10 Challenges of Telecommuting and How to Overcome Them
Struggling with the challenges of telecommuting?
Telecommuting has exploded in popularity. It’s fast becoming a prerequisite for both job seekers and employers everywhere. That’s because telecommuting offers many benefits to both employees and companies.
- Employees face less time commuting and more time for themselves, their families, and their work.
- Employers gain the ability to hire talent from all over the world.
- Companies can reduce business costs, such as office space and turnover.
Despite its growing prominence, there are many challenges of telecommuting. From feeling isolated to struggling to cope with technical problems, working from home isn’t always a breeze.
First, though, to fully understand the challenges of telecommuting, as well as realize the solutions, it’s helpful to have a picture of the major telecommuting trends.
Trends in Telecommuting
Telecommuting only continues to grow in popularity. The reasons are many and range from an enhanced employee work-life balance to a reduction in employer overhead.
The Challenges of Telecommuting and How to Overcome Them
As telecommuting increasingly becomes the norm, it will continue to pose frustrations for employees and employers alike.
Read below the 10 biggest telecommuting challenges, as well as how to overcome them – so you can sustainably reap the benefits of today.
Lack of Telecommuting Policy
A remote work policy sets the stage for what’s expected of your telecommuters. Without it, employees are more prone to the difficulties of working from home, while companies are ill-equipped to manage their telecommuters.
The fix: If you haven’t already, establish a remote work policy. An adequate policy sets some basic ground rules to enable effective management of a telecommuting staff, determine clear communication and collaboration channels, and put in place a course of action in case of tech-related issues.
Isolation is an often-underestimated telecommuting challenge. While 42% of remote workers feel as connected as their on-site colleagues, that’s still less than half. That’s a lot of isolated telecommuters. With no office chit-chat or shared coffee breaks, telecommuting can get lonely.
The fix: You have to take steps to fill the void left by a lack of social interaction. Use a video calling app to regularly touch base with teammates and also carry out shared tasks like meetings or the daily stand-up. Set up a group chat for sharing team successes and casual conversation.
And consider using instant messaging instead of email. Email may still be your method of choice, but IM is faster, more personal, and more effective at building team relationships.
Not equipping your telecommuters leaves them empty-handed and incapable of delivering the results your business needs to thrive. On the other hand, too many tools can cripple workflows.
The fix: First and foremost, craft a toolkit that reflects your telecommuters’ and team’s needs. Beyond that, a good rule of thumb is to choose the fewest number of tools to get the job done.
In many cases, you can get the job done with a robust team chat app, project tracking software, sound knowledge management, and a productivity app or two. Good collaboration tools should feature all-in-one capability, providing a range of functionalities on the same platform.
Security concerns are a fact of life, but more so with telecommuting. When employees are no longer in the secure confines of the office, but rather in their homes – where they’re more relaxed – the potential for careless behavior increases.
The fix: To address these concerns, mitigate the potential of sensitive information leaks, data breaches, and snooping before they happen.
Use a VPN to establish a more secure connection with your business network. Have a secure backup of all data and information. Furthermore, make sure all internal communication is encrypted end-to-end. Encrypted, peer-to-peer communication on a fully private team network diminishes the risk of internal negligence or misbehavior while protecting you against snooping or man-in-the-middle attacks.
Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges of telecommuting is technical problems. IT glitches, hardware problems, and app and software issues can halt productivity in its tracks.
The fix: You can’t prevent software bugs or hardware malfunctions, but you can try to stay one step ahead of them. Have a backup plan in place for when the wifi goes awry or you’re met with a barrage of error messages.
In many instances, remote troubleshooting can diagnose and fix technical problems. Many screen-sharing apps feature remote desktop control capable of running remote diagnostics, investigating errors, installing programs, and configuring settings and software.
Poor Routine and Diet
Telecommuting presents many challenges. But one difficulty that’s often overlooked is the impact it can have on your daily routine and diet. Working from home can blur the boundary between work and leisure. What’s more, when the fridge is always within reach, the lure of snacks can be hard to resist.
The fix: Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks. Make them meaningful, though. Take a walk, read, do some yoga, or check in with family and friends.
When it comes to your diet, have in mind that there’s a direct correlation between your diet and productivity, sleep cycles, and self-control. Avoid binging on carbs and empty calories and go for healthy options like fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
No Team Camaraderie
There’s a saying that a team that plays together stays together. But that’s easier said than done for a team of telecommuters. How do you foster sustainable team momentum when everyone’s in their own bubble?
The fix: Improving team camaraderie doesn’t have to be a challenge. Often, the right team communication tool can go a long way toward improving team spirit and morale. For those times when you need a little something extra, consider a team-building activity. From quizzes or group personality tests to movie-watching, remote team-building activities can bridge the disconnect and foster a happier and more productive team.
Different Time Zones
Different time zones can throw a wrench into team collaboration. A noon meeting in Europe is a brutal wake-up call for your North American counterparts. On the flip side, it’s unfair to ask your European team to join an afternoon meeting East Coast Time when their workday has ended.
The fix: Be mindful of time zones and try to pick a time when everyone’s at least had their first cup of coffee. Sometimes, there’s just no avoiding the inconvenient time. But try to rotate so it isn’t always the same teammate joining a video call after hours or, worse, at 4:00 a.m. local time.
Loss of Focus
It’s only normal to lose focus. You’re not a robot, so you can’t expect to maintain maximum focus all day every day, especially during coronavirus times when many of us aren’t accustomed to telecommuting. But there are steps you can take to maintain more consistent productivity.
The fix: While telecommuting, try mimicking prior routines from when you worked in an office. Set an alarm, make coffee, and get dressed. Make to-do lists and get to know your productive times. Schedule everything if you have to, including your breaks.
And utilize technology. There are loads of tech tools to keep you connected during the COVID era, or just boost your engagement in case you find yourself with some more free time.
Telecommuting comes with its share of distractions. Whether you’ve got little ones, pets, a messy work environment, or an addictive social media habit (or all of the above), working from home doesn’t have to wreck your productivity.
The fix: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If you’re balancing kids while working from home, sync your most challenging tasks with their nap or independent playtime. Use your breaks to walk the dog and get some fresh air.
Tidying up can pay dividends, too. Keep your workspace well-stocked and get all your supplies ready beforehand. Getting up to search for a pen or paperclip chips away at your productivity and could lead to other distractions.
Finally, take steps to trim social media use during the workday. Log out of your accounts, remove browser shortcuts, or delete the apps from your smartphone during the workweek.
All signs point to a continued rise in telecommuting. That said, as you ponder the future, consider carefully the challenges that come as a result of working remotely.
Are you and your remote workers able to meet those challenges? Can you provide your telecommuters a system to enable peak performance, day after day?
Consider Brosix! An instant messaging software for businesses, Brosix provides encrypted, real-time communication and collaboration to streamline how day-to-day business gets done. It’s practically overcome the challenges of telecommuting. Give it a try!