The struggles of managing remote teams

A manager congratulates her team members for achieving performance KPIs by using hellofriday HR software.

The rise of remote work all over the world has remarkably benefited various industries- there is no doubt about that. Many employers report an increase in employee productivity and a boost in their company’s overall profitability, after shifting to remote work. On the flipside, remote work comes with its share of very serious challenges. But the good news is that none of these challenges are insurmountable and can be resolved if dealt with correctly.

As per the SHRM Covid 19 research report, 7 out 10 employers struggled with adapting to remote work after the pandemic. More precisely, it was managing those remote teams that seemed to be the biggest problem for those employers. So what are those challenges? Let’s dig into them:

Lack of effective communication

Let’s start with the very basic and a very obvious challenge, i.e. maintaining a steady flow of communication within members of a remote team. Although there are numerous channels of communication available, this still seems to be an issue that persists amongst remote teams. In a 2021 Project Management Report by Hubstaff, it was stated as the biggest challenge in managing remote teams. This issue may arise due to technical errors, availability of employees or the limitations within the communication channel being used. The best solution to overcome these issues is to have an internal communication channel that brings all the members of a team in a single virtual space where they can easily connect with each other.

Tracking employee performance/movement

Because there is no face to face supervision it’s obviously hard for employers to track the performance of their employees. As they cannot see what’s going on, they don’t really know what their employees are up to. This can also be a subjective issue as some managers are more into micromanaging their employees as opposed to some who are only concerned with meeting the targets. Unfortunately, micromanagement and remote work don’t go well together. Instead of focusing on what your employees are doing at every moment of their on-duty hours, you can keep a check on their performance by setting realistic and actionable KPI targets. This would make your life easy as well as that of your employees.

Managing absences, attendance and leaves

In the similar report by SHRM, it was stated that 1/3 employers face trouble in managing the leaves and attendance of the employees. It could be because of many reasons, but predominantly this can be credited to the fact that remote work has a greater global outreach. Meaning that many employees could be from different parts of the world, with different time zones and government leaves. Let’s say you have an employee who logs in 10 minutes late every day or has irregular attendance patterns which is hard for you to track because you have a 9 hour time difference?  AnHR platform built for today’s world of work can help you with that.

Social isolation and employee detachment:

One of the biggest problems with remote work is that it can be extremely lonely and may cause social isolation amongst the employees. This in turn, can demotivate them and greatly impact their productivity and performance. As a manager, it is imperative that you make sure that your employees don’t feel isolated or disconnected. That is why it is very important to have regular collaborative meetings and frequent virtual hangouts with your team members. It is also important to have HR software and channels where employees can connect with each other and where you can create a virtual collaborative space.

Maintaining a positive work culture

While it is important to encourage social interaction and collaboration within your team members, it is equally important to ensure that the interaction is not toxic or leading to an unhealthy workspace. In the 2018 Culture Wizard’s Virtual> Teams survey, it was revealed that 86% of the virtual teams struggle with managing conflicts and building relationships. Moreover, in a recent study by Capterra UK, it was found that many companies in the UK reported an increase in workplace toxicity after going remote. It was also found that a percentage of workers could not report any form of harassment and personal issues to their employers. A toxic work culture has a very negative impact on an overall performance of a company- which is a fact we are all aware of. It is recommended to us HR systems that give employees a voice and allow them to raise concerns comfortably with the confidence that they will be heard and acted upon.

Remote work has its issues and challenges, but with the support of the right tools they are easy to conquer and turned into productive strengths for the business.