Remote work is rapidly becoming the new normal. More and more people are spending time working out of the office, and the growth in the gig economy means this trend is likely to continue.
In general, this is excellent news. Remote working arrangements allow employees to live their lives more freely and with greater flexibility. And it gives employers the chance to expand their workforce without having to absorb additional overhead, such as office space. Want to hire some talented people and get in on some of that remote goodness? Talk to us.
But just because you engage in remote work, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to succeed. It is possible for remote work to fail, but this isn’t necessarily the fault of remote work itself. It’s usually because employees and managers don’t adapt correctly to the new arrangement. And this is something that can be avoided. To help you make the most of remote work, here are some of the top reasons it sometimes fails.
Communication Breaks Down
By now you should be fully aware that communication is one of the keys to success. Everyone needs to be on the same page about what you’re working towards and what’s expected from them. But because remote workers are far away and not physically present in the office, there is an increased risk for a communication breakdown, which can turn the arrangement from a nice perk into a real headache.
Here are two fundamental ways to prevent this from happening. First, it’s important you do as much as possible to clarify what needs to be done before assigning work. Remote workers like to set their schedules, or they work in different time zones, and this could create a scenario where someone has to ask a question but can’t reach the person they need. Creating detailed briefs about the work to be done, or scheduling calls at the beginning of a project will help outline precisely what’s expected of each person.
Another thing to do is to give remote workers the tools they need to communicate with the rest of the team. Productivity suites such as Slack are great, as they provide a centralized place for everyone to interact. Relying on email could cause essential messages to get lost, and this can have disastrous consequences down the line. If you use one of these platforms, consider asking people to check in at regular intervals. This way everyone stays connected, and you can keep communication flowing no matter where or when people are working.
Managers Do Too Much
When hiring remote workers, managers need to learn how to change their management style. While it might be totally normal to check in at people’s desks when they’re working in the office, the digital equivalent of this practice—pinging people with messages to see how they are doing—can be seen as annoying micromanagement, pushing remote workers away and causing them to disconnect.
You need to accept that remote workers do things differently. Many will put projects off and rely on the pressure of being up against a deadline to get things done. This might be frustrating, but it’s part of the nature of remote work, so it’s best just to adapt and move on.
Which is another reason why communication is so important. By putting the onus of giving status updates on the remote worker, it’s easier for you to sit back and let them do their thing. Regular and kickoff meetings are also good, as this makes sure people know what they’re doing before they start a project, reducing the need for managers to check in as often. Of course, you need to make yourself available should any questions arise, but this needs to be in a much more hands-off manner than what many of us are used to.
Remote Workers Feel Forgotten
Remote workers enjoy the freedom that comes with being able to work out of the office. But this doesn’t mean they don’t want to feel connected to the company and the work being done.
It’s important to include remote workers in company-wide initiatives. If you’re throwing a party, invite them to join by conference call. Or if you’re giving out accolades, make sure remote workers are included whenever necessary. Also, if you offer in-office employees perks, try your best to provide something equivalent, as this will help people feel a stronger affinity towards the company and the work they do.
Some people choose to work remotely because they want to work in their PJs while watching Netflix. But many others do it because they have family or other personal commitments, and they shouldn’t be punished for this by being left out of things going on around the company. If this happens, then you’ll likely find remote workers become disengaged and much less productive, which isn’t good for anyone.
Terms Are Unclear or Unmet
Many remote workers are hired as contractors. And this often means their pay schedules are different from other employees, which could lead to some payroll issues down the road. And nothing sours a remote working relationship more than when an employer fails to pay for the work a remote employee has done.
If you need to pay people differently than you usually would, then make sure they are completely clear about the new terms. You may also want to enlist the services of a payroll or HR firm, as they can help you set up systems that will pay people when they’re expecting to be paid, something that keeps the relationship healthy and productive.
Don’t Let Remote Work Fail
There is no reason why remote work cannot be an asset to your company. Should it fail, it’s probably because of one of the reasons mentioned above. As a result, make sure to adapt accordingly before there’s an issue, as this will allow you to take full advantage of all that remote work has to offer. Need to find the perfect fit for your team, for your culture? Get in touch, and we’ll do our best to help.