7 Problems and the Solutions of Remote Team Working
Achieving the optimal working solutions remotely can be difficult at times; especially when working from home. This can be communication, collaboration and efficiency disparities across the team. Although, working remotely has significant advantages for collaboration opportunities especially when done effectively. It can as a collective have wider implications for teamwork, communication and productivity.
1) Productivity attitudes to working from home
It is likely that your team is diverse in demographics such as age, skills, experiences and qualities which can cause differing attitudes to exist about working from home. As a result, individuals will already have anticipated problems or synergies that can undermine or improve productivity. These attitudes can be based on past, pre-existing or long-term anticipations.
Speak with the team at regular intervals to help assess where these attitudes come from. Be open and available to listen, understand and take the initiative to identify where these attitudes stem from and regularly remind the team of the company, department and client expectations. Finally, when managing a team, it is important to lead by example by remaining realistic, avoid negativity and guide the team accordingly.
Technology can be a double-edged sword. It can either be really helpful or disruptive especially when there are technical issues. Be aware that different technological issues exist for different people in the team. There could be connectivity issues, speed of internet which can differ by geographic region, shared computers and technologies, and even different skill levels with different skills and understanding on setting up and using new software.
Offer your employees the same tool and access to technology either by providing work laptops and equipment. Also ensure that your IT support team and systems are helpful and good at helping. Finally, remind the whole team of the importance of cybersecurity as any adverse infiltration can cause major issues. Finally, the training opportunities to adjust to new process and operational software must be readily available with good support.
3) Bullying and Gossip
The working culture can create opportunities for inappropriate conversations and unfortunately a space for bullying and unnecessary gossip. It is important to remind the team the importance of professional conversations. If you are using WhatsApp, Skype, Teams and other collective groups, remind the team to only share information that they feel comfortable with and apply good judgement on what is appropriate, important and useful. This is not the space necessarily for inappropriate memes, banter and non-conventional beliefs or offensive content.
Make short and simple ground rules and remind the group that conversation is monitored by the relevant departments. Refer the team back to company policies regarding harassment, bullying and diversity as well as the importance of making the team environment as professional and polite as possible without the expense of others.
4) Channels and Approval
Working from home can create blurred or warped perceptions of roles and responsibilities such as who can oversee, approve, take on and of course sign off deliverables. This is because emails and work requests can be sent to any member of the team without including the line managers in the workload. This can create quality problems, time issues and inefficiencies in the allocation of responsibilities.
Resolving this can be very easy by ensuring new and existing members are clear on their roles and responsibilities, who they report to and the organisation chart on who is responsible for certain processes and projects.
5) Different locations and time zones
People may choose to work from different locations and time zones which can create issues on communicating deadlines, responsiveness and extent of productivity especially if they are working in rural areas with low connectivity.
Diarise the preferences of people working times and days and encourage the member of the team to share where they are working from.
6) Using skewed indicators of performance
It is easy to use how many hours your team works as a good indicator of performance. Whilst it may show dedication, it is not a good indication of productivity. This can encourage stress, burnout and resentments.
Do not incentivise the number of hours worked. Do not link it to bonuses, promotion, client projects or even performance. Instead use quality, organisation, time management, meeting client deadlines and other useful categories as your measurement of good performance.
The wellbeing situation for each individual is different. Some people are dealing with loneliness, others financial burdens, and some extra caring responsibility, others health and mental wellbeing or even domestic pressures. The truth is that a manager can never truly know; however, to some extent, the safety and wellbeing of the team is important to a good manager.
Regularly remind the team of the support avenues available for professional and personal issues. Conduct regular one to one meetings and catch-ups as an opportunity to listen to work progress and anything that can be indicative of serious underlining issues that your colleague or team would like to let you know.