The remote working challenges nobody is talking about
Remote working is extremely beneficial for everyone involved, including employers and employees. That's extremely obvious nowadays so let's not waste more time in this blog post repeating the same things as thousands of bloggers out there.
What is also certain though, is that remote working actually might not be a functional working model for all professionals and organizations out there no matter how experienced or passionate they are. Why? Because remote working is really tough, so it is not a working model that fits everyone and this is normal.
# The elephant in the room
So here lies a big truth. When we discuss the challenges of the remote working model we tend to focus only on one (1) question: People who work remotely can actually compete with the ones working in-house in terms of productivity and efficiency?
The answer is that:
Not only they can actually compete with them, but they can easily outperform them under the right circumstances.
As the CEO of a remote-first tech company with almost two (2) decades of remote working experience, I can unequivocally affirm that productivity surges when employees transition from a traditional office setting to a remote working arrangement by giving them the freedom and the means to choose how they are going to do their job.
Why? It is really simple. The increased focus on outcomes rather than clocking in and out, empowers employees to redefine what successful, productive work looks like. That way, people learn how to focus primarily on results and not on looking busy.
Now that we addressed the elephant in the room, let's go a bit deeper and discuss the actual challenges remote working professionals and organizations have to deal with, and rarely do we talk about them.
# Work conversations
One of the significant challenges remote workers face is the overwhelming dominance of work conversations in their interactions with colleagues and managers. Unlike in an office where the coffee break or water cooler chats provide opportunities for casual, non-work related discussions, remote workers report that nine out of ten interactions are purely professional.
Sometimes this is exhausting. This lack of social interaction can foster feelings of disconnection and even sadness.
# Depression and loneliness
Another prevalent issue faced by remote employees is loneliness. The lack of physical contact with team members is a drastic shift from the office environment, and for some, this absence can escalate to feelings of depression. This isolation can also lead to employees feeling detached from their team or the company as a whole.
The sense of camaraderie and shared purpose that naturally emerges in an office setting can be harder to cultivate remotely.
# The double-edged sword of freedom
Self-management is another challenge that surfaces in remote work. Without the defined boundaries of an office, managing one's own schedule and ensuring a balanced work-life integration can be daunting, even for experienced professionals.
The flexibility that remote work provides is a double-edged sword, offering freedom but demanding discipline.
# Physical activity
Health and wellness are further areas where remote workers can stumble. The absence of a commute or even the need to walk to a colleague's desk can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, causing weight gain and other health issues.
Companies need to encourage and facilitate regular physical activity as a key part of their remote work policy.
# Am I visible?
Visibility, or the lack thereof, can also be a source of anxiety for remote workers. Employees may worry if their hard work is recognized or if they are at a disadvantage compared to colleagues who can physically show up at the office. This perception can lead to overworking, stress, and even burnout.
# Priorities change
Lastly, the personal circumstances of remote workers can change, causing them to miss the office environment. As people's lives evolve, so do their preferences and needs. This means that even an ardent remote worker might start longing for the office life, which can add a layer of stress and uncertainty.
These challenges can seem formidable, but they are not insurmountable. Organizations must stay engaged with their employees, having regular touch points, running 1-1s, organizing get together events and various team bonding activities, and ensuring their people feel appreciated and part of a healthy working environment.
Emphasizing mental and physical well-being is not just a nice-to-have, but a must-have. After all, remote work is not a fleeting trend but a fundamental shift in how we perceive and perform work especially in the post-covid era.
As we navigate this new landscape, let's do so with empathy, understanding, and a readiness to evolve. Cheers!!
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