Working remotely is becoming more common, but companies often find themselves struggling when making this shift. A lot of companies make the same frequent mistakes that make the shift even more challenging.
Luckily, you can avoid these mistakes with just a few simple changes. Changing your office system to a remote one is exceptionally challenging for everyone involved, but some things can be done that help make the change swift and hassle-free.
If you want to know more about how to avoid these mistakes that companies make when they begin working remotely, you are in the right place. Keep reading!
- Believing online meetings will function like physical ones
- Too Many meetings
- Not thinking remote first
- Forgoing team building exercises
- Not providing equipment
- Ignoring Individuality In Working Environments
- Assuming Internet Connections Are Consistent
- Believing Working Hours Will Increase
- Failing To Put Rules in Place To Keep Everyone In Sync
- Turning The Virtual Office into One Way Comms
1. Believing Online Meetings Will Function Like Physical Ones
No matter how efficient your remote setup is, online meetings cannot function the way physical ones do. There are so many additional factors to take into consideration, and most of them are things that don’t even cross our minds when we start remote working.
Ryan Bednar, CEO of RankScience says:
“One mistake I’ve seen is thinking meetings will function the exact same way as they did in person. There’s often more preparation and planning that needs to go into remote meetings to make them as effective as in-person, from my exp.”
During an online meeting, people can experience different issues, such as connectivity issues. However, that does not mean the meeting has been ruined. Instead, everyone should remind themselves that remote working is not an easy feat when you are unaccustomed to it.
Online meetings will take some time to get used to. They develop their own quirks, but after attending a few of them, your team will adapt to them. However, this can only happen when you and your employees accept that online meetings will never be the same as physical ones.
The best way to deal with online meetings is to accept the problems that come with them, one at a time. After a while, you will develop your own way of handling them. If you think about it, online meetings are much better than physical ones because of how easy they are to set up for those living in different cities.
2. Too Many Meetings
Back-to-back meetings not only damage your team members productivity but are seriously exhausting for everyone involved. Although they need to communicate and coordinate to align with each other, they also need time to execute their work.
While it is easier to facilitate meetings in a remote system, that does not mean an appointment should fill every working hour. These are filled with information and complexities, which can quickly become overwhelming and sometimes, not even needed as a high share of this information can be also exchanged using text and/or async communication channels: your project management system or slack.
Think that if one person has to attend three or more meetings in a day, there are high chances they won’t have the chance to focus on execution.
Jonathan Berthold, VP Customer Acquisition, at PathIQ, says:
“Overbooking calendars with meetings! Meeting fatigue is very real and I see companies block off entire days for back-to-back-to-back meetings as if there’s no extra work to be done.”
Make sure to establish async first communication protocols and guidelines within your company:
- Avoiding to set online meetings for non-complex and non-urgent to communicate and coordinate matters that can be handled via your project management system.
- Asking to establish a clear agenda and goal for every online meeting.
- Asking your team to block times at the start or end of their workdays for calls, so they can have many hours in-between for execution.
- Setting a maximum number of meetings allowed per day.
- Setting a “non-meetings day” per week so your team members can completely concentrate and execute during that day.
You will notice a considerable difference in their attitudes if you adopt this method. It will be very apparent that their minds are more active because of the innovative ideas they will have due to their break from monotonous meetings.
3. Not Thinking Remote First
Conference calls no longer need complete physical presences and may be done using the hybrid system – where some people attend them online while others do so in the office. A huge error that many companies make is that they unknowingly exclude remote workers and pay more attention to those that can attend the meetings physically.
To fix this, there should be individual dial-ins so that everyone can be granted the same opportunities to speak and share their opinions. So, when people are not present in the office, they can join the call from wherever they are.
Nick Wilsdon, Founder and CEO at Torque Partnership, says:
“It’s so important to make meetings inclusive. Don’t have a hybrid, in-office + remote dial-in setup. Get everyone to dial-in individually to prevent remote participants from being excluded. Think remote-first.”
You should prioritize remote workers and help make their lives as easy as possible because they may be forced to stay home due to various possible reasons. With an efficient hybrid system, no remote worker should have a problem dialing in.
4. Forgoing Team Building Exercises
When a group of people sees each other every day, they develop a kind of bond, which makes it easier to work with one another. However, remote working removes this opportunity to forge said bonds and limits interactions to formal screens. An office that thrives on its employee’s teamwork must have a plan that allows for team building despite the technical hurdles.
You can do this very easily by setting a watercooler channel in the company slack, incorporating short online sessions or meetings that give people an opportunity to discuss things outside of work and start organizing remote team building activities like the ones described in this guide. Once people have built rapports with one another, they will be able to work together more efficiently, which will be an advantage to your company.
Praveen Sharma, SEO strategist, when asked about the top mistakes companies do when they start to work remotely, says:
“Not having online sessions/meetings where teams can interact with each other and talk about besides work stuff.”
A fun way you can go about this is by holding virtual events or parties where everyone gets dressed up and hangs out together without the burden of the workday. Since it is all online, there are no additional costs you would have to bear either, and it is easy for you to set up! Everyone can make themselves a meal, grab a drink, and play some entertaining games with their coworkers.
5. Not Providing Equipment
Just because someone happens to have access to computers, internet, and electricity at the office does not guarantee that they would have the same resources at home. Offices tend to ignore this idea and expect everyone to be able to adapt to working virtually. This is difficult for those who are limited by the amenities available to them.
Mark Rowles, SEO Consultant, says:
“Forget to distribute business equipment so everybody couldn’t work on the start date and had to go into the office to collect what they needed from pcs, laptops to telephones.”
One way to ensure that everyone has as fair a playing field as they can is by distributing necessary equipment to your team or allocating a spend so they can buy new work equipment. This can include laptops, headphones, internet connection, access to coworking space or anything else important to the nature of the work.
