The world of work has undergone a remote revolution. The remote work environment has gone from a niche practice to a massive shift in the way people perform their jobs. As a result, companies and employees alike are assessing and reassessing what remote work means to them. Is the current state of affairs here to stay? If so, what does the future hold?
With 97% of remote workers saying they’d recommend it to others, it’s clear people overwhelmingly want to continue working remotely, even when the pandemic responsible for the change is over. For employers, that means adopting new technologies and methods to ensure in-house and remote workers have the tools and motivation they need to stay connected and productive.
A digital workplace also depends on the skills and mindsets employees must possess to do their best work from wherever they are and from whatever device they choose. To manage and maintain such a work environment, employers need to seek out efficient ways to overcome any hurdles that stand between them and digital transformation success.
Common Challenges With a Remote Work Environment
There have always been challenges inherent to a remote work environment, and the fact more people are now working remotely has not changed them.
- Lack of face-to-face supervision comes with its own set of obstacles. Employers worry they can’t effectively monitor productivity, and employees can feel isolated and disconnected without immediate feedback. Management must learn to operate from a place of trust, and employees need incentives that show them they’re seen and valued.
- Lack of access to information makes it difficult to perform work-related tasks and collaborate with other team members. A scarcity of what experts call “mutual knowledge” can lead to decreased motivation, enthusiasm, and productivity.
- Loss of social interaction was recently identified as a top complaint of remote workers, second only to unplugging after the workday was through. Employees often end up feeling less connected to their workplace, which can lead to higher attrition rates.
- Home distractions have been challenging across the board. By now, nearly everyone has seen a network news interview where the interviewee’s child or pet wanders into frame. Distractions can kill productivity and compromise team progress.
Even with all the challenges a remote work environment brings to the table, the good news is there are practical and relatively simple steps management can take to ease the transition to a digital workplace.
Are Your Remote Employees Properly Equipped?
Helping employees adjust to a remote work environment isn’t as difficult as you might think, especially with technology on your side.
- Develop a digital culture that focuses on people and technology. Companies that do this see increased innovation and more efficient work habits in their employees. They also tend to attract and retain higher-quality talent.
- Ensure employees have access to the information they need to complete tasks and make sound business decisions by giving them different technologies like cloud services and teleconferencing platforms that offer the visual cues they’d typically get face to face.
- Equip employees with the supplemental technologies they need to be successful. Mobile phones and laptops may be the most common tools employees use, but there may be other solutions you can provide to make work easier. Screen sharing software, online office suites, and a strong, dependable internet connection can all boost productivity and engagement.
- Provide opportunities for remote social interaction through techniques like opening remote team meetings with everyone recapping their weekend and offering encouragement and emotional support, so people feel ready to meet the challenges remote work often brings.
Finally, be sure to communicate often and extensively. Two-way dialogues ensure engagement stays high and employees understand decisions being made by management. Employees also get to express and process negative and positive emotions, and they feel supported doing so.
For better or worse, a remote work environment is here to stay. Experts predict the percentage of permanent remote workers will double in 2021. Two-thirds of businesses plan to permanently shift employees to at least some remote work after the pandemic ends.
Will your business continue to work remotely after the pandemic has ended? If so, you could greatly benefit from working with an experienced IT managed services provider who can guide you in choosing the right technologies to support your digital transformation goals. Managing and maintaining a remote workforce can be tough, but with the right tools, you can be better prepared for a world where remote work is quickly becoming the norm.