It’s been nearly a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Work from home has become a part of daily life, but that doesn’t make it easy. In this post, we’ll explore common hurdles of working from home and how to set your team up for effective remote work.
4 Common Challenges of Remote Work during COVID
There are a variety of hindrances to effective remote work. Discovering problems is the first step to getting them fixed.
The struggle can be different for each of your employees, so it may be in your best interest to reach out to your team members individually. Ask them what is most challenging about working from home – perhaps via a survey or form if your business has a lot of employees.
Here are some of the most common issues that remote workers come across.
1. Lack of Motivation
55% of professionals are looking for meaning in their work, and find that meaning in remote work can prove to be more difficult because of isolation from co-workers, not being able to receive any feedback, etc. This can cause a person to feel drained by their work – only outputting, never getting a response.
Another motivation-killer is the comfort of having a bed right next to your workspace. Many remote workers operate from a desk in their bedroom, leading to a significant lack of separation between work and rest. There’s no space for the brain to go into work-mode or leisure-mode, since everything happens in one small place.
2. Social Isolation
People get motivation from one another and cutting interactions down to a minimum is going to decrease motivation levels for most of your employees.
Reduced interaction may be a bigger problem for the more outgoing members of your team at first, but after a couple of weeks, social isolation will get to anyone. Sure, there may be the occasional company video conference to get everyone back on task – but that only helps a little.
Any work that requires employees to collaborate worsens the effects of social isolation. If a project that would typically involve hourly check-ins with your co-workers ends up divided into multiple solo projects, productivity is bound to drop.
3. Lack of Resources
Another issue that arises amidst remote work is a lack of resources. When your employees are in the office, they have access to everything they need. A desk phone, fellow employees, and any other resource is within arm’s reach, so to speak.
At home, this is not typically the case. Perhaps your business doesn’t have the resources to set each employee up with their own remote office, or the employee simply doesn’t have the space in their home. In any case, a lack of resources can bottleneck your team’s productivity – regardless of motivation or intentions.
4. Inconsistent Work Environment
The biggest issue that remote workers face is the inconsistent work environment – the constant switch between remote and in-person work because of ever-shifting health restrictions. As soon as your employees readjust to remote work, they’re thrust back into the office, and after a few weeks, it changes again.
Even with a smooth adjustment to remote work, being trapped in a state of constant flux between work locations is not conducive to team productivity. Developing a flexible system that allows for frequent seamless transition is the way to go.
Employ Versatile Tools for Effective Remote Work
Making a functional work-from-home system requires preparation. If you’re able to set up tools to manage your remote employees, you have a sure shot at success.
Here are some of the most effective and easy-to-use technologies you can employ for your remote team.
1. Mobile Integration
Mobile integration is the tool that can save you the most in both time and resources.
If your team is working from home, it may not be plausible for every single employee to have a desk phone. Rather than wasting resources, why not eliminate that need entirely?
Mobile integration gives full office phone functionality to any personal cell phone. Your team can now make and receive company calls from anywhere in the house, or even on the go!
If you’re worried about privacy, the office number and personal cell number remain separate – meaning office calls are displayed with the office phone number, and employees can keep their personal info private.
Any remote team would make excellent use of this tool. It allows for unparalleled flexibility among your remote team with zero added hardware expense.
If your remote teams are struggling to manage a large influx of calls, perhaps it’s time to recruit some help.
Another valuable tool for remote teams, Auto-Attendant acts as a virtual receptionist. It receives incoming calls, plays a custom message, and directs callers to their desired extension. This removes the need for a human employee to answer every call, and only the extensions themselves need a person behind them.
Cut employment costs and boost efficiency with the use of one simple tool!
3. Video Conferencing
Video conferencing has become a staple of social interaction ever since the pandemic started, and businesses have been using them in place of meetings.
Not all video conferencing programs are created equal. However, you may miss out on some incredibly useful features by sticking to one without exploring other options.
For example, one priceless feature for remote teams is the option to open standing breakout rooms. When you’re having an all-hands-on-deck meeting, split up part way through to discuss a project, for example. Rather than opening a brand new meeting for the smaller group, breakout rooms allow you to make a sub-meeting that can be re-added to the main meeting once the discussion is over.
And the best part – the room stays open forever until you delete it, meaning anyone can hop into the meeting at any time for assistance or advice. And there’s no need to email people with a new link for every meeting.
This can be a great help in reducing the isolation that remote workers feel. Now, whenever they’re working on a project, they’re able to get in touch with their group with the click of a button.
4. Call Queues/Ring Order
It’s a lot easier to manage a high volume of calls when your team is in the office and able to communicate verbally. Remotely, it’s not as simple, but call queues and ring order solve this problem.
Call queues are what you’d expect. Your cloud phone system puts incoming calls into a queue so your team can answer calls in the order the system received them. This makes it easy for your team to manage a high call volume.
Ring order will make a big difference for remote workers. Once set up, incoming calls will ring all available phones in a circuit – first phone #1, then phone #2, and so on. This makes it easy for available employees to take calls and leaves the busy ones free of worry. More calls are answered and fewer callers have to wait on hold.
Many customers prefer receiving a text message over a phone call. The ability to send SMS and MMS messages to customers opens up several opportunities:
- Advertising via MMS (coupons, posters, etc.)
- Send brief updates without clogging the phone lines
- Send special offers via link
- Updates on remote delivery
- Simplified curbside pickup
The possibilities are endless, and every business will use this tool differently. Experiment with it and see what you can achieve!
Business Success With Effective Remote Work
Doing business has changed forever. Remote work will be a permanent way of life for many, despite its challenges.
You can equip your team for effective remote work to overcome lack of motivation, social isolation, and fluctuations in the work environment.
The tools in this post are all available with a SelectCom cloud phone system. Contact a SelectCom associate to set up your team for successful remote work.