The United Kingdom has issued a nationwide stay-at-home order to lower risks of infection among the populace, and businesses are shifting to remote working arrangements in order to keep operations going. If you’re part of a small- or mid-size enterprise (SME) currently employing a remote workforce, you may have encountered several challenges due to this arrangement. Some issues may have even caused miscommunications, downtime, or revenue loss.
But don’t despair. We’ve compiled the three most common challenges of working from home and how you can overcome them. Follow these practices to ensure that day-to-day operations run efficiently even during a pandemic.
Productivity dips during remote working may be caused by several factors. For one, some people adapt to changes slower than others, so they grapple with balancing work and other responsibilities for a time before they find their pace.
Some employees also work better when managers physically check in on their progress, and with no one keeping them up on their toes, employees may lose sight of their priorities.
Distractions like boisterous children, playful pets, or loud neighbors can also lower productivity. Or it could be that one’s house is just not built to be an office: there’s no space in which to put a computer and other hardware, no ergonomic furniture, and no stable internet connection so working becomes a struggle.
What to do
Better time management is crucial in achieving higher productivity. Make a to-do list so you can prioritise tasks according to urgency and importance. If you have a good grasp of your workload, you can better plan how you’ll allocate time and energy to each task.
Demanding accountability from employees can also push them to perform. Set daily or weekly targets, and occasionally remind your workforce about it. This way, they know exactly what’s expected of them and they have no excuse to slack off.
Lastly, working conditions should be optimal so that workers can do their job well. For instance, the technology tools workers use should function flawlessly and efficiently to avoid bottlenecks and downtime.
Poor team communication
Distance becomes a problem when teams can’t be on the same page to deliver the highest quality of products and services. Inefficient feedback processes, unclear directives, and missed emails can all add to delays in business deliverables and loss of revenue.
And because there are no more ‘water cooler talks’ where connections are built and ideas are discussed, it can be difficult to defuse tensions that arise among team members.
What to do
Even though nothing comes close to face-to-face communication, digital solutions like Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Slack are helping bridge remote teams all over the world. Set weekly meetings to talk about your team’s progress, goals, and plans so you’re clear about terminologies and courses of action to undertake.
Moreover, maximise IT solutions to improve teamwide relationships. Resolve conflicts through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions, introduce online team activities, or talk about non-work topics on chat apps. During this time when people have to be physically distant from each other, it’s necessary that you’re able to face challenges as a team.
For more efficient means of communication, use productivity tools that allow you to minimise delays, like Office 365. Instead of sending files back and forth, collaborate with peers in real time. You can even chat within the document itself using the app’s built-in chat feature.
Difficulty in unplugging
According to a 2019 study by analysis company Buffer, unplugging after work is the biggest struggle most remote workers face. After all, it can be difficult to delineate work from other life tasks because everything is done in the same space — sometimes using the same tools. For example, how does one demarcate that the time for answering work emails is over and it’s now time to scroll through social media for fun?
This struggle to differentiate between work and life tasks can cause employee burnout and stress. They may even feel that they are doing more work than before because they are putting in more hours.
What to do
Make clear boundaries between work and play. Talk to your team and set expectations for your available hours. Consciously stay away from work-related tasks on your days off, and focus on nurturing hobbies and interests that don’t involve technology. If something is truly urgent and you have to work beyond your shift, schedule breaks every couple of hours to keep yourself energised.
Office Tek can help you overcome the challenges of remote working
Partnering with an IT managed services provider (MSP) like Office Tek can ensure that remote workers don’t encounter any technology-related problems. Our team of dedicated IT experts will proactively monitor your systems and provide solutions so that your workforce can access files, collaborate with colleagues, hold video conferences, and meet deadlines without encountering IT hiccups. No downtime means better productivity — and it’s also easier to unplug if you’re able to accomplish your work on time.
Office Tek is your local technology solutions provider. Our wide array of IT services will allow you to efficiently leverage technology to help you get over your remote working hurdles. Call us at 0121 525 0016, or send us a message today.