Understanding the Challenges of a Fully Remote Workforce


Fully remote workforces are growing – and it’s no surprise, given that the benefits are nearly endless. Companies can employ the best talent from all around the globe, reduce traditional office expenses, and provide employees a better work-life balance. However, enacting remote work-friendly policies takes time, executive buy-in, and careful preparation.

Unfortunately, the growing COVID-19 epidemic has forced global businesses to rethink many of their strategies, from finance and operations to facilities and HR policies (like remote work). We've previously published tips for remote workers to be more productive and focused, which you can share with your employees. Here are some additional challenges to consider if you’re preparing a remote work policy within your own organization – whether for a temporary emergency or its long-term benefits. 

1. Training a virtual team.

Getting remote workers onboarded, trained and up to speed requires a certain finesse. Without the luxury of learning through direct observations and everyday office interactions, remote workers require a tailored approach. Your success in this area will depend largely on how you choose to communicate. Email? IM? Weekly video check-ins? All are a great idea – but when unexpected working conditions arise, remember to have an honest discussion with your team around potential barriers and implement an approach that works for every individual.

For example, webinars (whether live or pre-recorded) let employees learn at their own pace, keeping them engaged – a key challenge in e-learning these days. Additionally, leveraging screen sharing capabilities in a tool like GoToMeeting minimizes confusion and makes hard-to-grasp concepts easier to digest for dispersed teams.

2. Defining a company culture.

Building a unique workplace culture is difficult when your team is located across the globe and in different time zones. Finding a common time where every single team member can come together for a meeting already presents a challenge. Imagine trying to bring everyone together to create the cohesion that comes from casual “water cooler” interactions without an actual physical space where everyone can meet.

As a solution, try leveraging modern telecommunications technology. Hosted VoIP systems or Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) platforms give companies the opportunity to stay in constant communication round the clock. This gives geographically-separated teams more options to connect with team members.

3. Prone to miscommunication.

Virtual teams must rely on email, messages and phone calls to communicate with colleagues. Tone and body language are therefore lost in the communication exchange, which can be important in terms of building rapport and establishing clarity. Without it, it’s easy for team members to take things out of context or misinterpret situations.

To address this, encourage your team members to always assume positive intent. Even when discourse isn’t going as smoothly as you’d like, never assume your colleague is being aggressive. This often shifts the conversation in a negative direction that can affect working relationships.

When working conditions are less than ideal, it becomes more and more vital to consider the impact remote work can have on organizational output. Thankfully, it’s nothing that a better perspective and the right technology solutions can’t address.

At GoTo, we're here to help empower your employees with the freedom and peace of mind to work wherever work takes them. If you want to explore how we can help improve your remote workforce efficiency and productivity, please get in touch today, or learn more at gotomeeting.com/work-remote.