Part 2: 7 challenges and solutions of working with remote teams

More people are working remotely today than ever before. (Rawpixel pic)

With the Covid-19 virus on the prowl, the demand to work remotely has skyrocketed.

Remote work brings many benefits for both employers and employers but it has its own fair share of challenges.

Here are four more challenges that need to be addressed when it comes to remote working:

4. Inadequate processes

Virtual teams will have to face the obstacle of having to follow inadequate or poorly efficient procedures.

How can institutional processes of traditional work-models be adapted to remote models?

  • Prioritise objectives, not processes: Maybe your on-site workers have developed tasks in a particular manner, but your remote team may have established its own too, which may prove more effective, to meet goals.

Allow your remote team to agree on deciding which is more suitable, and based on that, establish and optimise processes.

  • Maintain constant optimisation and monitoring: Keep an attitude focused on continuous optimisation and be open to your teams’ advice on improvement strategies.
Working remotely, if done right, is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

5. Lack of productivity and time management troubles

Many companies view home-based work as a threat to their control over their employees’ productivity.

How can time management issues be resolved in remote working teams?

  • Measure work progress: The best way to ensure that all people are fulfilling their tasks on time and correctly is to set clear objectives and deadlines.

One way to achieve this is by keeping track of the hours worked: this will give you a clearer insight into the time required to complete particular tasks, allowing realistic expectations on your team’s progress.

There are tools such as Harvest or Toggl which may provide a track on hours. Workana also counts with a special programme for this: the Workana Time Report, an easy way to audit in real-time your remote collaborators’ performance in regard to hours.

  • Institutionalise good practices: Agreeing on a check-list of good practices is an excellent way of establishing who is to send each part of the work without overloading other members or causing a loss of time to the rest of the team.
  • Discourage burn out: Abnormal behaviours, irritable moods, messages sent late at night or at dawn, and a sudden decrease in the standards of quality are all signs that your co-worker needs a break.

Not reading those signs may lead to the risk of a drop in motivation or the cause for resignation.

6. Geographical, cultural or ideological barriers

How can remote working teams face geographical, cultural or ideological barriers?

  • Different languages: Even while all members may use English, members may have different commands on the word, leading to problems in communication.

Tip: Make your prospects sit for a professional exam on the language in which they will communicate. Provide training and courses for them to improve their communication skills.

  • Discordant time zones: while part of your team may be at their peak hour of productivity, others may be sleeping, which implies inevitable delays in workflow.

Tip: Set up delivery schedules with deadlines marked on fixed days and hours.

More businesses are taking advantage of the flexibility of remote and distributed work to hire across borders and create an international team
  • Cultural differences gap: Get close to your colleagues for them to feel confident about sharing with you the cultural difficulties they may be facing.

7. Lack of leadership

Lack of leadership is one of the main problems virtual teams face, since many people may be great face-to-face leaders but do not have the required skills needed to exert remote leadership.

How can lack of leadership be overcome in remote working teams?

In a Harvard University survey, participants were asked to describe the profile of what they considered to be a particularly great manager in dealing with remote working teams. While some respondents said they had never run into such a kind, the others were able to identify the following vital attitudes:

  • Frequent and consistent feedback: 46% of the surveyed pointed out good remote working team leaders give regular and personal input at least once a week.
  • They rely on face-to-face or verbal communication: Good project leaders working with remote teams are concerned with scheduling video-calls or at least phone calls with collaborators whenever important subjects need discussion. They also promote team bonding, helping members to get to know each other thus exceeding a mere exchange of files or on chat.
  • Outstanding communication skills: they are perfectly able to convey complex ideas, specific expectations, abounding information and constant motivations to all the remote team. They are good listeners, cast confidence, respect and empathy and are personally concerned about their mates.

Conclusion

Freelance work displays many advantages for companies and people. However, no work scheme is exempt from having its challenges and difficulties.

Nevertheless, the solution is by developing good practices that allow you to get the highest potential from your remote colleagues.

Remote work is increasingly popular but it has its fair share of challenges.

You can start building your own remote collaborators team in Workana, the leading platform in Latin America connecting you to the best freelance talents required to make your business grow while saving money.

To read about the first three challenges, read here!

Click here to find out more about Workana to start hiring or enlisting as a freelancer.