Since Covid-19 is what everyone is talking about, so we are going to spare you the gruesome pandemic details. Instead we’re going to talk about remote work challenges and how to deal with it.
In order to flatten the curve numerous industries have ceased operations, while some which can still be operational with distributed teams are trying to make the most of it.
Modern jobs are suitable for a distributed workforce but working remotely and managing teams while sitting miles apart is more difficult than it seems.
A little background about remote work before we begin. It was in 1983 that a legend named Steve Roberts showed the world that working remotely is possible; when he embarked on a 17,000 mile trek across America. All he had was bicycle and a solar powered portable computer on which he penned his iconic book ‘Computing across america’.
Since we are not on a bicycle trekking/working across America, this should be fairly easy for us with an arsenal of tools that are literally made to serve remote work, right? The truth is, while it is relatively easier but it isn’t a cakewalk either.
There are other problems that we need to take into consideration while talking about work that thrives on collaboration.
1. Having to work in Isolation
In contrast to a remote working environment teams in offices solve problems by arguing, empathizing, and celebrating together. The informal chats of the peers away from their desks is also one of the contributing factors to the birth of new ideas.
Whereas in a remote environment there are no such opportunities or need of small talk or relationship building. As a result people feel disconnected from their coworkers. Just to get everyone on the same page remote work requires a lot of communicating and alignment.
What to do?
Filling communication gaps with tools
There are a lot of tools to facilitate real time communication in between teams. You also have to make it clear to your team that these tools are not strictly for work communication.
Try to initiate casual and transparent communication by hopping through tools like Slack or Skype to check in on your coworkers to see how they are doing. Share funny news or memes to keep it light and to let them know that it’s okay to slack.
2. No structure or discipline
Unplanned sessions and meetings help maintain a sense of constant ideation and alignment. The problems are discussed and solved in real time with immediate feedback. It’s not that ideal for a distributed team.
What to do?
Scheduled check-ins with flexible agendas
Getting meetings on a calendar can help you establish a structure that in turn keeps your team regular in communication and in deliveries. Slack can be your friend here, as you can make separate channels for informal conversations, ideas, agendas, task status, and updates.
For the people who need urgent assistance they can get on a call with concerned coworkers easily.
3. Deadlines delaying Burnout
One week you will be full of fresh ideas and energy to execute them and the next you’ll be entertaining your imposter. Isolation might lead to other problems that might not surface in an office environment when you’re working alongside other people.
Being sedentary all day in isolation might make you less productive eventually causing a burnout.
What to do?
Put everything on the calendar
Identify your most productive hours and working from there define your time slots for working and slacking for the day. When you give yourself time to go outside away from the screen and allow your mind to wander, you feel refreshed and relaxed. Avoiding onset of a potential burnout.
The secret to good remote work is treating it like you would at your office. Start small like taking shower and getting dressed before logging in, then move on to more important stuff like checking in with your manager for feedback and informal chat. Like everything difficult, remote work demands discipline and discipline starts with small meaningful steps.