Before the pandemic, the idea of remote working or working from home might have only seemed to be associated with freelancers, those running small businesses or creators starting in their bedrooms. As of 2021, the whole world has been exposed to working from home and figuring out how to transition from office life to working remotely with large and small teams.
Remote working has proven to be achievable and works for various businesses and industries across the world. Some large companies have now agreed that employees can work from home forever, giving up large corporate spaces or moving to smaller co-working spaces to host monthly meet-ups or desk space to be used as and when people need them.
But what are the challenges that come with remote working for small businesses and start-ups?
Productivity and mental health
When working face to face or in an office environment, there are easy and accessible ways to communicate with employees or team members. Face-to-face communication is also a way of identifying how people’s body language plays out in conversations and meetings and can help address issues in the workplace. When everyone is working from home, productivity management is a very different world for managers when you cannot peer over people’s shoulders or be accessible for questions and updates.
You do not want to push your team to a point where you get “zoom fatigue” (which we will talk about later) or book in stand-up meetings far too early that people don’t even show up.
Balance and strategies that work for everyone are something that will have to be tried and tested.
Zoom fatigue is becoming a new trend term used amongst online event creatives, but it is a very true term. Initial meetings, which had to move to zoom calls, get longer, more intense, and sometimes people do not even show up. Zoom calls that could have just email and having back-to-back calls throughout the day will not help anyone when trying to get work done. Of course, it’s not just the platform Zoom. It can happen on any of the video platforms used, such as Google Meet, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facetime, and even Slack.
It can be straightforward to fall into the trap of just agreeing to multiple calls without considering the alternatives;
- Try and encourage your team to reduce the amount of calls they are having.
- Try not to book back-to-back calls, but if you have too why not have 1 day a week to dedicate to call meetings
- Question the purpose of the call? Can the questions or focus of the meetings be answered through another platform such as WhatsApp, email or a Slack channel?
Working too much & prioritizing time
With working from home, there is a high chance of working too many hours during the day. When it is easy to access your laptop or computer, and you don’t have to worry about commuting or leaving the house, it can be easy to sit and forget there should be some balance.
- Clear communication on what times you are working.
- Blocking out times to have a lunch break or when you are done for the day.
- Telling the team that you are done for the day, through email, slack or discord channels.
- Turning off notifications on your phone.
Technology Accessibility issues and failures
Not everyone has the best internet connection globally, and many people have had to dust off some old laptops to be able to work from home. With any work transition, tech issues and failures may take a few weeks to establish and then be resolved but having a plan for potential issues is something to have in your back pocket.
If you already provide laptops or iPads for your team to work from, ensure that everyone has access to what they need. If they can’t collect or take it with them, working out a technology budget for your employees will be invaluable, especially if you are thinking of moving your team to remote working for a long period of time. Knowing your team has everything they need will increase workflow and productivity.
We all know that, unfortunately, the internet cannot always be reliable and can fail. Finding out who might not have the best connection, seeing if it can be resolved through company’s cost (looking at company internet) if not, identifying what issues this might cause – problems with logging onto video calls? Suggesting that audio is fine for calls or making sure that someone else can jump in when/ if connection issues arise.
One of the most inclusive things about working remotely is that you can hire a team from all over the world. Of course, this may cause some issues regarding time zones and work collectively on projects.
Knowing what each team member’s time zones are meant less confusion about contact or problems with deadlines.
Working together on a channel like Slack will allow you to see who is online and if they can answer questions or work on projects.
If you are thinking about making the transition into a remote working business, it’s always worth asking questions.
- What challenges might occur?
- How can I or we get around these?
- How will we know if it is a success or not?
- Are there ways to provide support for team members when it does not work out?
Every business has had to tackle the challenges of working from home. Many people are comfortable in the environment and thrive, but some do not. These challenges can be addressed and remedied, and it just might take a bit more time to figure out the most optimal solution that works for your team.
Our Guest Contributor
Tim has worked with graphics and hardware for his whole career, working as a creative in adland and then becoming an animator, delivering promos for a wide range of music artists. Tim co-founded Future Visual in 2015 to focus exclusively on building Virtual and Augmented Reality technology for enterprise training and learning.