The work scenario today is stretching workplace flexibilities to accommodate the needs of professionals. Globally stationed offices have also made extending flexible workplaces a norm. Working remotely is the new trend that is transcending industries. While working remotely comes with its own set of benefits, it isn’t well-suited for some industries or professions. IT managers are often bound by limitations and reach a wall with remote working environments.
The WeWorks and other shared working spaces of the world are cropping up in numerous places to cater to the rising need of professionals who work remotely. Essentially, these professionals, from various industries, do not need to go to a specific office location or work for an overseas company or have opted to work from home temporarily. Most professionals, however, choose to work out of their own homes while they work remotely. For an employee, it is the most relaxing and flexible way of working.
While working remotely is beneficial with benefits such as increased employee productivity, satisfaction levels and is known to increase the company income it also comes with a few challenges to the IT managers. Here are the six common challenges for getting work done remotely:
Almost all issues are due to lack of communication, especially with management. Though in this era of high-speed internet, messages reach faster than a phone call, response and communication rely on the human counterpart. The manager has to be skilled and extremely nifty to communicate a strategy to the team in a way that is easily understandable by the team located at different locations. The manager should also be able to get updates as to what is happening in the team while working remotely. Often, this is where an out of sight team can be difficult to handle, as there is no effective way to monitor work is being done.
A problem for IT managers
It can be a stumbling block for many IT managers which is why remote work becomes an issue with them. When communication fails, a number of problems arrive. Progress of work suffers, and employees feel isolated, eventually lowering their morale. Getting everyone on board to attend an online meeting may be quite a task owing to different timelines and availability, ultimately hampering efficiency if things don’t align.
Even though working with remote teams increase productivity, managers should have the capability to handle backlogs. Backlogs are a hurdle during a project, and if not cleared in the beginning they can risk the entire project. Backlogs have to be managed by repeated discussions which are termed difficult while working remotely, especially when people are working in different time zones. If all the employees are in the same region, then it is easy to communicate and manage. But in case of remote employees where the team is spread globally in different geographical regions then one has to take time out for the other based on each other’s time zone which is a hurdle. This is a tougher way of coordinating. Also, it is difficult to keep track of whether each team member is logging in regularly as scheduled or not. For instance, if you are waiting for a response to a crucial email and the team member has logged out, it increases downtime and in turn, affects productivity.
This is again an issue related to dealing with a workforce which is globally diverse. There are cultural barriers, different work cultures and culturally dictated holidays. This can be a challenge to while effecting uniform work culture. Also, issues with language, interpretations, and communication with global teams is a pressing issue. The differences impact how the team communicates and how information is transferred and received. When there is a gap in this, the manager will have to work twice as hard to get the team on the same page, increasing the time spent and lowering overall productivity.
The basic task of a manager is to ensure that all employees accomplish all their duties in the stipulated time efficiently and by maintaining the company’s standards. This becomes tedious for managers when it is a remote team. For an employee, it is just finishing the work on time, but the other aspects such as quality and standards matter a lot as well. Some work only a set number of working hours, so reaching out in time for changes may not be possible. In both cases, it reduces productivity and managers have to follow up with employees virtually to get the task done in the right manner and within the right time frame. This is one of the greatest challenges to a leader. A manager can never know how much time the employee has spent on effective work.
Meeting and greeting each other at an office set-up builds a sort of bonding and trust between people. It is human nature. While in a remote team, this type of bonding and trust doesn’t exist. For a usual team at a physical office two things are important:
Never happens in a remote team
In a remote team, the above is never accomplished, and functioning of the team without an understanding is tough. The manager has to get adjust to each member’s work pace and style and ensure that the whole project comes together without loopholes. This can be difficult when the team is not in tune with each other.
Conflicts are common in any kind of team. Physical or remote, a team has conflicts because of the errors, backlogs, communication mistakes etc. A team and managers have to handle such conflicts, but it is a tough job to handle remote conflicts. Coordination and understanding may not always be possible without physical presence. And miscommunication and incorrect interpretations are common over virtual communication platforms, making resolving conflicts a huge task for IT managers.
IT managers who work remotely, with a remote team have many challenges to brave. Most of these are taxing and can take up quite a lot of time and effort on the part of the manager. However, with the right tools and good agile practices, it can be easier for managers to get their team on board and sift through projects while keeping productivity intact.