The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionized the business industry. Many companies had to shift to working remotely which caused a big change in our routine. Once an opportunity for only some employees, today remote or hybrid work is the new normal.
And it’s here to stay. According to Vox, by 2025, about 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least five days a month.
This is not surprising taking into account all the advantages that it offers with the most important one being flexibility. But as in all cases, there are many downsides and challenges both for employees and employers to overcome as well. Leaders should be aware of those challenges and think strategically to not let remote work affect the business success or employee happiness.
How The Challenges of Remote Working Impact Business
The concept of remote work itself has changed too. While most employees enjoy its perks, more and more challenges emerge that can have a negative impact on this or that area of business. Technical problems, distractions, time management, unstructured routine, communication or isolation; these are just some of the things that may reduce productivity.
Now let’s dive into some interesting numbers that demonstrate very well what consequences these challenges can have. According to Gallup:
All these are key points for employee engagement and affect performance/retention. And in the case of employees who prefer working in person, we can see more serious numbers: 17% lower productivity and 24% higher turnover. To not get lost in statistics let’s pass to the highlighted challenges and know what areas should be improved or taken care of to fully enjoy the benefits of remote work.
Creating Strong Relationships and Bonds
Working remotely makes it very difficult to create and maintain strong relationships and bonds among team members; the communication is often restricted to work-related Slack messages or virtual meetings. No water cooler conversations or coffee breaks.
While in an office environment employees build a sense of emotional connection with their peers. It’s about warm and friendly conversations, jokes and team-building activities that bring people together, instil team spirit and make them feel part of the culture.
Remote managers should be aware of the importance of a connected culture, encourage communication and invest in deepening relationships. Strong bonds and meaningful connections are important for the overall well-being and productivity of employees. It motivates them, develops a sense of trust and helps them to collaborate even better.
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Maintaining Company Culture
An organization’s culture is the most valuable thing for the company that is put at risk while working remotely. Because of lack of interaction and communication, employees usually develop a sense of loneliness and isolation. They complete tasks without being motivated to do their best, and become detached from the team and the company values over time.
When employees don’t know where their company is heading, what it stands for and are not aligned with the vision, it becomes less possible to succeed. According to Gallup data, remote workers are 7 percentage less likely to see their connection to the mission of their company.
The company culture is what drives the organization, it defines “why they exist” and shapes the overall employee experience. So, it’s vital to make sure team members are aligned, stay closer to the culture, and feel a sense of belonging.
Making Employees Feel Recognized and Seen
Visibility is among the most common problems that remote teams are facing. Employees feel unseen and unheard like their hard work and efforts are not visible and valued. But, being a remote team or not, workplace visibility is crucial. It is when employees get proper credit, are recognized and appreciated for their achievements and know that their contributions matter.
Remote team members who do not feel recognized and seen become less innovative, collaborative and motivated, and start treating their work as responsibility over time. What’s more important, they become less productive and tend to quit.
So, to have an engaged and happy remote workforce create a culture where everybody gets meaningful and real-time recognitions no matter the distance.
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Ensuring Effective Onboarding
Structured onboarding is crucial for employees’ future journey. One of the main reasons why new hires leave within their first three months is because of a non-effective onboarding process. Now with remote work being around this process has become even more complicated.
New hires try to find their ways to get integrated into the company culture and become part of the team. Understanding the workplace values and building social connections is harder from behind the screen.
They didn’t have the opportunity to spend time in the office with their peers and have those warm moments which develop a sense of belonging. This resulted in 34% less peer recognition than their counterparts from the previous year. So, thinking of effective onboarding strategies is important to create aligned teams that are committed to success.
Why have I left burnout to the end? Most of the CEOs of remote teams mention it as the main reason for employees to quit. Let’s see why.
Many think of burnout as only feeling tired at work. But it’s more than that. It’s a physical and mental reaction to constant stress and can lead to depression or anxiety. It happens even more often to remote workers as nearly all the above-mentioned challenges combined may lead to burnout.
The most common reason is not being able to unplug after work. Employees may find themselves working late in the evening instead of relaxing or going out. Why leave that one email for tomorrow? So, overwork, lack of socialization, workplace inspiration and support leave employees feeling drained and not appreciated without the energy to be productive or even care about the work.
Remote work has changed the workplace dynamics, and of course, such a big change would have both its benefits and downsides. But by simply changing or optimizing some processes remote leaders can surely overcome these challenges and fully enjoy the flexibility of remote work.
The right tools and strategies will help to create an engaged workforce and strong organizational culture. With motivated, committed and happy employees, everything is possible no matter the location.