The 8 Most Common Remote Working Challenges with Solutions

Many changes and trends are coming right now with the work culture. The onset of the Coronavirus has changed work patterns and flexibility forever. Large portions of the global workforce face various work-life balance and office routine options.

As the world moves towards a different way of working, both advantages and disadvantages are at play. Common issues and concerns continue to dominate surveys and discussions between organisations and firms.

The Challenges of Working Remotely

The Coronavirus has changed the way people work indefinitely. While the idea of working from home isn’t new, the onset of endless isolation, public health crisis, job loss and new work opportunities are still tailored around remote working.

The increase in the percentage and types of workers who perform remote jobs is significant. The world can’t deny that remote work will slowly become more regular. According to Sava’s report,

“About 15 to 16 percent stated their companies’ workforce worked remotely prior to the pandemic, and as of late 2020, 34 percent of respondents expected the workforce to be working remotely permanently.”

The slow permanent integration of remote workers into workforce profiles is becoming more apparent. Considering the current onset of working from home, people should weigh out the pros and cons of the setup. Individual team members will experience different problems. All types of work have challenges, and it’s best to find the one that gives your lifestyle the most benefit.

Common Challenges for Remote Teams

Over one-thirdof the survey respondents note that there are no issues when one works remotely. However, remote work culture is a work-in-progress. This can present common remote work challenges of its own.

Remote team members won’t always understand things eye to eye, and unpredictable things can happen. Perhaps the biggest challenge that can personally occur to a person is the inability to defuse work from personal space. The cohesion of work and home becomes a double-edged sword to most, affecting overall health and work performance.

1. Project Management

Project management is one of the biggest problems with remote team members. Many projects often involve team members working across functions and project goals. The project manager’s job becomes more noticeable and crucial in keeping teams together towards the project completion.

Here are some of the biggest challenges and management problems concerning team works for remote jobs:

  • Differences between any time zone
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Availability of reliable collaboration tools
  • Productivity challenges when members work remotely
  • Monitoring work across different workers from different time zones

How to manage a project as a remote working team?

Collaboration and tools are keys to keeping a cohesive team for large, complex projects. Projects stay the same in terms of nature, whether it’s in the office or remote work. All project managers are responsible for ensuring that all members meet individual goals and tasks. Pushing to complete tasks for deadlines has become the norm.

According to a report by consultancy firm, Wellingtone, only 1 in 4 organisations utilise ant kind of PM software. With no way to collaborate properly, missed project deadlines are more common in any organisation.

For large organisations with multiple projects spread across the business, investing in software is best to enjoy the benefits and perform the remote function for projects. Here are some of the tools that businesses can use to track progress:

  • Asana

BEST FOR: handling personal task management between team members, and the platform offers an extensive collaboration space filled with other existing apps

  • Jira Software

BEST FOR: implementing agile methodologies, and the platform presents collaboration space as scrum and kanban boards, with the additional crucial function as a reliable time tracking software for any project

  • Oracle

BEST FOR: performing management platform for real-time data availability, to ensure that teams have efficient real-time access to databases and to avoid collaboration delays

  • Slack

BEST FOR: acting as a tool for an organisation-wide channel for information dissemination, ensuring that any team with communication issues get onboarded to respective channels for respective projects they are part of

  • Proofhub

BEST FOR: planning projects, coupled with functions for notification of specific individual team members, presentation of project progress through Gantt charts and a separate hub for a team communications channel

There are various tools that not only provide help in managing projects but also automate tasks. There are other software that also monitors and records screen time to ensure that everybody is doing something throughout work blocks.

Many managers may have to deal with tiny tasks spanning several individuals for specific projects. Having the right tools keeps people on top of the project, ensuring that even the most minor details in any project phase are correctly addressed.

Working at home requires extra push and attention to detail that can otherwise be handled face to face in the same office, assuring that everybody is on the same page.

2. Building and Maintaining Team Spirit

With remote work, one of the downsides of the normal routine involves inorganic human interaction between people working together. While it may not be the case for a large portion of remote employees that prefer literally working alone, other people tend to enjoy company culture and the value of team morale.

New team members may feel loneliness and difficulty transitioning compared to the more stereotypical expectation at work. Remote teams often lack that presence of support and normalcy when working alone.

People who thrive as remote workers are usually already at the heights in the comfort of being alone. While it works for some people, it can’t apply to all demographics of the workforce.

How do you improve team spirit?

The challenge now lies in improving and calling for higher emotional support. Workers aren’t only productivity machines expected to churn out output all the time. Thriving organisations often take into the most significant consideration the people that work for them. Regular catch-ups and genuine emotional support can help uplift team members.

