PART 1: 10 Common Remote Work Challenges (Managing Projects and Remote Collaboration)
Studies have found remote workers are more productive, healthier, and enjoy a more positive work-life balance. The benefits for workers and businesses alike are driving a workplace revolution – one that has seen more than 33% of New Zealanders working from home at some point as their main job. A lot of studies have been conducted on remote working in recent years, listing the benefits for all involved.
Remote workers have been found to take fewer days off sick, stay motivated for longer, stay in their jobs for longer and prioritise their freedom over wage increases (saving on travel costs and other expenses helps in this regard, too).
Remote working sounds like the business revolution we all need but it’s not something you can simply switch to and hope for the best. As with anything, there are downsides to remote working and a number of challenges to overcome, as well. Thankfully, there are working strategies and tools every business can use to overcome these issues and enjoy the full benefits remote working has to offer. To demonstrate this in this article, we’re looking at 10 remote work challenges and how to overcome them.
Challenges for remote teams
Tracking tasks and productivity
Working from different locations, time zones, etc.
Dealing with language and cultural differences
Challenges for remote workers
Unplugging after work
Due to the absolute magnitude of information, we will focus on 2 of these issues in parts 1 to 5. So without further ado, let's dive into the first two - Managing Projects and Remote Collaboration
#1: Managing projects
The biggest challenge with remote working is managing projects when your team is spread out across multiple locations. Whether it’s a mix of in-house and remote staff or an entire team of remote workers, managers are responsible for making sure deadlines are met and targets are hit.
Without having a physical presence, communication is more difficult, and keeping track of individual tasks is problematic, especially for complex projects and large teams.
How to solve this problem
Thankfully, there are tools for just about every challenge a remote team manager could experience. Above all, you’re going to need some project management software to assign tasks and keep track of progress. There are plenty of options available for this but we have found Asana a great option for a few reasons:
Asana is a great all-in-one team management platform that gives you multiple project views to keep track of progress while its task management system is simple and intuitive. Tasks can be assigned/reassigned and team members can set progress statuses for everyone to see. It offers a greater depth of team management features, such as advanced permissions and dedicated pages for teams, and the ability to communicate at the task, project, and team levels.
#2: Remote collaboration
The most common challenge remote teams report in studies is collaborating from different locations. How can a team of designers work on the same project when they’re spread out across the country or world, for example?
When team members are in the same office, they can interact with documents, items, projects, and each other without any real limitations. However, remote teams are highly limited, and even interacting with the same document poses challenges.
The good is that, much like project management software, there are countless collaboration tools designed for all kinds of tasks and teams that will help you break down those remote co-working barriers.
How to solve this problem
The first thing you need for remote collaboration is an effective communication channel. Email simply doesn’t cut it for remote team communications. You need something instant, responsive, and flexible. Microsoft Teams has established itself as the go-to communication platform for remote teams – and for good reason. It provides all the basic features you need – instant messaging, availability statuses, notifications, file sharing, group chats, etc. – into an easy-to-use interface that comes standard with your Office365 subscription. In many ways, Microsoft Teams is the simplest collaboration tool for your team. For basic document collaboration, Onedrive will have you covered and things start to get a little more niche from here, depending on what you need. For more advanced business collaboration, Dropbox for Business (as discussed in Vol1) is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
For those design teams, tools like Canva makes collaborative efforts possible by allowing teams to work on a single design with realtime feedback and updates. Our design team uses Canva to create mockups, provide feedback, and test without any specialist design software. Another great collaborative tool is the team version of Spark (not to be confused with the telecoms operator in NZ), which allows multiple team members to collaborate on emails at the same time. When an email needs input from another team member or anyone is unsure about specific information that needs including, Spark’s collaborative email features mean the correct information always comes from the source – no misunderstandings.
This gives you an idea of how niche collaborative tools can be. Whatever collaborative challenges your team faces, there’s almost certainly more than one software option to help you overcome them.