themselves.
- Set the guidelines upfront. So that there are no ambiguities or misunderstandings later, make sure your new hires are aware of the daily, weekly, and project-specific expectations.
- Be in touch early and often. It’s preferable to communicate excessively in the beginning than to leave your new workers feeling isolated. Continually use the same communication channel that your team uses. For instance, if Slack usage is expected of everyone, encourage conversation here.
- Mention the corporate culture and how your staff lives up to those principles. This gives new hires a clearer idea of the company’s values, how they’ll fit in, and what you’re collectively trying to accomplish as a team.
These actions enable remote workers to understand their role in “the wider picture” right away. With this attitude, you can build and keep a team that is motivated and interested.
3. Promoting a culture of appreciation
In order to improve relationships inside the organization and maintain team engagement, recognition is a wonderful strategy. Every good leader makes it a priority to create a culture of recognition on their team and to get people from all over to give praise.
Although it seems straightforward, this is frequently not done, which is a grave error. The distinction between having engaged workers and those who are merely taking a paycheck can be made by recognition.
Focus on creating a culture of praise at all levels, such as:
- Manager to employee
- Employee to manager
- C-level worker
- A worker to a C-level executive
Don’t only emphasize the major triumphs here; the little wins are just as significant. If you achieve enough minor successes. You’ll develop the positive momentum needed to easily accomplish those major goals. But if you don’t praise or thank your team members, they will lose motivation and perspective quickly. This will make it much harder to reach your goals.
Achieving a balance between complimenting a team member privately and publicly, depending on the milestone attained and the team member, is important. You can do this in private messages, during one-on-one conversations, or by mailing them a note that is written by hand.
4. Increasing trust within your team
Trusting team members to do their work is one of the biggest challenges remote supervisors face. If you don’t see them every day, you could question if they’re actually working on their to-do list or just scrolling around social media. This worry might make you want to keep an eye on your team from afar, which would show your team that you don’t trust them.
Building trust with your employees is essential for both of your sanities. Here are a few strategies for doing that:
Be open and honest about your company and the reasons for your preferred methods of operation. As a result, employees will feel less like subordinates and more like collaborators in achieving common objectives as a result. If the goals are clear, your team will gain trust as they finish tasks and meet expectations.
Make sure your staff has clear processes and standard operating procedures (SOPs) so they can communicate what they’re working on without you having to check in on them all the time.
These suggestions all depend on your ability to communicate, so that’s another thing you should work on.
5. Clear communication
Any firm needs communication, but remote managers who can’t meet their team members in person need it even more.
On the one hand, excessive communication might make your staff members feel micromanaged and perpetually distracted. However, not communicating enough can lead to feelings of isolation and the possibility that something will get missed.
It is crucial to achieve the ideal balance between the two.
Having regularly scheduled check-ins and using project management tools or other software for remote work are excellent first steps to take in this situation. However, you should also encourage excellent communication skills. For that:
- Be specific at all times. When communicating via email or messenger. By doing this, you can minimize misunderstandings and improve the clarity of your tone.
- Use asynchronous communication to provide your employee with all pertinent information in a single snippet that they can review whenever it is convenient for them.
- Encourage inquiry. Employees will feel more at ease asking for clarification or additional instructions when you set up a two-way communication system. By changing your Slack status to show when you are available or not, people on your team who are far away will know when it is best to contact you.
- Use active listening techniques. Everyone can contribute ideas and ask questions by using a collaborative agenda for the meeting. This will enable you to hear problems before they become glitches and address them. In a similar way, being able to talk to your remote staff well will help you care about them.
6. Showing your team more empathy
Don’t criticize someone for a delay or error if you see a project is going behind time or activities aren’t being completed as you anticipated. Instead, solicit candid comments to identify the true cause of the problem. Holding weekly one-on-one sessions with each team member will help you achieve this.
You may put yourself in your employee’s shoes and comprehend what they’re going through, how they’re feeling, and any other concerns you may not have been aware of by encouraging a culture of feedback and engaging in vulnerable leadership. After that, you can talk about what needs to be modified or improved. You’ll also learn compassion and trust, which will help you face the next challenge:
7. Absence of emotional assistance
Even if you and your team may be separated by distance or even time zones, empathy enables you to address their emotional needs. You may improve your connection with your remote workforce in two simple ways:
- Promote a culture of listening and talking. Employees are encouraged to voice their opinions and issues in this environment without concern for negative consequences. When employees feel like they can be heard, they are more likely to tell you about problems and ask for help when they need it.
