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Remote working sounds exciting with no commutes and no managers watching over your shoulder. But that’s just at the start.
When you begin working from home, you will soon realize the many challenges in a remote working environment. Businesses must deal with these challenges to stay competitive.
When you are working in an office, it is easier to leave everything behind after office hours. But if you are working from home, you will be mixing your office work with your personal life.
Having a home and an office all on one roof can be a problem. It’s hard to switch between the two, causing remote workers to lose the focus necessary to finish the jobs on time.
We’ll discuss the 4 major challenges most small and midsize businesses face as they switch to a remote environment and how to cope with these issues.
Common Issues in Remote Working Environment
When you focus on a task, and suddenly the doorbell rings or your pet is barking for food, you will easily give in to the multiple distractions at home.
You can focus more on your job without pets, no package deliveries, and no kids asking for a quick playtime in the office,
These short breaks will soon accumulate into hours. Thus, extending your working time at home beyond the regular office hours.
While the breaks can help avoid burnout, there is also stress in working through the night coping with the deliverables.
To minimize or avoid distractions, it is best to set-up an office area with less disturbance. If you have extra room in the house, turn it into an office where you can have complete privacy.
2. Hardware and Software Issues
Having a laptop doesn’t warrant that you bring home all the tasks you usually do in the office. Your computer should meet the minimum specifications to run the necessary software.
Unless the company provides for the laptop, you may have to upgrade your computer based on its minimum requirements—the same with the software the company is using.
While most laptops can run Microsoft Office Suites and other basic office applications, advanced software like Salesforce, Photoshop, and heavy apps require higher specifications.
Similarly, technical issues can sometimes happen, and help may be delayed if you work from home. In the office, you have a technical guy always around for a quick fix.
Hardware and software issues are common among computers with low specifications. You can minimize the technical problems if you have a powerful laptop capable of various office tasks.
Suggested Laptop Specs
You will find below some tips on the best laptops for home and office use. You should do well if you follow the suggestions for the minimum specifications.
- 8th Generation CPU or later than Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 - a 10-generation Intel Core i7 is nice to have but isn't necessary. You are good with an 8th-gen Intel Core i5.
- 8GB RAM or higher - if your tasks are heavy on running productivity applications, don’t go lower than 8GB RAM. But a 16GB would be nicer to have.
- At least 256 SSD Storage - Hard Disk Drive (HDD) drive is getting obsolete. The new trend is the Solid State Drive (SDD) with faster processing. But they are also expensive.
- High-resolution Webcam - a 720p resolution is already sufficient to give a sharp image of your profile in Zoom and Skype. 1080p is the best. But they also create larger files.
- 14-inch Display - Your spreadsheets will look cramped on a 13-inch screen. A 14-inch or 15-inch screen size will give you the best view of your worksheets at 1920x1080 pixels.
A conference room provides the best venue for office workers to meet and interact. But what excites most employees are the cold drinks and free snacks provided by the managers.
In remote settings, the meetings will still happen. But there will be no more free coffees or lunch treats from the bosses.
Conference room meetings have now shifted to video conferencing and Zoom meetings. You’ll have to set up everything for these online meetups.
If you don't have a private room, set-up a professional background for your video conferencing. Untidy rooms with hanging clothes will not look nice in the background of your video profile.
3. Lack of Interaction among Co-workers
Interaction is one of the biggest challenges in a remote team. There are unresponsive team members that can be a headache for team leaders and managers.
It is easier to go to a coworker’s desk in an office if you need an immediate reply. But it is hard to get an instant response on urgent matters from unresponsive workers in a remote setting.
Inconsistent interaction among coworkers will soon take a toll on teamwork. In the office, bonding is stronger as a result of daily meetups among officemates.
Interaction problems will always be there. While some workers are active, there are also silent workers in the team.
Having the phone number of each member of the team should help solve unresponsiveness. If you do not see them in the chat room or a Zoom meeting, call them through their mobiles.
Likewise, it is still best to have team building activities to promote teamwork. You will have to be content with online team buildings, which is better than having none at all.
There are online team building activitiesyou can do to create excitement and make the event enjoyable. You can even give prizes like online shopping vouchers to add fun to the games.
Quick Survey on Preferred Work Environment
Arguments among office workers are common in the office as a result of miscommunications. How much more in a remote setting.
Lack of activities online can sometimes be confused with a lack of work by the managers. In effect, they tend to add more tasks to ensure remote workers are working all the time.
However, there is a team collaboration software to resolve the issue.
Best Team Collaboration Apps
Asana is a platform that lets you track the activities of remote employees. As a team leader, you can create a to-do list, set reminders, and monitor their works' progress.
Microsoft Teams allows you to easily integrate various Microsoft Office Suites tools like Excel, Word, and Powerpoint.
Slack is a great tool that lets you send files and direct messages to each member. It supports video calling with an app version so you can collaborate with your team while on the go.
In a Nutshell
There may be plenty of challenges surrounding the remote environment, but there are also solutions to each challenge.
For businesses to thrive in these trying times, your creativity will be tested as you adapt to the new normal in business transactions.
You can keep the productivity of the employees working at home at par with their performance in the office, and maintain their morale high as they properly balance work with personal life.