Portable Home Office: 12 Issues Faced by Mobile Managers and Employees

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on August 22#best-practices

Remote work has revolutionized the way we earn a living. But with every change in the workplace comes challenges, and mobile managers and employees can attest to this. 

It’s not always easy managing employees remotely, or being managed remotely, either. Often, an entirely new approach to leadership is required, and employees have to adapt, overcome, and be productive in new ways. 

Take a look at the 12 issues mobile managers and employees face, and how to overcome them:

Issues Managers Face:

Problem: Communication

Removing the face-to-face aspect of communication can result in misunderstandings, wasted time, and conflict. Research has revealed that employees found communication issues with management one of the biggest problems when trying to work remotely. 

Solution: Creating open channels of communication online

Many businesses (even before mass lockdowns) conducted interactions online via email and apps like Slack. Using Workast as a task manager for teams on Slack can be a real help when it comes to keeping communication clear and concise. Make sure that employees know how to contact colleagues they would ordinarily interact with in the office. 

Problem: Productivity 

Everyone thinks that working from home is the ultimate luxury, and while it’s great not having to commute to the office every day, exercising self-discipline is often a hard task. When you’re managing a team remotely the issue of productivity is even trickier to address. 

Solution: Task management tracking

Some employees do well working from home, but others take the opportunity to kick back and slack off. Luckily for managers, it has become easy to track employees’ progress on various tasks through apps like Workast. Setting up spaces, projects, and tasks is simple and makes tracking tasks a pleasure.

Problem: Lack of direction

Leaving office life is a drastic change, and many people experience a slump after the novelty wears off. Limited contact with employees and colleagues can result in a feeling of disconnect. 

Solution: Setting clear goals

As a manager, it’s up to you to lead your team. Just because the world has changed, it doesn’t mean that life has to come to a standstill. Setting clear goals for your staff is one way of motivating employees to engage with their work and to hit targets.  

Problem: Scheduling 

Scheduling can be especially difficult when employees are spread across time zones. When it comes to “sitting down” to a virtual meeting, companies often contend with connectivity issues and other distractions.

Solution: Creating ground rules while remaining flexible

Sometimes scheduling issues are impossible to avoid but it’s a manager’s job to set boundaries. Keeping employees accountable benefits everyone; just try to remain realistic, as moving to remote work will cause hiccups at first.  

Problem: Lack of trust

Workplace relationships can be tricky at the best of times, so it’s little wonder that the switch to remote working results in a lack of trust between managers and employees. 

Solution: Reducing micromanaging and focusing on creating a positive company culture

Showing you trust your team can lay a good foundation for a working relationship. Trust goes both ways, so be transparent with your workers and clear about expectations and boundaries. Working remotely can make people feel lost, which is why you need to make the effort to keep people connected.   

Problem: Collaboration

Research has shown that many companies struggle with collaboration when operating remotely. This problem also stems from the lack of face-to-face interaction. 

Solution: Using online tools and PM techniques

Working with online communication tools and apps like Slack and Workast makes collaboration easier. If there’s a central system that everyone has access to, collaboration becomes far more streamlined and efficient. 

Issues Employees Face:

Problem: Lack of engagement 

After the initial excitement of working remotely fades and reality kicks in, isolation and lack of outside stimulation causes workers to disengage. Adjusting to the new normal isn't always easy.

Solution: Increasing communication and collaboration 

Communication and collaboration work both ways. Clear communication from management should get reciprocated by employees. 

As an employee, it’s important to make yourself heard by raising concerns and asking questions when things are unclear.  

Problem: Time management

Employees often find that time they save on commuting gets swallowed up by procrastination and other distractions.

Solution: Utilizing time tracking software

Employees can make use of time tracking software to give their day structure. Managers can add time tracking extensions to your Workast space to monitor employees’ progress and add accountability.

Problem: Lack of productivity

It’s easy to fall into complacency and neglect important tasks when you’re used to your home being a relaxed environment.

Solution: Goal setting and incentives 

Setting personal goals for yourself as an employee is one way of staying motivated. Goals should be specific, achievable, and realistic. You can ensure that your home office is set up for success by making it look and feel productive.

Problem: Misinterpretation 

In face-to-face interactions, it’s easy to ask questions and clarify, but communicating digitally complicates things. 

Solution: Clear instructions and transparency 

Both management and staff need to stay transparent. Interacting digitally is a challenge, but everyone needs to realize that no question is a stupid question if it helps you get the job done.

Problem: Access to information and tools

Transitioning to working from home can throw things out of kilter when employees realize that they’re without all the tools and information that are readily available in the office.  

Solution: Open communication about requirements 

Once again, being conscious of communication issues and asking questions are two things that can ameliorate this problem. Managers and staff need to communicate in a direct way and be ready to deal with gaps that pop up when people aren’t in the office.  

Problem: Connectivity 

One of the worst culprits when it comes to working from home is patchy connectivity, whether it’s a problem with Wi-Fi, a remote connection or devices malfunctioning. 

Solution: Back-up internet access and power banks 

Being in an office makes it easy to address connectivity issues, but dealing with it in near isolation is stressful. Employees need to think ahead and anticipate problems to a certain extent. Working with managers and colleagues can be helpful in terms of having backups to hand.

The takeaway

There is no doubt about it: working from home is tough, no matter how cushy it sounds. Tackling these issues from both sides makes a difference, and reduces the challenges that push productivity down and make working remotely that much harder.

This article is a guest blog written by Kelly Lowe. To contribute a guest post to Workast.com, please complete the expression of interest form here.

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