The Main Challenges of Managing a Remote TeamAugust 4, 2022 No Comments
Featured article by Vanja Zivkovic
Before we dive into some of the difficulties of managing a remote team, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of the-pandemic times, when employers were convinced that being productive while working from home was impossible. This has just been disproven by the fact that we all managed to work remotely during the lockdowns and be highly productive; studies show that remote and hybrid work is here to stay.
Even though it wasn’t the most comfortable change within the workplace, the switch to remote and hybrid working was largely made possible thanks to modern SaaS solutions, particularly – software for monitoring employees. With a few clicks, employers would have proof of their employees’ work, as well as performance data and other work-related analytics.
Over the past three years, a lot of remote work research concluded that remote workers are happier, more motivated (for longer periods of time), take fewer sick days off, and tend to stay in their jobs longer than onsite workers. People don’t want to spend hours commuting to the workplace when they can be just as effective, if not more while working from home.
Simply put: free office doughnuts and coffee aren’t a sufficient motivator to get people to the workplace anymore. People are more aware of the effects of stressful work environments, and therefore want a job that offers flexibility and more holistic practices, focused on the wellbeing of the team.
When properly managed, remote teams can help businesses become more agile and cost-efficient when they are put in the right managing hands. Even though managing a remote team has a lot of benefits, it comes with a set of unique challenges. For example, those who were trained within the parameters of the traditional workplace may have a harder time adapting to the new, hybrid system.
Let’s go over some of the main challenges and how to overcome them.
Employee Safety and Security
Cybercrime is on a steady, exponential rise, totaling around $6 trillion worth of damages globally in 2021, according to the Cybersecurity Almanac. Security has always been a major concern for any company, no matter the size. However, protecting remote workers has shown itself to be a bigger challenge, in comparison to onsite workers.
Things to be wary of when managing a remote team:
- Open, unsecured networks
- Phishing emails
- Weak passwords
- Unsecured (home) devices
- Unencrypted file sharing
Monitoring software for employees can help keep your company safe and compliant through monitoring, tracking, and analyzing the employee’s behavior. You can set up alerts if an employee tries to visit a sketchy website or engages in risky behavior that could put the company in danger.
Most security breaches happen due to human error, and in a remote setting, they mostly happen because of a lack of technical skills and security knowledge. Apart from implementing a monitoring solution, added mandatory security training for all employees will help lower any security risks.
Lack of Real Interaction
Studies conducted on remote work have shown that, despite the benefits, remote workers feel lonely and isolated ruining their productivity. These feelings are often followed by big drops in productivity. If you want to be a fair and helpful manager for your remote team, you must be ready to deal with this challenge.
Without a bustling office and regular human interaction, some workers simply feel “too alone” in their work or feel like “they don’t belong”, which can have consequences not only for the company but for the overall well-being of the worker. Social isolation can lead to depression and anxiety, not to mention that it can increase the desire to abandon the company.
The effective solution for this issue can be to establish structured daily or weekly check-ins with your employee. If possible – create project milestones with precise deadlines, and use the check-ins to follow their progress. This way, you can also have insight into whether they come across an obstacle or need more managerial support in different areas of the project.
Burnout and Overworking
In January 2022, the World Health Organisation (WHO) entered “burnout” in the International Classification of Diseases, and defined it as “a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.
Working has shifted to a hybrid-remote model due to the fact that people want more flexibility and freedom in their work since it facilitates better mental health practices and lowers the risk of employees damaging their health. However, establishing the ideal work-life balance isn’t easy for everyone.
Research has shown that many workers tend to blur the boundaries between work time and relaxation time, causing them to overwork themselves. We all want a workspace that promotes happy and healthy working… So how can this be achieved in a remote setting?
Software for monitoring employees is the solution. This tool can help you look out for people who are working much longer hours than they should. People don’t always feel comfortable coming to their employer with an issue, particularly if it has something to do with their work performance. Therefore, it’s sometimes necessary for employers to investigate potential employee performance issues and try to offer support in a proactive way.
For example, through data gathered from this tool, an employer can encourage potentially overworked employees to take longer and more frequent breaks, and engage in activities that promote mindfulness and naturally lower stress levels. Burnout can take months, sometimes even years to recover from. Protecting your employees from the damaging effects of burnout should be one of the top priorities of employers.
The Benefits Outweigh The Challenges
Whether you use monitoring software for employees or not, working remotely brings along many indisputable benefits. More flexibility, more autonomy, higher productivity, higher employee retention rates, and higher turnover rates are to be expected when switching to remote-hybrid work.
While the perks are undeniable, problems can still occur, and you’ll need to know how to react appropriately and effectively. By being aware of these challenges and preparing possible solutions or contingency plans in advance, you’ll be able to manage your remote team successfully, without even breaking a sweat.
Vanja Zivkovic is a content writer at Insightful with a particular interest in SaaS and improving the workspace through technology and information. She was born and raised in Rotterdam, educated in Belgrade and Iowa, and is currently living and working in Belgrade. Apart from writing about technology and how it transforms the world that we live in, she enjoys poetry, learning, and traveling.