The many benefits of a remote workforce might seem highly appealing, but you should never forget that there are also some major difficulties with telecommuting. When you weigh up the options it is clear that each of the benefits, such as lower overheads and increased productivity, comes with a ‘but’. Encouraging work from home can lower your costs, but only if you can be sure of everyone’s productivity and efficiency. A lack of self-discipline and bad personal management can equally cause these to diminish.
Thus it is that telecommuting has great potential for your business, but you can realize that potential only when you are both aware of problems associated with working remotely and take steps to prevent them. What’s more, it is essential that you do this before actually recruiting a remote workforce. If you do not, you will be distracted by these issues and lose valuable time during which revenue will take a hit.
3 Types of Problems with Telecommuting You Need to Resolve in Advance
When one of your employees at the office has problems with their computer or other items of technology they can immediately get help from your technical support staff. But what happens when it’s a telecommuter who suffers these problems?
The help you can provide remotely is rather limited, and sometimes the issue is caused by a third party like the employee’s Internet provider. What will you do then if the project you are working on is time-sensitive and the employee is essential to it?
Another area of potential difficulty to consider is the standard that your employees’ equipment is required to meet. Is the processing power required for the job an important consideration for your workers? Do you have clearly defined requirements for your remote employees? Are you ready to provide assistance in this regard?
Yet another source of possible problems is the platform through which you manage your remote workforce. In order for this structure to function, you need to use a variety of solutions that will allow your team to communicate and work together on a single project. Will you develop an integrated solution (consider the costs versus benefits of having a platform that meets your business’ needs perfectly) or will you rely upon existing, disparate tools? Can those be integrated into your CRM software? Are your remote employees able to use these solutions as well?
Managing a remote team is not merely a logistical challenge in the sense of keeping everybody connected effectively. It is also a matter of finding managers capable of doing this kind of job. Time zones and cultural differences all need to be taken into account in order to create a multinational team which can work together effectively.
Finding effective managers is one of the main problems with telecommuting, but it also raises another concern. Jonah Walters, a manager at Bid4Papers, says: “One of the biggest challenges of managing international remote teams is the time difference. When the people in your team work in different time zones, as a coordinator you have to be available to them 24/7, which brings your own productivity and efficiency down.”
This brings to our attention another problem, that of employee burnout due to being constantly connected. Top corporations like Volkswagen have long since recognized this issue, however it remains a major concern in the modern world, especially as telecommuting becomes more mainstream.
Psychological and social challenges
Forbes notes that feelings of loneliness and isolation are quite common amongst remote workers. So is the reduction in productivity due to distractions and lack of self-organization.
Do you have an onboarding program for remote employees that includes helping them to develop the schedule and skills necessary to work from home effectively? Do you have a socialization program which will bring all your employees, telecommuters included, together regularly? Can you ensure that your employees feel part of the team and know said team well enough to establish friendships?
All these things are essential not only to boost the happiness level and productivity of your employees but also to overcome the challenges of building a strong company culture in a remote workforce.
Another big problem with telecommuting arising from the fact that your workforce literally stays ‘out of sight’ is the lack of recognition that remote employees get. They have a lesser chance of achieving promotion and often don’t have any professional or career growth opportunities. All this contributes to poorer performance and eventually to disillusionment with the employer.
Are You Ready to Solve the Problems with Telecommuting Before They Become Problems?
If you wish to embrace the benefits of having a remote workforce you definitely should go for it because it can give a your business a real competitive advantage. However, to succeed with this strategy all these questions and potential difficulties need to be addressed and solutions must be in place before recruiting your first remote worker.