Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

5 Hurdles for Remote Employers to Overcome – And How to Do It

Much has been written on the challenges facing newly remote employees, and there are sector-wide concerns surrounding changing routines and getting into new habits. However, the discussion around employers has seen relatively little guidance.

It is essential not to forget that for SMEs in particular, the concept of remotely overseeing employees is just as unique and unprecedented for middle and upper management.

Here, we cover the challenges already facing many employers and some that they are likely to encounter as the transition to remote working continues. Given the massively increased share of remote opportunities across sectors from 2020 to 2021, adapting to the new regime is critical.

1. Some Employees Struggle to Work In an Out of Office Environment

It is widely accepted that humans are creatures of habit. One such habit involves associating the environment with specific actions. For example, just as most people set up their bedrooms to sleep, they aren’t accustomed to working at their dining tables.

Some might have dedicated workspaces already, but that’s comparatively rare for those with full-time office jobs. However, employers can educate and inform on how to convert a space into ‘office-lite’ mode. This involves a door between them and their family, scheduled hours and comfortable surroundings. Then, through simple changes in the space, the association breaks, and new habits are formed.

2. It’s Easier to Procrastinate and Get Distracted at Home

Most employees are mature and professional, and there are very few that long for their boss’s sick days so they can take it easy. Therefore, it is not so much a lack of motivation that hinders their efforts but the opportunity to do something else at any time.

The best and often most amenable solution is to let go of the 9 to 5 concept. If an employee wants to vacuum the house or spend half an hour playing Spider Solitaire Challenge, they should be permitted but also encouraged to do so. The view that “they wouldn’t be able to do that at the office,” while correct, is outdated. Challenge employees, but trust them to get the work done too.

3. There’s Less Security on Most Personal Devices

Most businesses, including even smaller companies nowadays, have robust internal computer networks and security systems. Conversely, the average Joe does not.

This can be a concern for any business, particularly those where sensitive internal data and systems are accessed remotely. However, the solution can often be as simple as a virtual private network (VPN). This can be managed internally by the IT team, with specific access privileges and settings. Alternatively, with reliable services available at £1 per month, putting a good case for employees to use their own will often result in a positive response.

4. Existing Team Bonds May Degrade

Some managers detest it when multiple employees gather around the proverbial watercooler. Still, it is these social interactions that have nothing to do with work that often strengthen the bonds between employees.

While it is difficult to replicate the spontaneity of these conversations remotely, the importance of these interactions shouldn’t be underestimated. Something as simple as a regular Zoom quiz or a more laid-back approach to team meetings with an open mic will not replace in-office bonding, but it will do wonders for keeping it ticking along.

5. Equipping a Team for Remote Working Often Carries Additional Costs

Employees do not expect to pay for much by way of equipment and technology to enable them to work from home. While 24% of UK households have a computer, and 57% have laptops, asking employees to use them for work purposes may receive a frosty response.

Costs are inevitable when going remote, but managing them can lead to opportunities. Some businesses have chosen to simply switch their cost base, cutting down on office space, furniture and other expenses that are suddenly far less important, and funding the remote transformation with the savings. Others may want to maintain what they have but benefit from bulk pricing. Yet more have paid out one-off grants to employees to enable them to purchase what they need. As a result, the company retains ownership, and the team receives a morale boost thanks to their new equipment.

Many employees have pushed for remote working for years, and circumstances have dictated its adoption. It has also resulted in an unexpected test case, proving for many the viability of such an option. It is not easy, especially for businesses that have always done things a certain way. Still, the benefits will outweigh the challenges for most, and the switchover should be viewed as an opportunity.