Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the surge in remote working, plenty of opinions have emerged on how it impacts productivity and asking if we should all rush back to the office at the first opportunity.

Within these opinions have been various rationales on the difficulties working from home presents, including lack of communication, a drop in productivity and conflict within teams.

Not forgetting the argument for or against managers tracking employees performance, either by installing tracking software to company devices or asking for an hour by hour run down of tasks completed. The latter certainly isn’t something we encourage or use at simplycommunicate.

However, it is important that workplace tech channels and platforms are properly invested in and employees are educated on the purpose of each and how they should work together. This process comes under the ‘governance’ umbrella and is a key consideration for leaders.

So, the question is: if you’re a happy team (like us!) without any of these major problems, what are the everyday challenges that arise whilst working remotely?

We’ve put together 5 challenges we think are the most relatable:

1. Zoom fatigue

Regardless of which video conferencing software you use, most people are familiar with the phrase ‘Zoom fatigue.’ Zoom (or Teams) is great, making it possible for employees to collaborate, share ideas and build relationships whilst working from home. However, being on back-to-back calls all day amounts to a lot of screen time.

The solution: Give your team the freedom and autonomy to say when they’re feeling exhausted. Sometimes, we just need time alone to regroup, reflect and reset our agenda before joining another call.

2. Scheduling conflicts

The wonders of technology have allowed us to co-ordinate our diaries, but sometimes everyone is so busy that it’s impossible to find a time that suits everyone. With various calendar clients offering the ability to see others’ diaries, it’s usually the case that a window of time can be found, even if it’s not as soon as everyone would like.

The solution: Open up conversations on timings, making sure you’re aware of each individual’s needs. For example, if a member of your team works flexi-hours to allow for home-schooling, you know that they won’t be available in the early morning, which means meetings can be scheduled for the afternoon instead.

3. Technical issues (you’re on mute)

We’ve all been there. We can’t expect everyone to be a pro with technology and sometimes it just doesn’t go right. Aside from the classic ‘you’re on mute!’, there are plenty of other technical issues that we’ve all battled with. Dodgy Wi-Fi connections, forgetting to plug in your charger and sudden software updates to name a few. These factors are out of our control for the most part, but taking extra time to set up your device will help.

The solution: A note for managers to make sure the needs of your teams are well catered for. Some employees may be left behind as they don’t have decent access to broadband. Work with the reward team to see if there may be an option to support team members with internet packages.

4. Inadequate breaks

This is an important consideration for successful homeworking. Being chained to your desk is not conducive to productivity, nor is it any good for your mental health. Getting away from your desk is necessary for wellbeing and helps you to produce better work. Blocking out an hour for lunch should be standard — not eaten at your desk! — as well as regular trips to make a cup of tea or get some fresh air.

The solution: Check in with your team to make sure they’re taking care of themselves and offer extra support if they seem overwhelmed. If possible, allocate ‘meeting free’ days every now and then, where everyone can focus on their work or take an extended break.

5. Distractions

Anything from the doorbell ringing, pets (or children) nagging for food/attention or housemates/family members knocking on the door asking unnecessary questions. Finding a space that is just yours, ideally where you can close the door, will help with focus and avoid one of those live-TV-interview-style embarrassments.

The solution: Don’t draw too much attention to any distractions that may pop up during video calls. They’re sure to happen, but easy to deal with by muting yourself or leaving the call for a few minutes.

If you recognise the challenges we’ve mentioned and would like to read more, you can find out about 5 tools for managing remote teams. Or why not download our free ebook exploring changing working practices.

THE AUTHOR

simplycommunicate

Connecting passionate people with transformative technology for better business results.

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