That’s why we’ve put together this blog post to help you understand some of the issues that you may face with a remote team. Navigating challenges for collaboration tech with hybrid remote and in-office teams By Jocelyn Lomer 14 January 2021 Hybrid working presents … I’m not particularly good at self-discipline but I am good at responding to gentle encouragement and Serene prompts me to set a single goal for the day before I get started. A workspace that helps you focus is the best way to block out distractions – something minimal, tidy and practical. Ideally, this should be a separate room dedicated to work and nothing else. Finally, I mentioned an app called Daywise earlier and now is the time to explain about it in a little more detail. These are automatically blocked during wor sessions and Serene will also silence your phone to stop those pesky notifications coming through. First, we’re starting with the most common remote work challenges for teams. However, remote teams are highly limited and even interacting with the same document poses challenges. In terms of maximising productivity, the first thing you want to know is how long tasks are taking. Our design team uses InVision to create and mockups, provide feedback and test interactive demos without any specialist design software. Therefore, flexibility in work hours will make your team more resourceful for your company. (On the other hand, the work ethic I’ve seen from professionals in Japan and Korea is something to behold.). Now we’re getting into some of the more complex problems of managing remote teams. As a result, some were caught by surprise. Whether you're thinking about working remotely or are currently a remote worker, you'll be happier and more productive when you meet these challenges head on. Some remote contractors plan to visit each other when they are nearby for other obligations. TrueNorth This allows team managers to decide whether that task is too important to interrupt. This gives you an idea of how niche collaborative tools can be. (It also helps if team members’ schedules are flexible, since some time zones don’t line up well with traditional working hours). They’re a workplace force to be reckoned with. Challenges of remote working. Try it for free for as long as you want and discover why our customers consistently give us 4.5 stars (out of 5!). Whether you want to create a professional company culture or a team that’s known for being fun and energetic, it will take more concentrated effort to develop in a remote team than in an office. Remote workers have been found to take fewer days off sick, stay motivated for longer, stay in their jobs for longer and prioritise their freedom over wage increases (saving on travel costs and other expenses helps in this regard, too). The problem is cafes also come with their own distractions but they were always the better alternative to hotel rooms. But in spite of these and many other challenges, all manners of stats have shown that remote work is here to stay. Future employees can also see the answers to commonly asked questions. You need something instant, responsive and flexible. The truth is, a lack of movement and exercise is the effect of some of the other challenges described on the list. The downside is, much of this talent can be working in different time zones, which can put your team out of sync. What I will say, though, is the key to overcoming this is finding out what motivates you. Differences in religious beliefs can be more obvious and it’s imperative that these are respected, including religious holidays that may require time off or participation (eg: Ramadan). What counts is doing everything you can, collectively, to maximise motivation for everyone. Common Challenges of Remote Work To start, managers need to understand factors that can make remote work especially demanding. Email simply doesn’t cut it for remote team communications. There’s free WiFi everywhere and you can spend hours in a cafe nursing a single drink without seeming like a freeloader (even if it is the case). Now, what’s really great about this feature is you can set timed work sessions of between 20-60 minutes. I think it’s the same feeling I get if I fail to complete a task within a time period I’ve set for myself. More on this app later. There are obvious trust issues that can arise among remote teams when you can physically see what people are doing. There are also plenty of tools designed to help businesses, teams and individuals maximise productivity. Real-time messaging applications and similar tools open the conversation between employees wherever they are. Think of Slack, a cloud based chatting program that helps teams collaborate on projects. In some cases, team members may have never met each other face-to-face and this has all kinds of subconscious effects on trust between them. But I’m also taking more breaks and getting more done throughout the day and I feel validated enough by this that I now instinctively ignore anything that might distract from the task at hand. Add this to the freedom remote working gives your team members (maybe they have to or prefer to work in the evenings, for example) and there are no guarantees everyone is going to be switched on when you need them. Making your availability hours known to everyone is important, too. If this isn’t naturally installed into you, there are ways to artificially inject some motivation – you just need to find out what works for you. Practically speaking, it’s no different from hiring someone who’s worked in an office their entire life and training them for remote working – it’s all about adapting work practices. Do you know how much work your remote team accomplishes and at what rate? First, there are tools you can use online to help make scheduling a call, video conference, or meeting with remote teams easier. You know, those quick Twitter checks that turn into an unscheduled break or email notifications that grab your attention and bring progress to a halt. For teams to work effectively together, they need to be able to communicate and collaborate freely. And why not? So, keep reading for the seven most common challenges even experienced managers of remote teams usually face, as well as the strategies you can use to overcome them. About the author: Levi Olmstead is Head of Community and SEO at G2, a B2B software and services review site with over 650,000 real-user reviews. It can also do the same for specific websites insides browser apps to reveal which pages are holding up progress. With more employees working remotely, the job of the manager is also evolving. Working remotely can seem like