While being a remote worker is fast becoming the norm and the preferred way to work from anywhere in the world, it still comes with its significant share of problems. Luckily, there are solutions. From tracking employee performance to improving communication, here we explore some of the most significant challenges remote workers face on a regular basis, and most notably – how to solve them.
Security is one of the critical predicaments for organizations that have employees working remotely. Some of the security risks involved in such situations include:
- Hacking risks on mobile gadgets
- Wi-Fi security risks especially when using public networks like those in malls and cafes
- Increased risk of access to corporate data, like allowing unauthorized individuals to access company devices.
- Installing malicious software and apps from untrustworthy sources
- Interfering with critical device settings.
- Loss of company gadgets/mobile devices.
How to overcome security risks
- Developing and implementing clear remote work policies relating to company-owned devices
- Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect all your web traffic
- Using Mobile Device Management (MDM) for Windows, Android, and iOS devices that help organizations to check, audit, and secure corporate data, applications, and devices.
- Implementing data encryption on all devices
- Keeping remote workers up to date with the security measures/guidelines and making sure that they are strictly followed
Communication is vital for a productive team, and remote employees face problems when it comes to coordinating with in-house employees as well as other remote employees, particularly those based in different time zones.
Overcoming communication problems
- Take advantage of technology to contact your remote workers regularly. GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Skype, Slack, etc. are useful tools that can be used for communication.
- Embrace an MDM solution which guarantees an end-to-end communication channel for information sharing and almost-real-time content sharing options.
- Opt for overlapping time slots which favor remote workers in the case of time-zone differences.
- Make sure that there are alternative methods to communicate in the event of network issues
- Opt for a mobile device management technology which provides options to utilize VoIP calls and two-way chat with IT personnel and fellow employees
Employees and organizations find it difficult to assess the amount of work a remote employee has completed in a certain period. The real challenge is twofold: making sure that the work is completed, and remote workers are using their time effectively and efficiently.
Overcoming productivity tracking issues
- Lay down clear expectations and employee goals on a yearly, monthly, weekly, or even on a daily basis.
- Use an online time tracker and billing software when dealing with remote employees. If an employer is using an application with time tracking and billing abilities, hard data will exist to confirm how many hours or days an employee spent on a particular With this information, the employee will be contented knowing that they were billed or compensated fairly, and most importantly, the employer will save money because hours were recorded correctly.
- Give flexibility to remote workers to update their progress and self-appraisal of their achievements.
- Share regular feedbacks about your remote workers’ performance
Remote employees may experience distractions, especially if they are working from home. Distractions like noisy neighbors, the sound of the doorbell, children playing, or other aspects like paying attention to things like grocery pick up, browsing the internet, laundry, bill payments, can prove to be a major concern as they interrupt the smoothness of the workflow.
Overcoming distractions and managing time effectively
Remote workers can try to avoid distractions and manage their time by:
- Creating to-do list to prioritize tasks
- Using an online time tracker, to manage working hours
- Setting aside work areas like a separate room (workspace) or going tocafes or coffee shops which supports a quiet work environment
Lack of community
A typical employee regularly interacts with his/her colleagues. This helps develop a sense of trust, bonding, and a social circle among co-workers, which is good for mental development. A remote worker may enjoy the feeling of privacy but may miss out on interaction opportunities with their workmates.
Overcoming isolation and building your community
- Encourage your remote workers to use modern communication platforms to communicate and share thoughts with their colleagues.
- Plan regular virtual meetings to discuss issues
- Once in a while, plan some team-building activities even for the remote workers.
Successfully managing remote workers can offer your organization immense benefits, but meeting the related challenges takes practice, patience, and time. Don’t expect every strategy to work immediately. Instead, be keen on identifying current and potential upcoming issues you and your remote employees face, and then be open to creating problem-solving solutions that suit your company, managerial style, and workers.