4 Pitfalls of Remote Work (and How to Overcome Them)
Working remotely was a foreign idea a few years ago, but today it’s more and more common. With advances in technology and new ways of thinking, remote work is not only widely accepted, but it’s now the preferred choice for many companies.
Not only do companies get to save money by foregoing the traditional physical office space, but employees can take advantage of the perks of working from home, too, like extra flexibility and the lack of a commute. My own company is 100 percent remote, with over 40 team members, and it works great for us. But if you’re new to remote work, you need to be aware of the common mistakes that could spell disaster for your employees and your company.
Take a look at these four pitfalls of remote work and how to overcome them.
Lack of community
For introverts who thrive on solitude, working remotely might be a dream come true. But for extroverts who get a boost from interacting with others, the lack of community in remote work might take a toll. While weekly video meetings are important for remote companies, it’s still hard to create a feeling of community through a computer screen.
Those weekly meetings that are mostly strictly business will do little to comfort remote workers who are feeling disconnected from people.
Luckily, there are a number of ways to combat the lack of community some remote workers feel: First, make sure to provide and nurture an online community for your remote workers. At our company, we use the communication tool Slack. We have different channels for each remote team, but we also have a “Family” channel so our remote workers can shoot the breeze with one other.
It’s also important to get together at least once a year for a company retreat. A yearly retreat will allow all of your remote workers to meet face to face and make genuine connections that will inspire a stronger sense of community.
When you're working remotely, all of your communication is typically handled via the internet. This can prove difficult when there are so many channels to message coworkers on; these include email, instant messaging apps, project management tools and more. Information can easily slip through the cracks if your remote teammate doesn’t know which platform to check for messages.
So, get rid of email as a form of daily communication, or use it sparingly. Instead, choose one form of messaging that everyone sticks to. Slack, mentioned earlier, is a great choice since you can create channels for each team and message team members directly. Having your entire remote team on the same communication platform will help improve your communication.
Loss of productivity and distractions
Working from home can increase distractions that result in a loss of your remote workers' productivity. Remote workers may have kids or other family members around interrupting them, friends and neighbors calling, a TV turned on with a compelling program -- the list goes on.
To ensure your remote workers are productive and minimize distractions, encourage them to create an office space for themselves at home. If they’re using the kitchen table or the couch in the living room where they’ll be bothered by family members, they need a space to go so that others know they’re in work mode.
You can also encourage them to use tools to help them focus more. Cold Turkey is a great tool to block out distracting websites. You may not be able to get them to turn off the TV, but anything to help your remote workers decrease distractions is a plus.
Lack of security
If your business deals with a lot of sensitive data, a remote worker walking around with all of that information on a laptop is a terrifying thought. Storing sensitive data online, like payment information and passwords, for instance, leaves you vulnerable. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to boost security even with remote workers.
First, you can use a password manager like LastPass to beef up security. You can save all of your passwords to the LastPass vault so that remote workers only have to log in to LastPass with one password. Then, LastPass will automatically log them into the accounts you give them access to.
The added bonus is that if a team member leaves, you only have to change one password. Also, if you’re using G Suite for company email, you can protect your data by making sure that managed devices for your remote workers have a screen lock or a password.
Remote work doesn’t mean you have to give up complete control of your employees and let them run wild. And your team members won’t have to sacrifice their happiness or mental health to work remotely for your company either. Just follow these tips and your remote team will be a great success.