- Encourage and praise your colleagues to work harder. Adopting the motto “nurture, praise, repeat” might assist make sure that your staff is encouraged to go above and beyond, which is the next challenge.
8. Insufficient motivation
Your staff may lose the will to put out their best effort if they are always working independently without acknowledgment or feedback. We advise adopting clear agreements that specify who is responsible for what and by when. This not only clears up any confusion but also motivates staff members to take ownership of the projects they’re working on.
Because most people have a natural inclination to not want to let their team down, having this level of control keeps people motivated. A further powerful motivation is praising success.
9. Monitoring the output of the team
Monitoring the development of your team doesn’t require you to micromanage. You’ll have a higher chance of maintaining high productivity and completing tasks on schedule if you set clear expectations, monitor projects, and routinely reassess goals. It also helps to have the correct productivity app stack!
Use these advantages to achieve that:
- Tools for project management that enable everyone to view the tasks at hand and the progress being made in real-time
- There are daily virtual scrums that give enough information to know what’s going on without having to watch someone’s back.
- Recurrent team meetings to discuss problems or disputes with the timetable. These can occur every day, every week, every two months, or whenever you see fit. To accurately assess production within a certain timeframe, just make sure they are scheduled at the same time.
- Meetings are held only once, such as project kickoffs and mid-project check-ins. These should make it easier for you to keep track of important deadlines and identify problems before they have a chance to derail the entire project.
Speaking of meetings, if you’re not careful, virtual hangouts may be just as time-consuming and distracting as in-person meetings.
10. Ineffective online meetings
After a video conference, there’s nothing worse than realizing, “That should have been an email.” So, it’s better to learn how to run an effective meeting than to waste your time and the time of your team.
An agenda for meetings should be developed first. Everyone should be aware of what to expect beforehand so they can make plans.
This kind of collaborative agenda makes sure the conference has a clear focus and enables others to provide well-considered answers. Your team will come together as a result of regular meetings, and you may address issues before they grow into greater ones by encouraging input.
Additional advice for conducting successful virtual meetings includes:
- Discussing the results, future actions, or deliverables necessary for success. rather than just focusing on a problem, work out the specifics of how to solve it.
- Find out how you can help by asking.
- Check to see if there are any hurdles or blocks in the path.
- Make use of nonparallel communication as well. When to communicate through async techniques and when to meet in person.
To better understand what’s happening, whether there are any issues to solve, and what you can do to offer support without micromanaging, arrange both team meetings and one-on-one sessions on a frequent basis.
11. A work-life balance that is unbalanced
When it comes to keeping a good work-life balance, remote work can be challenging. After all, since everyone is remote, it’s impossible to tell who is staying up late and who is departing early.
The truth is that even though they are already at home, some people still struggle to switch out of “work mode” and relax. Unfortunately, this may cause your staff or even you to burn out.
In order to avoid appearing lax, some employees feel pressured to reply to every communication within seconds, even while they are not on the clock. Setting up asynchronous communication shows employees that they don’t need to do this, as was already said.
To help your staff achieve a better work-life balance:
- Schedule rest periods. Encourage staff members to leave their desks during lunch or to take a 30-minute break in the afternoon for a quick stroll or stretch. Leave time at the beginning of your meetings for small talk on topics that aren’t work-related, including what everyone is binge-watching on Netflix or doing this weekend.
- Inform workers to leave the office at a decent time so they have time to engage in their favorite hobbies. When an employee is at home alone, it is far too simple for them to continue working rather than taking the time to relax with hobbies, social activities, etc.
- What you preach, practice. Telling employees to take breaks is one thing; demonstrating to them that taking breaks is not only acceptable but encouraged is quite another.
- Encourage your team to create separate living and working spaces. Encourage employees to solely work in the designated room if they have the choice of having one as their workstation. On the other hand, make sure that work doesn’t leave that room either. This will provide more separation between work-related tasks and other pursuits.
