The world has gone through some major changes post-pandemic and one such change is in how businesses operate.
Pre-pandemic, some companies were working completely from the office while some were following a hybrid model.
Although the situation has improved with the advent of vaccines, some businesses have gone to permanently work remotely. Of course, that comes with a lot of challenges and problems but then again, everything takes time to function smoothly.
Is your company planning to go completely remote? If yes then you have landed at just the right place. This article will help you discover problems and solutions associated with working remotely.
But, first, let’s understand the meaning of working remotely.
What Does Working Remotely Mean?
Working remotely means carrying out business functions from outside the office. You don’t have to only work from home to be working remotely but instead have the liberty to work from anywhere in the world.
Remote work may seem fit for certain employees but for others, it certainly may not be an option. For instance, industry workers whose work involves manual labor have no option but to work on site.
Working remotely also known as telecommuting allows for flexibility and convenience but also has certain drawbacks. However, all problems come with solutions and this is what all this article is about.
Secrets to Transition Easily to Working Remotely
Although the spread of COVID-19 has slowed down thanks to the vaccines, the fear and risk still prevail. While some businesses have decided to follow a hybrid model, some have decided to go remote completely.
If you work in an organization that is looking to shift to remote work permanently, then you may want to consider the hurdles that come along and how to overcome them.
To be able to transition to working remotely with ease, we have prepared a list of problems that you might face and the solutions that can be implemented.
Problem # 1 Working Remotely Can Cause Anxiety in Employees
Transitioning to working remotely permanently may sound fun as the only commute you do is from your bedroom to the work desk. However, it does come with a bunch of extra household work. Employees who have children have to take care of extra responsibilities of feeding them or picking them up from school. Similarly, those who live with old or physically challenged parents also face similar challenges. Regardless of whether employees have dependents or not, the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental well-being. Employees may feel anxious about their health or that of their loved ones, future, or financial concerns.
Moreover, employees may also face health challenges. Since their work now requires them to be stationary, they might face backaches or neck strains which may hamper their performance.
So what is it that you can do to help them?
Solution # 1 Show Empathy to Your Employees
Adjusting to working remotely takes time and this is where employers have a role to play. Make sure to check in more frequently with them. Allow them some leeway while they deal with household distractions and set up a workstation for them.
Employers should also understand if employees are unavailable due to certain household responsibilities. Employers should set up flexible work schedules so that employees can work with peace without feeling overwhelmed at any point.
Also, they must help employees in setting up their workplace by giving them a one-time grant for getting a stable internet connection and other work-from-home necessities such as a comfortable chair, backrest, or a working desk.
Problem # 2 Remote Work May Lead to Miscommunication
Working remotely means employees have no physical contact with each other. Most of the communication takes place on video conferencing platforms or via communication apps like Slack and MS Teams. Although there is absolutely no harm in communicating via messages, there is a high probability of miscommunication.
Needless to say, miscommunication may hamper performance and cause impediments to the workflow. Of course, no one would want that. So what do you do?
Solution # 2 Communicate Often
The solution is simple; communicate as often as possible. The idea is not to have long video calls every day but a daily five to a ten-minute session on important points.
Also, working remotely may lead to employees missing out on important updates or virtual events happening in the company. Hence, the best way may be to encourage your employees to join workplaces like Slack or Microsoft Teams where communication is much more smooth and seamless. Within each workplace, employees should et up their own channels for fun, games, interactions, or collaborations.
Problem # 3 Employees May Feel Disconnected
Working from the office meant a lot of fun and water cooler conversations. It also meant Friday pizza parties to start the weekend right. However, with the pandemic hitting hard, things have changed dramatically. Working from home means missing out on all the fun chit-chat sessions. Employees may feel disconnected since they are mostly glued to their screens and struggling to deal with the newfound work-life integration.
As a consequence, employees may lose the motivation to perform their best. So what is it that you can do for them?
Solution # 3 Create Fun Interactions
All work and no play may lead to employee disengagement. Therefore, it is important to arrange virtual fun sessions for employees to recharge themselves. The sessions can vary from virtual coffee breaks to happy hours, cultural team meetings to arranging online games such as escape rooms. Although social distancing is still in order, you can still use some creative ways to make remote work fun and relaxing for employees.
