Common Challenges Companies Face When Adopting Remote Work

06/04/2020  — by Will Elton

Working remotely has been rising in popularity over the past few years. The distributed work arrangement is fast becoming the norm today.

Currently, companies across Asia, and in most developed economies, are adopting what is now being touted as the “biggest work-from-home experiment”. The spread of the coronavirus has put many cities and even whole nations in lockdown. Businesses are now urged to shift to flexible working arrangements to promote “social distancing”. These arrangements are believed to be effective in “flattening the curve” and halting COVID-19 from spreading further.

While remote work has numerous benefits, organisations that are not fully prepared to implement it might face unavoidable friction. So, if your business is considering remote working arrangements, here are some of the most common challenges that you might encounter.

Internet Connectivity

It might sound obvious but work from home arrangements increase your daily work’s dependence on internet speed and quality. This is especially important today as some service providers might not be ready for the deluge in traffic from entire cities working remotely. In China alone,Ciscodetails how the traffic of its WebEx video conferencing service has increased 22 times since the outbreak. Making sure your employees’ connectivity is on par with your expectations is one of the things you may have to consider right now.

Fragmented Communication

Communication is one of the biggest challenges in any flexible working arrangement. The risk of miscommunication over typed messages is much higher than with meetings in person. Fortunately, collaborative apps like Microsoft’s Teams, Zoom, Google, and Slack have offered many of their services for free amid the crisis. These applications have the essential and integrated tools you will need including messaging, project management, video conferencing, and webinars support. The key tenets to communicating effectively in work from home arrangements, however, are reaching out, being professional and positive, and listening more intently.

Distractions Abound

Productivity may be hard to measure when working at a distance. This is especially true when outputs are collaborative. It may be even more difficult to get work done when you’re distracted while at home. Verizon Connect suggests a number of ways for employees to stay productive, wherever they are. One interesting tip they give is switching to airplane mode when working to minimise distractions. It takes an average person about 23 minutes to get back to peak productivity after being distracted. Doing away with phones while working can drastically improve productivity.

Data Security Challenges

This is especially challenging for those handling sensitive data or proprietary software. Employees’ own computers do not have the same protections as the devices they use at work. And when working remotely, there’s also the reduced capability of monitoring them. Fast Company lists some of the things you can implement. These include using a Virtual Private Network, Two-Factor Authentication, and other software to enhance monitoring. You can also move your files to the cloud with apps like Zegal to ensure you always have a copy. What is crucial, however, is enforcing more stringent policies in regulating employees’ access to sensitive data and information. In addition, you must devise a contingency plan in the case of a data breach.

Technology firms and digitally-transformed companies will have an edge in switching to a flexible work arrangement. But many more traditional organisations will also find it comes with benefits. In fact, The Guardian estimates that workers and employers alike might not want to switch back fully, even after the pandemic subsides. Whatever the case, being able to adapt to the challenges of working from home is a great indicator of your company’s health and agility.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

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READ MORE: Secret Metadata: Beware Before You Share

FURTHER READING: UK Employer Guidelines During Coronavirus

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