Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying lockdowns and social distancing guidelines, remote working has increased dramatically and rapidly. But while concerns about health and safety due to coronavirus may have caused this to happen more quickly than previously expected, workplaces have been trending toward remote working for some time now.
There are many advantages to remote working for employees and businesses. However, remote working also creates challenges that don’t exist in a traditional workplace. Read how a Texas law firm resolved remote work productivity challenges with InterGuard.
If you’re just now adopting remote working in response to the pandemic or if you’re considering shifting your organization to remote work, take a look at some of the things that you need to know about what challenges you may be facing because of remote working and how you can tackle them.
Communication can be a problem even in traditional workplaces where you see your employees and they see each other every day. Just because you’re sharing the same physical space does not mean that you’re all communicating effectively with each other. However, remote working adds a whole extra layer of complexity to workplace communication.
Making sure that the lines of communication are open – and stay open – is vital to making a remote working situation work. Videoconferencing and remote meetings using applications like Zoom have gotten a lot of press since the pandemic shutdowns started. Holding Zoom meetings or Facetime conferences is a good way to ensure that everyone is on the same page. But it’s not enough by itself.
It’s important to set expectations about communication when your employees are working remotely. When an employee emails a supervisor or manager or leaves a voicemail for HR, how long will it take for them to receive a response? Don’t leave them wondering – set a policy that addresses this. Your employees will be more encouraged to reach out if they know they’ll receive a response within 24 hours than they will if they don’t know if they’ll ever receive a response.
Make sure that there’s also a similar policy in place for workers – spell out how often they need to check-in and how long they have to return messages from their supervisors or coworkers. Everybody should be clear on what’s expected of them to keep communication moving.
One major reason that some employers have been slow to adopt remote working is concerns about employee productivity monitoring. If your employees don’t have to come to the workplace and work there where you can see and talk to them, how will you know that they’re actually getting the work done?
It’s a real concern. Most employees are invested in their jobs and doing their best, but having just a few employees who slack off on the clock can cost a company a lot of money. Of course, this already happens in traditional workplaces, but it’s reasonable to be worried that it may happen more frequently when employees are working from home.
But working from home doesn’t necessarily have to mean working unmonitored. Remote employee monitoring software is a well-known and widely accepted method of making sure that employees maintain their productivity, and it doesn’t have to happen solely in the workplace.
If your employees are using company-issued devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones in their work, you’re probably within your rights to install monitoring software on those devices. Employee monitoring software can help you track what your employees are doing during the hours when they’re supposed to be working, which can help you ensure that productivity remains stable even after a transition to remote working.
It can also help curb cyberloafing – the practice of viewing social media websites, doing online shopping, or performing other personal internet-related activities during work hours instead of focusing on the work.
Basic security is another serious issue for businesses. Everyone has seen data breaches in the headlines. It’s not just the loss of sensitive data that causes problems for a business that’s been breached. The cost of a data breach, especially in the healthcare industry has spiked during the pandemic according to “The 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report” released on July 28th in a joint report by IBM Security and Ponemon Institute. The loss of public trust in the aftermath of a serious breach can cost an organization a lot of business, or even put them out of business. Additionally, they can be held liable for compromised employee or client data that’s exposed in a data breach.
Working from a traditional workplace can seem like the only way to keep data secure. When your employees work from your building, you have much more control over the network they use and the devices they use. However, data breaches happen even in traditional workplaces, so perhaps it’s a question of having the right security protocols in place no matter where employees happen to be working from.
This is another area where a good employee monitoring system can help. Employee monitoring software can tell you more than just whether your employees are visiting Facebook while they’re supposed to be working. They can pinpoint and alert you to suspicious behavior, like visiting one file over and over again or downloading and printing an unusual amount of files – actions that can indicate malicious activity that could lead to a breach. They could also let you know about actions that your employee could take innocently that could put your company at risk for a breach, like visiting insecure websites or clicking on files in phishing emails.
Remote working is a new situation for many businesses and organizations, and there are bound to be challenges and mistakes as both workers and employees make the transition. But the desire to work remotely and the benefits of allowing remote work are likely to remain, so it’s worth looking into strategies and tools that can help you make remote working work long-term. A good remote work monitoring software system can help. Take an online test drive!