Problem # 4 Working Remotely May Lead to Loneliness
While working remotely may cause disconnection among employees, it is also known to cause loneliness. Employees tend to work in silos at home devoid of any physical interaction or watercooler chats. This may lead to employees feeling isolated, often feeling overwhelmed. The pandemic caused nothing but stress and anxiety and you wouldn’t want your employees to be unhappy about their current work situation. So, here is the solution.
Solution # 4 Encourage Teamwork
Delegate tasks in teams so that employees stay in the habit of working and adjusting with different team members. Moreover, employees may feel less socially isolated as they have been for more than a year.
Problem # 5 Working Remotely May Cause Confusion
Transitioning to working from home may get chaotic and overwhelming in the beginning. Employees may feel confused about what guidelines to follow, how to be productive, and what rules to follow. Although employers are encouraged to empathize with their employees, they need to ensure that employees don’t get laid back when approaching work.
Solution # 5 Develop a Remote Work Policy
Having a remote work policy in place can minimize confusion and familiarise employees with work from home guidelines. A remote work policy covers the following topics:
- Defines how employees are to work remotely
- How to track working hours
- Protocols to follow when communicating
- How to track deliverables
- Which tools and software to use for meetings, project planning, project management, and collaboration
Once the policy is in place, employers should review and update it annually.
Problem # 6 Remote Work May Cause Indiscipline Among Employees
When working remotely, employees may not feel the urge to dress up and might prefer to work in their pajamas. Although this isn’t a big issue provided that all tasks are performed, it does cause lethargy.
Similarly, work from home calls for a bunch of video conferences. But do employees really know how to present themselves in a video call meeting? What is it that needs to be in place?
Solution # 6 Clarify Work From Home Etiquettes
Although several businesses allow their workers to work according to their own clocks, they need to ensure that employees follow work from home etiquette. For instance, employers should put in a work from home guidelines in place that guide employees on the following:
- How to dress up when attending video call meetings
- How and when to speak in a video meeting
- The importance of putting the mic on mute when not speaking
- Putting the camera on when attending a video call
- Avoid distractions when on a call
- How and when to clock in and out
- Be vigilant enough to respond back to missed messages and calls
Problem # 7 Employers Face Tax Challenges
Working remotely not only challenges employees but employers too. Ever since the pandemic has begun, employers face tax compliance challenges. Employees working remotely either work from outside their home state or country and do not inform their employers about it. As a result, employers fail to withhold their payroll taxes leading to hefty penalties. So what can be done to avoid this problem?
Solution # 7 Encourage Employees to Inform About Their Work Location
Thanks to the pandemic, every remote employee is now a mobile employee. Although remote employees have the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world, they should be responsible enough to inform their HR about their work locations.
Since income tax is charged based on an employee’s location, HR needs to know the exact location of where employees work from. If an employee lives in state A but is currently working from state B, then it will have to pay income taxes to the latter. The employee benefits if state B has lower income taxes.
Similarly, if an employee works in /NewYork but is working from Texas that doesn’t withhold income tax then employees do not have to pay any taxes. Interesting isn’t it?
However, in another case, if an employee lives in Newyork but is physically located in Virginia, you will have to pay taxes to both the states given the ‘convenience rule’.
Businesses should set this as a clause in the work from home policy and ensure that all employees adhere to it religiously. This is critical for businesses or else they will have to face hefty penalties during tax audits.
Best States for Remote Work
If you are someone who is browsing through options to choose the best state to set up your remote office in, you may want to have a look at the following list. The factors that serve as metrics are the availability of electricity, broadband connectivity, health care, quality of the environment, tax burden, cost of living, and the housing market.
- North Dakota
Companies Who Have Successfully Transitioned to Working Remotely Permanently
The pandemic imposed drastic changes around the world. If you’re wondering if you’re the only business that intends to leap into permanent remote work, you are mistaken. Companies around the globe big and small have permanently shifted to remote work.
The reason is that despite the many challenges remote work brings, it is known to increase productivity, minimize distractions such as an everyday commute, sustainable environment, and higher retention rate.
Some of the companies that have permanently adopted remote work systems are:
Others such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Siemens are following a hybrid model where a sizable proportion of the workforce will continue to work from home.
Is Remote Work Here to Stay?
With the new COVID variants hitting different parts of the world every now and then, it is safe to say that remote work is here to stay.
Companies have modified their workspaces following the work model they follow. Moreover, they are also investing their time and resources into making remote work as comfortable as possible for employees.
Remote work has exhibited many benefits. People are now accustomed to staying indoors with minimum social interactions and this has somehow prepared them to work remotely without any major hurdles.