Problem: Different time zones.
Remote workers aren't tied down to a certain place. They can live in a different time zone and, correspondingly, work at different times. This might increase the amount of time needed to finish an assignment.
Solution: Take possible time differences into account during the planning stage.
If you aren't ready for this, look for specialists in one time zone and determine your work schedule with them in advance.
It's possible that a remote worker could complete an assignment and send it in to be checked, but the manager, due to a time difference, would only see the email after some time. If you don't want your employee to waste time waking, you could give him two simultaneous assignments.
You can create a general team calendar to not get confused by time zones and pick the best time for calls and project communication. You could use the following: Calendly, Asana Calendar, World Clock Meeting, Google Calendar, Toggl Plan, etc.
Problem: Intercultural barrier.
Due to language barriers and differences in thinking, it can be difficult for teams to form trusting relationships.
Solution: Create general corporate chat messaging rules for your team.
For example, only use English for communication. This will help you avoid situations where coworkers are a general problem for the whole team something in their local language but are not understood by everyone.
Create a general "no topic" chat where the team can share interesting facts, pictures, and articles. This could help them learn more about each other and strengthen their relationships.
Problem: Inability to work in a team.
Sometimes people who work from home pick that type of work on purpose because of certain character traits and personality quirks. For example, an introvert might find it difficult to vocalize his thoughts, so he could pick a solitary job. Someone people in general don't like to talk, might stutter, or be embarrassed about their appearance.
Solution: Without a doubt, even remote work assumes communication.
It might be minimal and limited to communicating with your boss. Adapt to your employees' personal needs and learn how to communicate with them. As a rule, if you replace personal contact, you won't have any problems.
Problem: Employees misunderstanding assignments.
Solution: Learn to clearly formulate your ideas and understandably give your employees assignments.
If you don't word your assignments correctly, it will similarly be completed incorrectly. When instructions are given casually, employees complete then as they see fit. If an assignment isn't completable, then employees won't want to even start working on it.
Set your assignments in writing and focus on every detail you think is important. If you're sending assignments by email, ask your recipient to inform you that it was received. Before they start working make sure they understand everything, ask them to paraphrase the assignment and comment on it. If you leave something out, give them more time since they didn't know all your requirements and you'd have to make corrections more frequently.
If you have specific requirements for your end product, make sure you set up checkpoints for the assignment.
Problem: Nontransparent working process.
When there's no transparency in the working process, an employee's effectiveness decreases. This problem comes up frequently due to information fragmentation. Employees use email, messengers and other communication methods and try to learn a project's status in conferences and private messages. This takes a lot of time and the full picture of the working process might not come together.
Solution: Make a list of specific expectations from remote workers and discuss this with them at the very beginning.
Interaction methods should be transparent and clear to everyone involved.
The market offers a wide assortment of technical tools to ease communication and cooperation between remote workers. Study them and pick the best system for your company.
Problem: Lack of information exchange.
Working online lets remote workers feel free but doesn't acquaint them with the culture and values of their employer. They know nothing about the company's business where they're working and in turn the employer doesn't know anything about them either. Say what you will, but office work brings people together and lets them feel like part of a whole.
Solution: To provide office and remote workers comfortable conditions you need to improve your communication with them.
Regularly provide remote workers with feedback so they understand how well they're doing their work. This also helps support their motivation.
Employers and managers should consider one-on-one meetings. Set up an online call using video-conference software like Zoom, Hangouts, Skype, Cisco Jabber or GoToMeeting with your remote workers and have regular meetings one to three times a month.
This helps evaluate intermediary results and let your employee know if their work is matching the company's expectations. It's important to use both sound and video to get as close as possible to direct communication.
During one-on-one meetings you can discuss the following:
- how the project is going and if your employee is satisfied overall
- are there any complications and do they need help from either the employer or team
- past sprints and projects, as well as advice, on what could have been better and how feedback should go both ways
- Personal goals or Objective Key Results (OKR) If the company works using this method, OKR lets it synchronize individual and team goals and follow them during the project's progress. During meetings you can discuss what progress for these key results has been made
- neutral topics unrelated to work if your employee is ready to discuss them.
Problem: Lack of motivation and involvement.
Solution: Create a work chat for the whole team in Slack, for example, and host all project discussions there.
If your team is large, create several chats for marketers, content managers, sales workers, tech-support workers, etc. Remote workers will be able to talk to their coworkers and will be more involved in the work process. It's preferable for that communication to be informal so they can say what they're thinking and not be afraid of disciplinary actions for careless words.
It's important that remote workers feel like they're part of your company. Tell them news about the company and share vital problems with them even if they aren't related to the remote specialist's duties. Send pictures and videos of corporate conferences, meetings, and parties in an open access area. You could send a monthly newsletter that includes all the main aspects of the company's life since the previous issue.
If you can, set aside a budget for joint activities with remote workers. Include a trip and a few-day stay in a hotel for employees from various cities in their salary. Try to have one or two meetings with remote workers a year. This could be a kick-off, teambuilding event or something like a conference and trip. It's an excellent way to discuss joint assignments and share ideas and future plans. After the meeting, definitely get feedback from your employees on what they thought. It will help you understand what went well and what can be improved next time.
If you can't organize an informal meeting, invite your remote workers to spend a few days in the office. It's another excellent way to strengthen the intra-company relationships.
Adopt an internal reward and motivation system so your remote teams have a stimulus to work even harder. A service like Bonusly might help with this. Every Bonusly user has a fixed amount of bonus points, for example, 100 a month. Employees can send those points to coworkers for help in completing assignments, following instructions or for helpful advice. The accumulating bonus can be exchanged for corporate gifts or additional time off. The prize pool can be determined by company management.