a dream come true for many employees sick of their morning commutes — but it can present its own set of challenges. Whether your employees are working from home because of a direct result of the growing pandemic or you’re warming up to the idea as the statistics prove remote work is on the rise, you need a strategy that works for everyone. Disclosure: We sometimes use affiliate links which means we may earn a commission if you buy something through our links. #9. Team members can see what everyone else is currently working on, what they got up to yesterday, their availability status and any “blockers” that are getting in the way of completing tasks. It’s hard to know if someone is being underutilized or is not pulling their own weight without an understanding of their productivity. Personally, loneliness is the only problem listed in the Buffer report that I don’t experience as a remote worker but I can imagine how this might also contribute to a lack of motivation. Now, you don’t want to start infringing on the freedoms remote working has to offer but there needs to be some kind fo balance if productivity is going to be achieved. At the office, if I needed to talk to anybody, I stood up from my chair and walked there. No matter what tool you decide to use, as long as there’s a way to foster two-way communication, remote workers won’t feel isolated from one another. Remote working does create challenges in collaborating and it does make it harder to build a company culture. If you need something more advanced than monday.com, Asana is about as good as it gets in terms of an all-in-one team management platform. Challenge #1: Adjusting to Timezones Having access to solid expertise from around the world is huge. If you can do that, the challenges can be easy to overcome. Some of the most common issues that companies face with managing remote teams include: 1. I’ll be the first to admit that my natural motivation is probably weaker than average. Another challenge with the full remote work is communication. I still find the odd two-hour sessions in a cafe helpful for breaking up the day but I’m now in a position to enjoy my home office. Remote teams were already common in today’s workforce. If it took me 20 minutes to do something yesterday, I’ll be kicking myself if it takes any longer than that to do the same thing today. The good is that, much like project management software, there are countless collaboration tools designed for all kinds of tasks and teams that will help you break down those remote co-working barriers. Whatever collaborative challenges your team faces, there’s almost certainly more than one software option to help you overcome them. In terms of the tools to make this happen, you’re going to want an integrated calendar for teams that pulls everyone’s schedules into a single place. I’m generalising, to some extent, but these social conventions are real and they can make certain aspects of collaboration uncomfortable – for example, correcting someone older or considered as a senior. Trust was found to be a key require… Levi is an Indiana native and IU alum who in his spare time enjoys solving paranormal mysteries with his dog Frodo. Often, sharing experiences in the kitchen during lunch or overhearing conversations with customers reveals a new possible approach or inspires ideas. Challenges of working with remote teams Some remote workers say they face difficulty in getting visibility for their work, including promotions and salary raises. Trust is a key building block of all relationships, and is especially critical in teams. Staying motivated is another common challenge reported by remote workers and I think this essentially comes down to being unsupervised. In this article, it presents seven tips for building trust and I think every remote team should implement these in their own way: The funny thing about trust is it takes a leap of faith and this means giving people enough freedom to prove their trustworthiness. Sometimes a culture is shaped in an office without much effort from the owner or manager. Whether it’s a mix of in-house and remote staff or an entire team of remote workers, managers are responsible for making sure deadlines are met and targets are hit. However, managing a remote team comes with challenges that can affect business operations and overall productivity. This isn’t the case for remote teams. Where things can get tricky is social/political principles, especially if you’ve got team members in countries where human rights, animal rights or anything else are observed in a different way. You can always upgrade to a paid plan to get much more! Luckily, most of my time travelling and working were spent in Asia and there are some great cafe cultures over there. Even though at first sight such a model of employment looks modern and convenient, remote IT teams are confronted with miscommunications, misunderstandings, uncompleted tasks, unresolved bugs etc, both within themselves and communicating with clients. When I was travelling year-round, my best solution to overcoming distractions was working in cafes. For global teams, scheduling a phone call or a video meeting can be challenging due to the different time zones. One-on-one meetings are critical for morale. The most obvious result of this is varying levels of English proficiency (or other languages) but there are more subtle cultural differences that also need to be understood. Remote working sounds like the business revolution we all need but it’s not something you can simply switch to and hope for the best. YEC Without having a physical presence, communication is more difficult and keeping track of individual tasks is problematic, especially for complex projects and large teams. That takes care of the software – now all you need to do is make sure you’ve got the right management in place. Some managers working with project-based freelancers expect them to take calls without pay or as part of a flat rate for working on a project, while managers themselves wouldn’t go to a work-related meeting off the clock. So let’s take a scientific approach to solving this problem. 