Richard Branson said something way back in 2013 that has come true today. He said, “One day, offices will be a thing of the past” (TechCrunch). Today, this prediction is slowly coming to life. Remote working has been the trend since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. It has its own share of fair advantages. Brands are cutting costs with remote working slowly becoming the norm. After all, within the next four years, it is predicted that we will be working from home for at least 5 out of the 7 days in a week. The advantages are plenty and the opportunities limitless, but only if you are well equipped to handle a remote working team.
With its advantages, Work From Home brings its own challenges too. You’re aren’t the only one facing these challenges, and with 2021 comes its own set of challenges. To ensure that you are well equipped with the solutions, here are top 5 virtual team challenges and how to tackle them.
Working remotely is more often than not about working alone. Taking into consideration the current situation, the absolute lack of social interaction, employees are bound to get lonely. Along with that comes demotivation. This means that employees are not able to work effectively and give their best. According to a report by Buffer, 20% of the workforce that is working from home, suffer from loneliness and struggle with working alone. As most of these workers are working in remote settings 90% of the time, it is becoming increasingly important to address this issue.
Here are some ways to tackle this: “Buddy calls” are a popular concept in work from home settings. Just hitting each other up to talk about non-work related topics, for as low as 10-15 minutes a day can help freshen up one’s mood and help them work better by creating an environment of trust. Take small breaks in between your work. Do small chores such as taking out the trash or watering your desk plant. Little 5 minute breaks to look outside once in a while helps keep a positive outlook and take your mind off things, if even for a moment.
It is easy to get distracted in office spaces, with a flurry of activity such as chatty coworkers or some random discussion always taking up a big chunk of your time. It is, however, easier to get distracted in remote work settings when working from home. Background noises such as kids screaming, someone interrupting your video conference or your pet knocking over your laptop, it gets difficult at times. According to Sococo, 29% of telecommuting workers had a hard time maintaining a healthy work life balance.
Here are some ways to prevent these: Follow the same routine that you followed in your office setting. Keep a track of your to do’s and your calendar events. With apps like Butter, planning your day or week becomes easier than before. Training employees is also a good way of helping them focus. Cornerstone’s Chief Talent Officer Kimberly Cassidy suggested that HR should provide the employees with more training and materials that help them focus.Research has shown that out of 10 people, 7 can get highly trained in blocking out distractions and working effectively.
Less video conferencing
The onset of the pandemic brought about the emergence of video conferencing platforms like Zoom. However, the past year has been so packed with zoom meetings, that there is now an actual term called, “Zoom fatigue”. In fact, the CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan himself stated that he has Zoom fatigue. It is a common mistake made by employers to use conference calls or meetings for every minor thing.
Here are some ways to tackle this: Use collaboration tools whenever possible. Relying on zoom alone is not the best decision, there are plenty of collaboration tools in the market, check them out here. The most popular remedy is to keep days where there are no meetings. An entire day where meetings are not allowed gives the employee time to think and rest.
In the online setting, there are many factors that hinder work performance. One of these is the communication barrier. McKinsey said that 97% of employees believe lack of communication as the reason that teams can fail.Since there is scarcely any communication, employees fail to build trust and less trust means that the people are less understanding of each other due to cultural differences, which means that people cannot participate fully and freely in the work.
Here are some ways to tackle this: Collaboration tools such as Butter help bridge this gap between team collaboration and communication. Furthermore, team building exercises in which the team gets to know each other and understand each other helps immensely in creating an environment of sharing and trust, which reflects in their work, and also in employee retention. Gusto says that organisations with effective communication are 4.5 times more probable to retain their top employees.
This was never an issue for in-office work. In a structured workplace, there is a singular network that is shared by everyone, security is the same for everyone and centralized due to the ease of monitoring. However, this is not possible in remote work settings. Employees are using home networks that aren’t encrypted and thus valuable information leaks can take place. You can get phished easily without the right tools.
Here are some ways to tackle this: Make sure to use Virtual Private Networks or VPNs when using an open public network such as the ones in a library or a cafe. Provide employees with financial assistance to opt for SaaS tool plans with Single Sign On (SSO) features along with good encryption. These small steps will help you ensure better security for your workforce in the future.
In conclusion, managing virtual teams is a herculean task, but it can be made easier through the above steps. Small steps often have the most impact on your team, try to implement these more and see the results for yourself.