Simple words of affirmation, recognition of a job well done, and timely breakout gimmicks can help people handle work for a while. Some of the keys to improving team disposition are:

  • Investing in accessible and comprehensive Employee Assistance Programs, i.e., including mental health packages, consultation options for challenges
  • Imposing rights to turn mobile devices off after office hours at work
  • Recognising and awarding of work performance for exemplary remote job
  • Scheduling quick catch-ups during the same work hours like you’re in the same time zone
  • Sending direct messages when necessary and team messages to uplift and inform the entire team

3. Effective Communication

All people are different and thus have different communication styles. As such, what works for you as a project manager or employee may only be effective to you. Respective co-workers will have different ways of understanding and communicating effectively.

On the other hand, sometimes, teams communicate too much, losing the essence of which tasks are urgent. While marking the minutes of the meeting and sending them to channels can help summarise the discussion, members won’t truly know which things are crucial without knowing in the same place. Effective communication becomes a hurdle to project completion when people have different understandings of the same subject.

How to have effective communication as a remote worker

The solution to communication hurdles still falls on the investment of reliable communication software. In comparison, not all software and tools have communication channels and may sometimes have a different product for the function.

One of the best organisation communication channel software globally is Slack. There are other alternatives such as Microsoft Teams, Google Chat and Flock.

One other benefit of communication tools is the removal of language barriers in real-time communication. Remote workers often have subtle cultural differences leading to various levels of communication and understanding. Managers should be able to relay project goals and work effectively through a common channel to probe for further understanding and questions. During conference calls, urge team members to speak up and ask for clarifications.

Common Challenges for Individual Remote Workers

Challenges for remote teams are mostly mitigated with the presence of software and project management tools. The issues during individual work, far apart, are much more nuanced for large organisations.

Among the top issues plaguing individual remote workers, the most common problem often is balancing home and work at home. Remember that around 25% of people working from home have difficulty unplugging from work because of the distinctions between workspace and home space (Sava, 2022). Some people may tend to let time pass and continue working despite passing working hours.

4. Unplugging after working hours

All types of work have different demands and nature. Some projects also have higher demands than others. Organisations may end up requesting higher flexibility with different work demands. For people handling clients in their position, the client’s demands may fall out of the official work schedule.

Working in different time zones also impacts the person’s supposed availability and the opportunity to log off work. The disconnect between work and personal becomes drastic, causing other remote work challenges.

How to switch off after work?

There are simple measures in place to switch off after work. These measures are more affordable and accessible than organisations investing in tools and software. If you’re a remote worker looking to put a distinction between home life and work, you can do the following:

  • Turning off notifications and setting different alert modes on the phone, e.g., for iPhone users, there are Focus modes to alter the notification types of the phone apps
  • Setting alarms for breaks and time off
  • Changing the status of work communication apps to offline after work hours
  • Creating an auto-response email when you are not at work, i.e., when you are on vacation leave or special leave
  • Turning off all work devices to limit the temptation of doing checkups and work after official work hours

5. Maximising Productivity

The issue of the conflation of personal life and working space is a natural phenomenon with remote workers on the job. The tendency is that dedicated office spaces distinguish a lot of expectations and atmosphere. Any team member who constantly works remotely may combine an official place for rest and function into one space.

Most organisations invest in large productivity systems like applications, programs and software. It’s one of the surest ways that workers can access work matters and utilise the resources to finish work tasks. It’s the reason why productivity apps are increasing in demand annually.

Right now, the most popular productivity tools come from Microsoft Office 365, controlling almost half the market share of all the productivity apps globally.

What are the most practical ways to be productive?

Like unplugging from work, there are also practical ways to increase productivity. Here are some things you can do, whether you are a project manager or a worker in a remote position:

  • Avoiding tendencies to multitask

Specific tasks require bulk loads of time and concentration towards progress and completion. Some examples are coding software, writing articles, editing videos, etc. Ensure that there are no other pending tasks when you are performing large tasks that you can’t split into smaller progressive volumes.

  • Performing the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique focuses on time management rather than bulk task management. This works best if your work style involves counting hours instead of output. Set the alarm for regular small interval breaks. The small breaks can serve as an incentive to keep working until the alarm starts stroking.

  • Removing work distractions

If you have enough budget, build a dedicated office at home and keep all the work things inside. There are specific room layouts and designs that are purposely fit for being more productive. Avoid non-work-related things inside your dedicated workspace to focus more on work. The presence of official things for work can help emphasise the need to do work on time.

6. Overcoming Distractions

Distractions are real concerns for all remote workers. Since there may be present family members during work, or there are no ways to create physical boundaries at home, anything conflates into one big picture.

Distractions can occur with the presence of pets and dependents as well. Meetings can go over the intended time due to distractions or unfocused work talk, leading to more extended hours.