- Encourage your staff to engage in worthwhile activities away from the office. Your staff must believe they are developing not only as employees but also as people for work-life balance to take place.
By using these suggestions, you may encourage a healthier work-life balance for yourself and your team.
12. Burning out
The first people to develop burnout on remote teams are typically the ones who find it difficult to say “no.” These high-performers often give 110% seven days a week, which can’t last and makes them more likely to overwork.
When it reaches that point, you won’t be able to physically see it, therefore you’ll need to watch out for certain indications of staff burnout, such as:
- I have a negative attitude toward my job.
- Disengagement from the team and projects
- reduced effectiveness
Now, employ these precautions to avoid burnout before any of those warning signs manifest:
- Make it obvious that taking on too much work is not encouraged.
- Encourage staff to limit their weekly hours to 50 or less (and to not make 50 hours the norm).
- Make flexible work schedules to account for the need for breaks and other things that might come up in your personal life.
- Talk frequently with your staff to make sure they aren’t overloading themselves with work.
Remote managers must pay close attention to their team’s workflow to avoid piling on duties and establishing unrealistic deadlines. You might have extra time for employee development if you do this.
13. Employees feel their careers and personal growth are stagnating
It’s far too easy for remote workers to become mired in the daily grind and lose sight of their professional objectives. Even though it’s not what you want as a manager, if your team only focuses on getting their weekly tasks done, they might not feel like they’re getting better at their jobs or improving their skills.
To counter this, arrange one-on-one meetings to discuss professional and personal development; avoid discussing particular projects. In fact, a 2019 poll of more than 200 managers revealed that 75% of managers often discussed growth with their direct reports.
If you’re unsure about what to talk about during these meetings, consider asking some of the growth-oriented questions below and see where they take you:
- What divisions of business are you interested in learning more about?
- Which competencies would you like to acquire right away?
- Do you think you’ve gotten enough feedback on your work? Where would you like further input if not here?
- What professional objectives do you hope to achieve in the upcoming six to twelve months, and why?
- Which employee would you like to observe and learn from? What do you hope to discover?
- Which one of your skills would you like to hone between this meeting and the next?
- How can I help you more effectively?
- How would you prefer to allocate your annual budget for education?
- What area would you like to concentrate on more in the upcoming quarter?
- What is something you really wanted to do during the previous quarter but were unable to do?
- In a year, where do you see yourself fitting into the team?
- What meetings, events, or conferences are taking place in your area that you’d want to attend?
- What resources can the business or I offer to assist you in progressing in your position?
Make sure to pay attention and take notes so you’ll be able to support your team members exactly as needed. To encourage the professional and personal development of your team members as well as yourself, go back to the last meeting and keep doing so frequently.
14. Inadequate team building
How do you create a team-building environment if you don’t get to see or speak to your team at work every day? You could plan retreats for everyone to get together once a quarter or once a year, but that doesn’t happen very often, and it’s hard to do so now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creating a collaborative environment where staff members feel comfortable expressing their opinions will, as we previously mentioned, foster a sense of community and make people feel like they belong.
Along with these routine team-building activities, you’ll encourage the ideal virtual workplace:
- Create a Slack channel for a “water cooler.” Employees are free to discuss topics other than work in this space, such as movies, novels, hilarious memes, etc., without interfering with your job channels. You can also create other channels for topics such as families, pets, remote tips, and so on to encourage more conversations.
- Consider having a weekly virtual lunch. With this special feature, everyone has the opportunity to join a video call while taking a break to eat and converse with one another, exactly like you would in an office setting.
- Celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and more by hosting virtual office gatherings. These give your staff an additional opportunity to interact, even remotely. Send a care box with refreshments or party hats and an invitation to the meeting at a certain time to each member of your team to go above and beyond. They’ll experience gratitude and a sense of in-person celebration.
By using these suggestions, you can create a strong, dependable team that is content to work together and experiences less turnover.
Running a team is difficult enough. In a time when more and more businesses are going virtual, managing a team that works from far away makes things even harder.
The good news is that you can get over each of these obstacles, and doing so will make your team and company an unstoppable force. The advice in this manual will help you increase output, staff morale, efficiency, professional development, and many other things. You only shine if your team shines.