Unintended Consequences of Remote Work
The pandemic may be over, but remote working is very much here to stay.
And it’s easy to see why. Giving your employees the flexibility to work outside of the office has a variety of benefits, from boosting employee wellbeing to driving innovation. But, like any major workplace shift, it also has its drawbacks - many of which can come as a surprise to unprepared managers and team members.
Remote working vs in-person
When the working world first went remote, it was an uneasy transition accompanied by a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Workplaces adopted the work from home model out of necessity and are now grappling with some unexpected challenges and issues as they work out the details.
For employees, the lack of in-person contact can lead to fears about miscommunication, being underappreciated, and a lack of support. For managers, it can be hard to keep track of remote teams and stay on top of their performance and productivity.
Both managers and employees can successfully navigate these changes with a focus on flexibility, communication, and building a resilient, adaptive mindset.
Common employee concerns
How do I get promoted if I never meet my boss in person?
Ambitious employees want to get noticed for their efforts. That’s sometimes tough in a busy office and even more difficult when that office is virtual.
If you feel like your efforts are slipping under the radar however, don’t be afraid to ask for a meeting with your manager. Share your career goals, get feedback, and find out what you can do to be considered for promotion. Making a good impression isn’t just about handshakes with the boss. It comes down to good work and effective communication.
For their part, managers can address these kinds of concerns by keeping a close eye on their team - using measurable data such as KPIs to objectively assess individual performance and providing opportunities for advancement for those that stand out. Leaders should also schedule regular reviews so both parties have a chance to discuss their objectives and respective roles on the team going forward.
How do I learn new things without direct engagement in person with my peers?
In an office, colleagues pick up skills almost unconsciously - learning by exposure and example. A remote setting isn’t ideal for this kind of knowledge transfer, but that doesn’t mean upskilling is impossible.
Seek out more structured, formal training programs to cover any big skill gaps. On a smaller scale, colleagues can use messaging platforms and other communication tools to stay in touch, asking for help or guidance if they run into roadblocks. Be sure to make the most of these internal networks, thinking of them as a kind of virtual watercooler where you can share ideas, explore solutions, or get new insights.
In conjunction, managers should support their eager employees by identifying skills gaps among their teams, and then providing both structured and informal training to address them. They should also collaborate with employees to find out exactly what they want, in a supportive manner. It’s crucial for staff to feel comfortable sharing their weak spots in order for them to improve upon them.
Common concerns for managers
How do we build culture remotely?
The lack of social interaction is one of the most common complaints associated with remote working. The way we collaborate and bond is a complex process that can’t be easily replicated through a screen.
That’s why it’s important for leaders to put in the extra effort to build an inclusive company culture and combat the isolation that often comes with working from home.
There are two components to company culture - structured policies and procedures relating to issues like diversity, and a more informal aspect that focuses on building a workplace ethos in line with company values. In a remote workplace, it’s often the latter that trips companies up.
Building a culture starts with building relationships. Create virtual team-building activities, encourage your staff to spend time chatting with their colleagues on shared networks, host video team meetings - all these can help create a close-knit community culture despite the distance.
And try to close that distance where possible. If some team members are in close proximity, consider arranging in-person meet-ups so staff can get together face to face. Find opportunities to connect in this way - even infrequent meetings can help build empathy and engagement.
How do we monitor deliverables and keep employees accountable?
First ensure your employees know exactly what’s expected of them. Your team should have a sense of what needs to be done on an ongoing basis, including deadlines for each task. This requires an organized approach to project management, preferably through a central platform that charts all current and open tasks, rather than allocating work piecemeal via dozens of back-and-forth emails.
Once your staff have their objectives, managers can hone in on the resulting productivity data. To do that effectively, they need the right tech tools. Employee Productivity Monitoring (EPM) solutions give managers full visibility into their team’s daily activities across core company applications.
With visibility into how remote team members are engaged you can identify who is exceeding expectations and who needs to pick up the slack. Those insights enable managers to make evidence-based decisions on who needs encouragement, who is in danger of burnout, and who really deserves that promotion, rather than relying on gut feel.
Prodoscore provides a bird’s eye view of how and when your team interacts with company tools such as emails, project management software, CRM, and others. A cloud-based solution ideal for remote teams, it compiles invaluable data about how your staff work into one, easily accessible, dashboard. To schedule a demonstration or find out more, contact our team today.