62% say no. This is another reason it helps to have statuses on apps like Slack and Status Hero so people can see when you are/aren’t available. Communication is the key to success for most teams. Remote teams should become even more common in the future. Aligning Schedules Through Different Time Zones. It’s critical to gather input from all members and to know what each person is working on. Without the presence of supervisors and team members, there’s less pressure to get things done and you can also miss out on that group satisfaction of hitting targets as a team. Traditional email marketing often seems like a formal tool that doesn’t enable quick conversations. The best way to solve this problem is to have a few guidelines in place for your team members. Whether they decide to work specific hours every week or schedule availability time for the week ahead, you generally want to know who is going to be available (and when) on a weekly basis. People who work on remote teams face these challenges consistently. Ideally, you want the key members of your team to have a fairly regular schedule. Managers are left wondering how they are supposed to manage people they rarely see in person. Let’s start with the language aspect first. Productivity isn’t only an issue for remote workers and there’s a lot of scientific research going into this topic these days. A rogue generalisation about religion, for example, or having a strict vegan working with someone from a country with a less-than-spectacular animal rights record. Native speakers need to be aware that misunderstandings will happen and take whatever possible steps to make them less likely/severe. The first thing you need for remote collaboration is an effective communication channel. There are plenty of options available for this and I’ve talked about monday.com as a great option in a couple of articles before: The great thing about monday.com is that it gives you multiple project views to keep track of progress while its task management system is great. Challenges of remote working teams and their solutions Even though theoretical advantages of remote working teams are vast, in practical terms things do not run so smoothly in the day-to-day. If anything, there are more distractions at home than in a hotel room. Finding a time that works well for everyone requires knowing where your participants live and their general schedules. Distractions are another productivity killer that can turn remote working into a nightmare and compromise team progress. However, the are a number of other steps you can take to build and maintain trust across your entire team. These are the top 5 challenges of managing remote teams and how you can solve them: Lack of Productivity It is important that every team leader ensure that their team members will not have to stay up at night and sleep through their day for the sake of their team’s operations. Managers worry that workers aren’t completing work, while workers have a range of concerns, including whether they’ll be paid on time (or at all, in some cases). However, where I disagree with Mayer is in the response to these challenges. Remote working brings a lot of potential benefits to the table but you’re never going to get to a point where you can enjoy these unless you achieve a level of productivity and discipline that helps achieve a work-life balance. Even group meetings and collaboration sessions can be set at times suitable for everyone in a matter of clicks. From a simple online poll that lists selected dates and times that team members can choose to calendaring apps and a variety of websites and free hosts that assess participant availability, there are ways that make the process of scheduling a meeting less stressful. I’m not a particularly competitive person when I’m put up against other people. One of the most significant challenges in a remote work is communication, either with a boss, manager, or other team members. Because the truth is that managing a remote team can be quite challenging, especially when you want to do “business as usual” and have your employees work in a way that makes them feel like they’re working toward the same goals. The best way to switch off after work is by getting everything done that you set out to do before the day is over. If a meeting or call is mandatory and work-related, plan on paying staff members to attend. The most common challenge remote teams report in studies is collaborating from different locations. Remote Meetings. RescueTime is another productivity tool that helps you (and individual team members) see where time is being wasted. How can you keep track of progress on individual tasks while also keeping a keen eye on project-wide progress? Every team needs to work as one. Despite all the perks remote workers enjoy, there are a number of challenges that arise from working out of the office. Each member should join the team understanding that their flexible work location does come with some structure. For instance, if you want to foster a culture of open communication, remote team members need to be able to communicate with everyone, including the CEO, with a virtual “open door” policy. To avoid potential issues, you may choose to encourage open dialogue about culture, religion, politics, etc. The good news is, with a relatively basic understanding of workplace culture, you can anticipate these differences and avoid problems. This means you can use Daywise to block notifications that might distract you while you’re working and then block work-related apps from eating into your personal time. Automation Insider, Startup Marketing One of the greatest freedoms remote working gives businesses is the ability to hire talent from around the world. It then asks me to break this objective into multiple work sessions for the day and these are the individual tasks that will help me hit my target by the end of the day. These kinds of statements might be well intentioned, but it may lead some freelancers to believe they’ve been strung along. Outsourcing web development and design or working in separate remote teams of IT specialists is trending in the world to an immense extent. I’m not particularly proud to admit it but by creating short work sessions in Serene and seeing that countdown timer, I find myself remotivated every time I look at the clock to see how much time is left (or isn’t). If team members are siloed, you might as well forget about mutual trust and collaboration and with remote teams, it’s usually difficult to see which workers are overwhelmed with work and those whose skills are underutilized. According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report, the most common problem remote workers have is unplugging after work – an issue 22% of respondents said they experience. A quarterly review will help you see how the members of your remote team are coping with the work. Communication is the key to success for most teams. Published on: 10 Apr 2020 by Levi Olmstead, 7 mins to read. Slack has established itself as the go-to communication platform for remote teams – and for good reason. 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