There’s a growing not just preference but demand among employees to be offered remote work options when at all possible. There was already a shift toward more remote work, and then when COVID-19 affected the U.S., this was accelerated in a big way.
By 2023, it’s estimated that more than 36 million Americans will be working remotely, which is 87% higher than before the pandemic.
Employers aren’t necessarily ready for this massive transition, however.
There are a lot of challenges they face, and there is a need to put in place the right tools and technology to facilitate a changing environment.
The following are some of the main things to know about the challenges employers face when it comes to work-from-home and remote work.
One of the biggest issues that many employers still face as far as facilitating remote work is a lack of accessibility to things employees need when they need them.
This might mean data, documents, or customer information, just as a few examples.
First, employers might not have the right tools just yet, such as cloud-based solutions, that allow employees to access what they need from anywhere.
There are also issues of security. Employers face enough of a challenge with cybersecurity in general, and that can be more difficult when employees are working remotely.
The big thing employers have to confront right now is finding those technology solutions that are secure but also allow for accessibility.
It’s New to Employees
When remote work is new to employees, it creates challenges for employers. There are a lot of growing pains that come with completely changing how you do things as an employee.
These growing pains are going to inevitably be felt by the employer.
Employers are going to have employees with varying levels of comfort, not just with remote work in general but also the technology needed for remote work.
Some employees may prefer high levels of interaction, and they can’t get that from remote work, and they may struggle and turn to their manager for support.
For both employees and employers, communication is undoubtedly one of the biggest struggles of remote work.
People have different communication styles, and these can be especially obvious with email or messaging platforms.
It’s difficult to know when a reasonable timeframe to expect a response is, and when you’re not seeing someone’s body language and facial expressions, it’s easy to misconstrue things.
Some of this has been touched on, but employers need to spend money in order to have remote employees. Employees need the right software subscriptions as well as a computer and any other necessary equipment.
If an employer is asking employees to use their own devices, there are inconsistencies, security issues, and there may be downtime as a result as well.
Employees, to get the best outcomes, really need to provide all the necessary technology, but this is expensive.
Declines in Productivity
One of the biggest worries that employers often have when it comes to remote work is the decline in productivity. There is research showing this is a very real problem, but not for every employee.
One good way to help employees maintain their productivity is to have regular contact with them to check in and also to set clear, measurable goals. Task management software can help with this.
If you’re really worried about it, there are also software solutions for activity and performance monitoring. You don’t want to go too far with monitoring, however, because that can infringe on privacy and create resentful employees.
It’s best to start out trusting that your employees are going to operate productively and then only make changes if that’s not happening.
It’s important that you view your employees as what they are, which is your most important asset. With that comes opportunities for your employees to advance in their careers through training and development.
If employees are working remotely, some of those opportunities may not exist, at least in the traditional sense.
For example, your remote employees aren’t going to be able to participate in conventional job shadowing or mentorship.
There are still ways you can grow and develop remote employees and set them up for future success within the business, but you may have to be more creative about it.
Luckily, while there are challenges, once you get past the growing pains of transitioning to remote work, you’re likely to find the benefits outweigh the downsides.