Challenges With Remote and Hybrid Work Arrangements

October 4, 2021

COVID-19 disrupted corporate America in many ways, but one of the most notable was the move to remote working. For the employee, working from home has many appealing benefits. It’s flexible and allows people to work from anywhere, which might mean the soccer field or the restaurant patio.

But there are some downsides too. As you consider how to embrace remote work at your business—which is something demanded by many workers today—it’s important to keep in mind some of the biggest challenges of this type of work arrangement:

Lack of face-to-face supervision – This is an obvious issue for many companies. If your business operates best when everyone is physically together, you’ll need to find new ways to enable managers to stay in contact with their teams. Going remote does seem to require more meetings, which can lead to “Zoom fatigue” and mental exhaustion. But think of this as a potential opportunity for growth as well—less micromanagement and more employee empowerment. It is possible to find that balance, but it won’t come without some pain.

Lack of access to information – As your business embraces new technologies that make remote collaboration easier, this problem can be mitigated, but if you’ve traditionally operated with employees in an office, this might take some adapting on your part. It’s harder for people to have access to everything they need, and many employees’ home office setups are not ideal for true productivity.

Social isolation – Not everyone is built to work from home and do it well, let alone enjoy it!  Introverted employees might appreciate the quiet time and opportunity to recharge their social batteries in between remote meetings (or remote days if you have a hybrid arrangement), but those who thrive working with and around others might not. Loneliness and the inability to easily collaborate and communicate with others are common challenges raised by remote workers. And if this is a new arrangement in your organization, the problem might not have fully reared its head just yet.

Distractions at home – While flexibility is at the top of the list of remote working benefits, for many, it takes time to get used to this practice. At home, there are dogs to walk, laundry to be done, kids to drive to sports practices and music lessons, dinner to be made and more. Even for those who are good at sitting down and getting things done, if there are young children at home, for example, the arrangement might not be as perfect. It becomes harder for some employees to separate work and life, and it can actually lead to longer hours and more burnout without good parameters in place—both on the employee and the employer side.

Already existing silos getting worse – Some research suggests that in-person encounters are crucial for establishing trust and building successful teams. If building rapport and communication are key for your business (and isn’t that any business?), it’s essential that you find ways to make remote collaboration as effective as in-person collaboration.

This isn’t a complete list, and yes, there are many advantages to remote working too. But what can you do to ease this transition if you’re in the middle of it right now? A few ideas:

  • Schedule daily check-ins with your team, but keep them brief.
  • Take advantage of technology! There are many, many options and ways for your teams to stay productive and connected.
  • Establish rules of engagement. Set and manage expectations with new and existing employees.
  • Focus on outcomes, not activity. The temptation to micromanage staff in this new, unfamiliar work arrangement is high, but don’t. You’ll burn out your staff and make them feel like you don’t trust them.

The work-from-home revolution is new to many businesses in accounting and finance and other industries, and understandably, a little uncomfortable. You can find a way to make it work for you, but it is important to acknowledge the inherent challenges with this kind of work arrangement. Keep the lines of communication open with your employees and be open and honest. You don’t have to embrace remote working, but it could put you at a disadvantage hiring wise in an already challenging market. If the TGRP Solutions team can help you navigate this problem, contact us.

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