With the advancements in technology, the idea of working from home isn’t exactly a new concept. Remote work has been on the rise in recent years but did not see a wide adoption until the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, having remote work as part of the new normal brings with it new challenges for both employees and HR.
In order to better adjust to this new normal and improve overall conditions and management, it is crucial to tackle these challenges correctly. This article will provide a guide to the various work from home challenges and how HR and management can better address them.
1. Disruption of work-home balance
Pre-pandemic, the divide between work life and personal life was easily established—offices and homes were located away from each other. Now, the lines between work and home are blurred as they share the same space. Due to this lack of separation, it becomes even more difficult to pull away. This can lead to employees overworking and may escalate to burnout.
The best way to approach this work-from-home challenge is to establish boundaries, both digitally and mentally. The company should put policies into play that honor work hours and do not take advantage of an employee’s round-the-clock access to the system.
For employees, creating a physical boundary between their workspace and the rest of the home can help them transition between work life and home life better. This could come in the form of a dedicated space for work.
2. Lack of face-to-face communication
In a traditional office setup, asking for help or collaborating with colleagues was easy through huddles and other informal communication. But when working from home, the lack of face-to-face contact can make it difficult or intimidating to seek advice or engage with other employees.
While in-person communication is impossible for remote work, video calls can make meetings feel more human. Alongside this, consider adopting other digital communication tools like Google Hangouts or Slack. This allows for a robust communication system where both formal and informal conversations can be addressed with ease.
3. Isolation of information
The sudden shift to a work-from-home setup has created isolation of information. New learnings and information are not immediately shared with the team due to the lack of in-person discussions and meetings. As a result, miscommunication and possible workflow problems occur.
To address this challenge, it is important to focus on digital team-wide solutions. Hold online meetings and seminars to facilitate and encourage knowledge transfer among team members. This move can be supplemented by developing online playbooks and SOP guidelines, which help smoothen the process of sharing information.
4. Home distractions
Part of the disruption of the work-home balance is the sudden addition of home distractions. These can span a wide range of activities: doing chores and errands, housemates/family members needing help, outside interruptions, and the like. Other distractions include the temptation of doing non-work or leisurely things instead of working.
Depending on the type of distractions faced, there are several solutions. As HR, you can ask for your employee’s schedule at home to have a glimpse of the type of distractions they face when working. While it’s not your responsibility as HR to oversee their behavior at home, understanding their situation can explain their work performance.
5. Tech challenges
Whether you’re a recruitment agency in Manila or a start-up based in the province, technology is at the core of remote work. Unfortunately, tech problems—connectivity issues, difficulty using apps and tools, malfunctions, and the like—can affect individual productivity and create problems for the overall workflow.
While technical issues are unavoidable, having backup solutions for both employees and management can ensure that work and other important tasks continue. For example, if connections prove difficult, video calls can be dropped for voice-only calls. A backup pocket Wi-Fi or mobile data plan can provide connectivity in case of sudden internet problems.
If the problem occurs from company equipment, any issues should be reported to the responsible department immediately. Once in a while, you can also send a survey to everyone to know the status of the devices they use for work and the stability of their internet connection.
6. Social isolation
Another emerging work-from-home challenge is the increasing social isolation in the new normal. Aside from cabin fever that results from being unable to safely leave the house, employees living alone may struggle with loneliness and the lack of human interaction. This can affect one’s mental health and negatively impact their productivity and participation at work.
To better address this challenge, management should encourage remote social interaction. Digital team-building activities can help connect employees despite the physical distance and reinforce positive connections. Regular weekly check-ins with managers can also allow employees to voice out their concerns—whether work-related or otherwise—safely.
Up for the Challenge
In the new normal, more companies are committing to the shift to work-from-home. As a result, they stand to face the challenges that remote work can have. It is critical to properly address these challenges for employees to adjust to the changes better, leading to the company’s better performance overall.
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