How to Deal With 10 Potential Issues to Remote Work Arrangements
The pandemic has undoubtedly revolutionized the future of the workplace. Hybrid work models are fast becoming the norm in the new world of work. And while many organizations are figuring out how to navigate these unprecedented changes, one thing is clear: workers desire the flexibility that remote work offers.
According to FlexJobs' annual survey in 2021, about 97% of workers want some form of remote work. Meanwhile, 39% of those surveyed preferred a hybrid working environment, and 58% wanted to be full-time remote employees post-pandemic.
Another recent research said that about 66% of U.S. employees work remotely, at least part-time, and an estimated 36.2 million American employees are expected to work remotely by 2025.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Remote Work
Has the flexible setup changed the world of work for the better? The question of whether remote working is a burden or a curse has been a topic of intense debate among many organizations. And there are many arguments made on both sides.
When it comes to productivity, for example, studies have shown that many employees are more productive in remote settings. This answer may be because they don’t have to waste time commuting to the office. As such, employees have more flexibility in their schedules.
On the flip side, some experts maintain that a return to the traditional office setup will lead to higher quality work and a faster pace of output. Virtual working environments won’t come close to the level of collaboration when working face-to-face.
In general, remote working gives organizations and employees the benefits of considerable savings in time and money, access to a broader pool of talent, and a boost in recruitment and retention.
However, people must not neglect the downsides. Many studies warn that as the boundaries between professional and personal lives blur in the work-from-home arrangement, the mental health crisis in the workforce worsens. Employees suffer from fatigue, stress, and burnout because of working longer hours while at home.
Problems Faced by the Remote Workforce
Do the advantages outweigh the drawbacks? For many leaders, the focus should not be on whether remote working is a bane or a boon. It’s about effectively managing their remote teams and rising to the distinct challenges of this modern setup.
So how do organizations keep it together when their employees are everywhere? It starts with having a great deal of understanding. Here are some of the most common issues remote working teams face and ways to overcome them.
Absenteeism and Productivity
Absenteeism is among the most immediate challenges in the work-from-home era. In the context of the remote work setup, being absent means simply not working. But while the reasons for being absent—illnesses and injuries, family emergencies, and personal issues—remain the same, the circumstances in a virtual working environment have drastically changed.
More often than not, it’s too easy to get distracted when one is working remotely. It’s hard for employees to set boundaries between working and non-working hours when there are just too many things demanding their attention. Distractions can range from preparing meals and shopping for groceries to caring for children and loved ones.
If the dynamics become too difficult to manage, it can result in poor employee performance and low morale among colleagues.
What organizations can do
Setting clear remote work expectations and policies is the first major step toward combatting absenteeism in this setup. Leaders must communicate what they expect from remote employees regarding output and performance. In line with this, they must lay out the rules regarding absences and leaves. They may also motivate employees by giving perks and bonuses for high attendance.
Ineffective Teamwork, Communication, and Collaboration
The lack of face-to-face interactions makes fostering collaborative and innovative working environments difficult. There is simply no substitute for the human element and in-person team-building sessions. Employees want the energy and enthusiasm that comes from working together and discussing great ideas.
Getting people on the same page and working in groups becomes challenging when everyone works at home. Plus, employees value that sense of belongingness. They want to feel that they’re part of the big picture and recognize their impact as part of a team.
What organizations can do
Leverage digital collaboration tools and platforms to boost employee engagement. Ensure that virtual collaboration activities go beyond online games and parties. You must be proactive in building an organizational culture focused on clear and regular online communication. In other words, leaders and employees must work together to establish communication norms and online connectivity strategies.