The average time for humans to stay in focus is only around 5-20 minutes (Bradbury, 2016). Any longer time range can lead to more probability of succumbing to work distractions. Preventive measures can help lessen the distractions and maximise the work time dedicated to work only.

How to overcome distractions?

Times are tough, and focused work calls all the time. Nobody can afford to be distracted often. Here are some ways to avoid distractions when working.

  • Installing applications that can help ignore distractions

There are now tons of applications and software to help minimise distractions. Visit the store platform on your smartphone and look for an app that suits your needs. Many apps offer this function for free so that people don’t need to spend while staying in focus.

  • Creating set playlists for work only to divert attention

Music always helps offset and divert attention. Choose a music genre that works well with your work rhythm. Various researchers conduct studies on music, focus and sleep before, and classical music is one of the best ways to set direction before work. Create interval playlists of classical music from composers like Bach, Beethoven and Liszt to help you concentrate and keep listening to the sounds on your earphones or speakers.

  • Going out from time to time to change work scenery

Work distractions can happen because of the work environment you’re in. If you have the extra budget, try working in conducive coffee shops and co-working spaces. Some spaces are purposely built to minimise distractions. Often, these spaces are very minimalist in design, with conducive lighting conditions and enough isolation space for each person.

7. Staying Motivated

Sometimes, the decrease in productivity is because of technical issues. As a remote worker, it’s always best to consider backup devices if things go wrong. A backup computer or internet packet can save a lot of incomplete work and pending tasks. Productivity also means investing in performing devices that can handle remote workloads regularly.

The only person who can handle issues with motivation is you. As a person working remotely, the benefit of working flexibly at home, in your work clothes, without the need to commute or experience traffic should be the motivation. Self-discipline takes a lot of work.

How to stay motivated

Motivation isn’t just a self-influenced thing. Many things and tools right now can help you stay motivated. The drive for motivation can come in the form of things such as:

  • Using personal tracker

Look at the store platform of your device. There are many tools made by open source developers for meditation, handling stress, motivation and overall relaxation. Moreover, there are trackers for personal matters that you can use to separate work tasks from individual tasks. People who work and live at home may overlook simple things such as drinking eight glasses of water, praying for 15 minutes or going for a 5-km run.

  • Taking the time for professional and personal goal creation

Career development is one of the biggest pushes you can get for self-motivation. Do you want to vie for a promotion? Are you looking for the next job raise? Plot down your goals and subtasks to accomplish that said goal. Consult with a career counsellor or HR to discuss career opportunities.

  • Rewarding yourself regularly

Self-reward is one of the biggest things people and workers often feel guilty about. Spending money on yourself is never wrong, primarily when you’ve worked and planned hard for the purchase. Just because you’re working at a remote setup doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the budget for fun things. People should still have a life outside of remote work.

  • Asking for emotional support and guidance

Isolation and the beginnings of feelings of despair, and the inability to compartmentalise work and home life can fall into the trap of work fatigue. Never regret asking for emotional guidance or counsel. Inquire about mental health programs and seminars. Check for subscribed apps by the workplace for work-life support.

8. Technical Glitch

About 34% of workers in Europe and the US ranked technical glitches as the second cause of common problems with working remotely (Sava, 2022). Since there is no immediate support, workers must figure things out independently.

Imagine if you don’t know how to repair and recalibrate systems and the only device you have isn’t working; you may miss out on a full day’s task.

Technical glitches are prevalent. As such, organisations still have IT departments to cater to these concerns. Moreover, most organisations already invest in systems catering to remote work. Such scenarios as power outages and internet outages can take a toll on any remote worker’s work schedule.

How to solve this?

It may take some budget to prepare for technical difficulties however, here are some ways to address the problem:

  • Buying a spare computer or laptop
  • Preparing alternative internet packets
  • Keeping up with the news for potential work disruptions
  • Informing project managers and team leads of contingency plans (i.e., overtime the next day in case of emergency, other team members to talk to in case of no-show at work, etc.)
  • Going to the office itself if the workplace is near enough or allowable to remote employees

Embrace Challenges

Around 42% of workers ages 25 to 44 were more comfortable with employers monitoring log-in. A larger number of younger working demographic are even more comfortable with screen recording if it means remote work availability (Sava, 2022).

The future of workforces is remote and other flexible types of working arrangements. Organisations and businesses should be able to keep up with this trend. While the phenomenon is not entirely perfect, it provides avenues and opportunities for broader demographics of people like stay-at-home moms, abled children and persons with disabilities to have a chance at building something sustainable.

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Join our team

Join our team today and be part of a company that values your skills, invest in your professional and personal growth,, and empowers you to make a difference.

Together, we can drive innovations and deliver remarkable results for our clients.

Work with us

Finding the right skills for your business should not be a hassle. With our expertise, extensive network, and personalized approach, we can help you find the perfect match that will fuel your business success.