Sure, work from home is easy for many of us. Remote working has lots of benefits of its own—no frustrating commute to the office, no office-floor distractions, and no colleagues intruding your workflow. Many of us are much more productive and engaged now after the world went to lockdowns. However, many employees are still struggling with remote work scenarios. It isn’t for everyone, they say.
Many surveys have pointed out that more than 70 percent of employees globally experience work/life balance and have successfully maintained healthy stress levels. But what about those who haven’t and are still struggling with remote work as they learn how to adjust? Let’s discuss it in this article.
Challenges Employees Face with Remote Work
“Remote work is the new normal for many. Leaders who sense a lack of control due to their lack of employee interaction may micromanage their teams, leading to reduced engagement, poor motivation, and low productivity.” – Gartner.
Many employees undergo anxiety and stress due to a lack of face-to-face communication, and likewise, the managers feel similar pressure. Failure to communicate or express in direct conversations and address concerns creates a blurry image for employees and managers alike.
Typically, remote work runs efficiently only when both have enough trust, understanding, clear communication, and support. Not all employees are comfortable working under pressure; some tend to panic and lose focus, resulting in a significant drop in productivity and performance.
However, the post-COVID world has unexpectedly and forcefully put us in this remote working situation. Yet, many organizations are thriving. To start with an example, many Dallas-based organizations have managed to hire and support multiple new employees who are struggling with remote work in the IT industry, such as in custom software development houses providing tech solutions. Let’s understand a few practical and realistic tips which can help in this process.
#1. Establish a Clear Communication Flow
Working remotely from home is now the new normal. It’s frustrating for a new team member to feel lost, confused, and stressed out when a regular and proper communication channel hasn’t been set in the daily work schedule. Sometimes the manager is unavailable for hours, and at times the team member is juggling between home and work duties. To ensure that misunderstandings or negative feelings don’t interrupt your team’s productivity or performance, establish scheduled daily check-ins.
It’s imperative to address queries and concerns. Offer feedback frequently; don’t go overboard, creating a “fatigue” situation, and end up micromanaging them. Create a healthy collaborative work environment to keep the balance with enough room for empathy. Convey your expectations, express an optimistic and trusting arrangement for healthy two-way interactions. An excellent example is how our team has a daily scrum meeting offering us a platform.
#2. Show You Care: Check-in Frequently
Remote employees are assumed to be self-motivated but are also bombarded with tons of information and instructions on the same day. A brilliant way to overcome this is to keep things simple and clear to understand without any overlapping or contradictory tasks to perform. Surely you know the modern day’s challenges of constant distraction, workplace at home, parenting, and even exhaustion felt due to social isolation.
Leaders like yourself should step up and show they care for newbies showing understanding. Employees backed up by good leaders and supported or expressed care are highly motivated to handle the workload. They even go that extra mile. Please don’t overdo it by exhausting back-to-back calls, emails, overlapping messages- be more flexible.
#3. Engage and Offer Solutions
Often at times, you can detect employees who are struggling with remote work by noticing a change in their performance. Boom! Suddenly they become under-performers. Smart managers like you understand this situation and are foresighted. Please don’t lose your cool or be vague. Offer precise feedback, support in understanding challenges, and get into one-on-ones to offer problem-solving.
For that, start by asking a few questions, which will help you understand the root cause. How has your daily work routine changed since you started working remotely? Do you have a dedicated workspace to focus on and get your task done? What kind of challenges are you facing? Brainstorm some ideas on resolving them together. Even formulate reasonable goals or deadlines and offer a little flexibility.
Encourage your employee to keep communicating; communication should always be a two-way street. If they are struggling with remote work, offer a helping hand and urge them to approach you or a colleague and resolve it instead of falling behind. Good managers and leaders with these small efforts set the tone for their team members.
#4. Offer Encouragement and Support
In the remote setup, we all have become entirely secluded; managers should be more available to check-in than usual, given the unfamiliar circumstances faced by those struggling with remote work. Ask yourself, how is this remote work approach working out for you so far? Above that, if you have a new team member, they may struggle more. Naturally, they need extra attention and guidance. Take daily quick calls for the initial phase to ease the process, introduce the new work culture, and establish that rapport with you.
Lend an ear, listen to them attentively, and offer suggestions where required. This is an excellent way to develop little comfort for the new employee. Say frequently a few phrases which typically help almost any employee like: “I know this is tough, we’ll work it out together,” “I am here for you,” or ” We’ve got this; don’t worry,” or even ” I hear what you are saying. Okay, let’s work on this gradually and move upwards.”
#5. Ensure Work/Life Balance
Balance is not better time management. Honestly, it’s better boundary management. Balance means making the right choices according to your priorities. We all are aware of the psychological fatigue, stress, and anxiety it brings when this goes off balance. Handling work sneaking into your boundaries is something a new employee might not be cut out for all together.
Generally, employees are tasked to complete and honor their deadlines with responsibility during the working hours. Simultaneously, they also focus equally on enjoying their time with family, friends, social life, or even running errands. The good news for those struggling with remote work is that working away from the office doesn’t necessarily mean you are forced to work for long hours.
With an open communication approach, you can balance having a productive employee and their well-being. Respect boundaries and privacy such as video calls these days; many might be uncomfortable or embarrassed. Show empathy and don’t insist too firmly. After all, they are your teammate.
To help those struggling with remote work, devise a straightforward process and daily operation plan for your team. Evaluate and measure productivity and performance with a more refined and streamlined process. Approach your employees with a humane and empathic approach. We all struggle at work sometimes, especially new employees. Hopefully, this article has offered some practical and helpful tips. Please don’t wait, apply them right away.
About the Author: Hardik Shah works as a Tech Consultant at Simform – a dedicated team of custom software development company in Dallas. He leads large scale mobility programs that cover platforms, solutions, governance, standardization, and best practices. Connect with him to discuss the best practices of software methodologies @hsshah_.