Since the beginning of 2020 everyone’s working lives changed, businesses have seemed to be waxing lyrical about the benefits of remote working. No stressful commute, more time at home, a better work/life balance…there are lots of good bits, it has to be said. I myself have been the loudest ambassador of remote work since I can remember, long before starting Wolfhouse® which later became NextRetreat®.
But nothing is perfect, so what about the other side of the coin? There are undoubtedly many amazing benefits to it, but in this article, we will not focus on that.
As many people around the world have just experienced their first half-year of working from home, I think it’s also important to look at some of the remote working downsides and how to deal with them effectively.
Problem: Decreased Engagement
Remote working can result in a less engaged, less committed workforce – more likely to quit. Not having the familiarity of a daily commute and start time, having to piece together information from emails and general confusion from poor remote team management are just some of the reasons this can happen. You might see a decrease in concentration levels, less motivation from individuals or a lack of understanding about the company’s ‘new normal’ and its values. There could also be ambiguity – and therefore a loss of interest – in an individual’s goals or purpose.
Remote working can also get lonely at times. Especially for those who live alone or those with a role that doesn’t involve lots of meetings or interaction with colleagues. That’s why keeping in touch is really important.
People like to work remotely, but they also like to come to the office and feel they are part of the group or a project.
When working exclusively remotely, effective communication is a 🗝️ for keeping a remote workforce engaged and motivated. Emails are all well and good for communicating with colleagues, but they’ve got nothing on face-to-face interactions. Commit to regular video calls with your employees – and not just for work-related talk. Scheduling a weekly social – think Virtual Friday Happy Hour or Tuesday Afternoon Tea & Chat – can be a great way to build relationships and combat those feelings of isolation.
On a wider level, you need to make sure the entire organisation is clear on the company’s status and any changes that may be rolled out. These updates can take the form of virtual town halls, emails, newsletters, webinars, breakfast meetings on Slack – whatever type of format works for your team members, just make sure they’re in place so that everyone feels in the loop and onboard.
How team retreats help!
By bringing staff together to bond and inspire one another, team retreats can really help bolster staff engagement and reignite motivation. The opportunity of meeting face-to-face can also make employees who’ve been stuck at home feel less lonely.
Problem: Poor work-life balance
With no commute to contend with, remote working can mean more hours of the day at the laptop, and it can be tempting to carry on for just that little bit longer each night, when you don’t have a train to catch, for example.
We have become a world of interconnected people, living with our screens and devices for a major part of the day. Remote working sometimes urges us to spend even more time online – sending messages back and forth with a colleague on Slack instead of having a chat by the office water fountain or organising long workshops or brainstorming sessions via Zoom instead of all-hands meeting in a conference room.
If employees are putting in too many hours, it’s up to senior staff to monitor this. You need to put frameworks in place to promote a healthy work/life balance (or alignment). Be alert. Is someone sending emails especially late at night? 🕐 Or are they logging on too early in the morning? Organise and delegate tasks properly, and regularly check-in with team members about the volume of their workload. Then make adjustments where necessary. If you can, implement incentives like an early finish on a Friday. It’s a great way to boost morale and improve the balance at the same time.
How team retreats help!
Team retreats offer employees a chance to disconnect from their devices and spend some time doing other mind-enriching activities, thus improving work-life balance.
Problem: Lack of alignment
Not being face-to-face each day can lead to visibility problems, especially for new hires or more junior employees. It can become difficult to know who is contributing what to each project and for the work of some dedicated employees to go completely unnoticed, especially if they aren’t natural self-promoters. On the other hand, remote working can potentially also create a situation where employees aren’t as easily held accountable and suddenly disappear from important tasks or responsibilities.
From emails being ignored to praise not being given where it is due, it can be easy for employees to fall through the cracks..
Again, this comes down to organisation – especially for managers. For remote working to be effective, you need to ensure everyone has access to the necessary documentation. Sharing spreadsheets, for example, or investing in software that makes it easy to see who’s doing what and when. Schedule regular virtual meetings and updates to catch up on progress and connect with people. But be careful not to micromanage, either! There’s a balance here, and it’s about cultivating a culture of trust and openness. Yes, it is easier said than done, but thankfully there is one simple yet powerful solution:
How team retreats help!
Team retreats are the perfect opportunity to ensure every member of the team feels seen, heard and therefore valued. They can be a great chance for team members to re-establish important relations and acknowledge everyone’s hard work.
Problem: Obstacles with new starters
Starting a new job is always nerve-wracking, and even more so when it’s over video calls! So you need to take extra care to make sure things go smoothly, and your newcomer feels like they’re part of the team.
You’ll need to really pay attention to what the newbie will need in terms of equipment, access (log-ins..) and documentation (guidelines..). And bear in mind, it’s a lot easier to learn a new process or task when you’re sat with a mentor watching in the flesh. Think about online tutorials – could you film a how-to video to make things easier? Or, if you’re showing a new employee something on a call, perhaps you could record your meeting so they can watch it back later. Don’t dismiss the usual events just because everyone is working remotely, either. You might be able to organise a team picnic to welcome the individual, for example.
How team retreats help!
Team retreats are a great opportunity for new team members to find their feet and feel welcomed into the company by getting to meet and shake hands with new colleagues.
NextRetreat can help with remote working downsides
Team retreats and team offsites are hugely effective when it comes to combating the obstacles of remote working.
For one, they can really help bolster engagement and motivation when these are low by bringing team together to bond and inspire one another. They can offer employees a chance to disconnect from their devices, thus improving work-life balance. They’re also a fantastic opportunity to ensure every employee feels seen and heard and for new starters to find their feet and feel welcomed into the company by getting to meet and know each other their team mates (read 5 Tips For Organising An Amazing Team Retreat article).
Remote work is great! As trend of working from home becomes more common, companies found out a temporary substitutes eg. at Zoom meetings, but after some time can experience a drop in motivation and productivity and other issues due to limited social interaction. Real-life face-to-face colleague interaction is irreplaceable and will never be a thing of the past.
When you are ready to start planning your next in-person meetup, team retreat or offsite, don’t spend countless hours on search engines and travel sites comparing flight options, researching destinations, looking into venues, comparing team member’s availability, and various other tedious details. Start with NextRetreat! Our solution takes all the stress out of planning team trips, helping you find and book the best location to meet up in, where you can reconnect with colleagues, strengthen relationships, and remind your teams of what’s important for the business moving forward.