This will allow for a smoother transition to virtual work and will be immensely helpful to the employees who would not be able to buy their own equipment.
6. Ignoring Individuality In Working Environments
Human beings are all different and live different kinds of lives. Some people have young children, and others live alone. Some have spacious homes, and others do not. Why is this important? Well, their home lives can very much affect their productivity.
Something many companies ignore when moving towards a remote work solution is that some people may have the facilities to create a good work environment at home, while others may not.
Lizzie Lewington, Head of SEO at Bigfoot Digital, says:
“Largely assuming everyone’s wfh environment is the same. Some have spacious homes with spare rooms they are able to convert to offices, others don’t meaning sharing spaces with flat mates/spouses/kids etc, affecting mental health/productivity.”
People that live in smaller houses or apartments tend not to have enough room to create a dedicated office space. Sharing the house with kids and other relatives sometimes means that there’s chaos at home while they need to do work. Employers should consider all of this when dealing with remote employees, and you should not assume that everyone’s environment at home is conducive to optimal productivity. Because of this, it’s always advisable to give alternatives to employees, like paying for a coworking space, in case it’s not possible for them to have a good work environment from home.
This also goes for availability during the day. If someone lives with children, they may need some time to go help out when necessary because daycares could be closed or for other reasons.
It would be best not to hold them responsible for problems brought forth by factors out of their control. Being patient and considerate will go a long way with your employees.
7. Assuming Internet Connections Are Consistent
Virtual work requires a reliable and secure internet connection; that’s a no-brainer. When everything goes online, the world is essentially dependent on the internet, which comes with its own set of issues.
Unfortunately, some people may have trouble with internet stability depending on their service provider. This is why it is paramount that you ask before and have a stipend to pay for a high speed internet connection at home, and if it’s not doable, to provide a hotspot solution to connect from anywhere.
It’s also to raise awareness across team members about the importance to double check connections (and using cable if possible) before important online meetings to make sure the quality is good enough to make them happen as expected.
8. Believing Working Hours Will Increase
Just because people no longer have to drive to and from work does not mean they must do additional tasks or have more available time. Just because the commute has been removed does not entitle you to more of the employee’s time and effort.
People will not be starting earlier or ending later just because their trek to work is nonexistent, and you should not expect them to take on more work because of the remote system.
Make sure your team members know about this so they can also set healthy work boundaries and avoid asking them to do any tasks after their work times.
9. Failing To Put Rules in Place To Keep Everyone In Sync
Every well-oiled machine needs to work on specific protocols and guidelines. The same can be said for a successful remote work setting. If there are no rules to keep people in sync, then everything could fall apart.
With remote work, employers should form new guidelines to make sure everybody is aligned, relying on async first communication, making good use of online communication and collaboration tools. The same should be done for onboarding, privacy and security, toolkits and every aspect of the day to day.
Nitin Manchanda, Founder & Chief SEO Consultant at botpresso.
“Don’t give less importance to team dynamics. It’s easy to manage when you’re sitting next to each other, and the importance of relationship, trust and authenticity doesn’t change when you’re working remotely. Working on “the team” shouldn’t be an “ok, we will do this one day” thing!”
It’s also critical to balance this well to avoid an excess of online meetings -that can also kill productivity and raise intrusiveness- and micromanaging. Make sure to establish successful remote work policies as a new remote company taking into consideration to key criteria shared here.
10. Turning The Virtual Office into One Way Comms
In some companies, meetings started to look like twenty mute faces nodding along to one speaker, when in the past they had all team members interacting and sharing their views with each others.
With the remote shift, sometimes communication has gone from a two-way system to a one-way one, detrimental to those team members that relied on this channel to voice their views or concerns. One-way comms like this make it easier for someone to become demotivated.
To avoid this, you should make sure everyone is being engaged frequently, and can easily participate in team calls and chats, to share their views on any needed matter.
Melissa Dever, SEO & Content Manager, says:
“1/ Monday office checkins went from 2 way comms (when in person) to 1 way comms (20 silent heads nodding along) 3/ weekly KPI mtgs got shorter and colder ‘just the facts maam’ 4/ watercooler chat on the general WFH slack channel was discouraged (unless you were the special few)”
Making sure your team members can express their views in a safe and healthy environment will not only increase their happiness, and engagement with the company, but will likely have a more positive impact in other aspects like productivity.
Nobody wants to be micromanaged by a boss or client. Micromanaging usually tends to come from a lack of trust and generates stress and disinterest in work, which is the opposite of what your goal should be.
Dani Owens, Owner of Pigzilla, says:
“I’ve seen some try to micromanage their team because they don’t trust them to work as well remotely as the did in person.”
If you worry about the littlest details while your company is moving onto a remote working environment, you will face losses in many shapes. Employers should look towards increasing productivity and creativity, but micromanaging only limits them.
Steve Huskey, SEO Consultant, says:
“You’ve got to trust your employees to do the work without input from you. Not micromanagent. If you can’t trust them, they can’t work for you.”
A very obvious fix is to stop micromanaging your employees and let them do the jobs you hired them to do, while making sure to provide work guidelines, validation frameworks and tools for them to develop their work in an efficient way, while measuring their performance based on their work output and achieved goals, rather than the time spent.
With a few structural changes, you can make the remote workplace run much more smoothly, but this requires understanding that some of the practices you used to have when working at an office will need to change when you shift to a remote work environment. Shift the way you work up and see how your employees react and whether it helps productivity and motivation. If it does not, then the chances are that you have to continue amending guidelines until they do.
Remote working is already here to stay, and although it might take a bit of effort to make your company to work smoothly in a remote first environment, it’s an investment for a brighter, and more efficient, remote work environment future.
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