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10 Biggest Challenges of Working from Home

Jason Chow, November 1, 2021
challenges of working from home

Increasing trends towards remote work have resulted in quick improvisation on the part of both employers and employees. While offering some advantages, the challenges of working from home need to be tackled by both sides for greater effectiveness.

Employers need to develop inclusive strategies to counter everything from potentially low employee engagement to increased cybersecurity risks. The basis for this lies partially in understanding the challenges employees face.

Work From Home Problems Your Employees Might Encounter

1. Developing Blurred Work-Life Boundaries

Home has always been a sacred space away from public life. Many treat it as their sanctuary, and having a part of it invaded by work can be a culture shock to some. This sudden invasion can lead to blurred lines between work and personal life, thereby increasing stress levels.

These blurred boundaries can even manifest negative results in unusual areas. For example, working from home increases tendencies towards sedentary lifestyles. With blurred boundaries, employees may be afraid to even take time off for exercise.

Possible Solution: Employers must take the initiative in ensuring that their remote teams get dedicated “downtime.” Supervisors should avoid excessive communications outside working hours, especially for nonessential tasks.

2. Inadequate Practical Equipment

Employers often think of technical hardware and software equipment that employees need to fulfill their roles. However, less addressed are equally pressing concerns such as environment and workspace. 

Not every employee will have access to adequate space or even essential equipment like desk space and seating. It may be a bit far-fetched to consider, but it can increase the challenge of getting jobs done.

Possible Solution: Employers can consider equipment allowances outside core “work materials.” Remember that in the office, part of the budget goes towards infrastructure and furnishings. In work from home scenarios, consider channeling a portion of these funds towards employees in a structured manner.

3. Hovering Supervisors

One clear area of concern for remote workers is the lack of trust demonstrated by a fair number of employers. It’s resulted in many strange occurrences like mandatory live cam monitoring, increased reporting, or virtual timekeeping activities.

While some accountability implementation is fine, over-the-board monitoring breaks down unit cohesion and can quickly give rise to feelings of resentment.

Possible Solution: While some level of supervision is acceptable and necessary, careful thought needs to go into the employment of tools that aren’t overly intrusive. Employers can consider moving towards goal-oriented key performance indicators (KPIs).

4. Employee Isolation

Human beings are social animals, and working from home removes them from the traditional close interaction they get with colleagues. While some may appreciate the isolation, developing these habits isn’t typically healthy over prolonged periods.

Aside from the risk to mental well-being, employee isolation can also quickly lead to breakdowns in unit cohesion. The result may also lead to poor overall performance in specific areas resulting in unfair blame falling on some individuals.

Possible Solutions: Consider using group communication tools like Slack to allow employees to communicate even outside core meeting groups. They’d be able to form private channels and even utilize other communication facilities like voice or video calls. You can leverage team-building exercises aimed at helping foster greater cohesion among employees. One asset to consider is gamification, a strategy that helps achieve objectives more lightheartedly.

5. Resolving Technical Challenges

While some employers have technical staff capable of supporting remote workers, it isn’t something every organization can afford. In scenarios like this, employees may face significant technical challenges to overcome.

These aren’t necessarily as complex as hardware faults but can be as minor as a struggle to handle application functionality. With work from home mandating the rapid adoption of such tools, increasing challenges in this space can be daunting.

Possible Solution: As increased focus moves towards digital tools, even smaller organizations can ill afford to neglect technical support. For organizations that can’t justify full-time technical staff, consider outsourcing some of these tools to vendors.

Challenges of Remote Working for Employers

The challenges of remote working for employers are even higher than that of their employees. Aside from having to factor in challenges and solutions their employees face, you need to address strategic organizational challenges concurrently.

Some of these challenges will include;

6. Increased Cybersecurity Risk

Having a distributed workforce means everything moves in the digital space. It’s an area that is increasingly dangerous to both individuals and teams. The risk is even more pronounced as business teams access centralized resources like remote company servers.

Any cybersecurity incidents such as data loss can have disastrous consequences ranging from financial to reputational. 

Possible Solutions: Unfortunately, this is a multi-faceted dimension that needs a broad range of solutions to address. It also needs to be approached from two angles: the organization and individual employees. Each has unique cybersecurity needs, but these combine into the overall picture.

Consider the uptake of a comprehensive tool portfolio that includes Internet security applications, password managers, virtual private network (VPN) services, and more. These are relatively cheap and simple to use while significantly lowering your overall risk profile.

7. Mis-aligned Team Performance

One fundamental challenge that arises with working from home is the potential for misaligned performance. Realistically, this happens even in the office, but the risk increases with lower direct interaction between employees and supervisors.

The more significant challenge, though, is ensuring the correct levels of supervision and accountability without overly stressing employees in the process. However, it is crucial to understand that over-reliance on these tools can quickly cause chaos if not carefully overseen. 

Possible Solutions: The Cloud may be an overused term, but it’s the perfect solution for ensuring everyone stays on the same page. There are many Cloud-based solutions capable of resolving various areas of mismatching performance.

For example, consider using Cloud storage services and associated tools that allow multiple users to work on shared documents. Communications can be done on Cloud-based channels capable of supporting dedicated team channels to collaborate remotely, yet not overload individual teams with information.

8. Employee Loyalty and Retention

Climbing up the office ladder is something in which all employees tend to engage. The removal of shared workspaces lowers this potential, possibly leading to employees being concerned about lower visibility.

In some cases, remote work isolation can also lead to employees feeling less connected towards employers despite being valued members of the organization. These issues can potentially lead to high attrition rates even with the best work-life balance offered.

Possible Solution: Aside from close engagement with employees, careful thought needs to ensure their progression within organizations is not compromised. Make sure to communicate KPIs clearly and reward employees that are performing above and beyond expectations.

9. Remote Hiring

In almost all scenarios, high-level management prefers to meet potential hires in person before deciding to take them on board. However, remote work makes it more challenging. There’s much that a CV and voice call can’t impart, and the visual element is an essential aspect of the hiring process.

At the same time, failure to fill critical roles promptly can lead to systemic degradation in performance, even within teams.

Possible Solution:  While it isn’t ideal, there is much that a video call can do to improve the remote hiring process. Thought also needs to go into extended visual clues to identify high0-value potential hires. For example, the environment they prepare for the remote interview, their bearing, and of course, attitude.

10. Providing Emotional Support

Providing employees with the path forward and equipment is rarely enough for employers. Employers are engaged with employees for most of their waking lives and need to offer emotional support as part of the overall package.

Unfortunately, remote work makes this fundamentally more challenging. Small but vital tools like open-door policies can quickly go out the window. 

Possible Solution: Virtual implementation of such policies should replace the appropriate guidelines. Remember that a happy employee is a productive employee. Work from home makes things harder for everyone, and emotional support works both ways.

Overcoming Challenges of Working From Home 

It’s a common perception that employees will face the most remote work challenges, and these need to be addressed by employers. The reality, however, is that both sides face unique challenges, with employers facing the brunt of responsibility.

Understanding the challenges remote employees face is necessary for employers to work towards resolving potential issues. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, though. Careful consideration needs to go into individual solutions that will fit your company and culture.

The greatest asset in any scenario for remote work will be agility and the willingness to adapt the needed tools and quickly draw up practical guidelines based on what you observe works – or not.

Jason Chow

Jason Chow

Jason is a technology geek with extensive experience as an IT consultant, website developer, blogger, and Internet marketer. He has spent the last half-decade actively connecting a formidable network of companies, website owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs.