Current Challenges for Remote Teams

Nineteen months into the pivot to remote work and teams around the world are still adapting and strengthening remote work policies—many of which were put in place what seemed like overnight. Testing different methods along the way has become a cultural priority, along with learning and adapting through ongoing strategic planning.

Here are some of the biggest challenges managers currently face regarding remote and hybrid work.

Remote-First Onboarding
Our People & Payroll team first reported this in our Best Practices for Remote Onboarding article. An important part of the employee experience and a company’s bottom line, Glassdoor reports new hire retention can be improved by up to 82% with proper onboarding.

The interesting thing about remote onboarding is that it can make it easier to develop a company-wide program for bringing in new employees. A more unified and streamlined process is easier to accomplish if you are using remote and virtual materials. This is especially true for companies that have offices in multiple geographic locations.

How to Get Started:
Consider starting one-by-one and implementing or re-visiting the following areas of your organization’s culture.

  • Set up regular 1:1’s
    Make sure that each manager in the organization follows established guidelines for the consistency of 1:1’s among their new team members. How often should a manager meet with a new employee? Perhaps that should vary based on different departments and different roles, but make sure that each manager is trained to strategically plan, prioritize, and consider their meetings with new hires.
  • A User Manuel could be created by managers so that new remote employees can quickly learn the manager’s style and expectations.
  • Set up a calendar for the employee to virtually meet people in cross-functional teams so that they will be better prepared to collaborate across the organization, depending on the goals and expectations of his or her individual position.
  • 30/60/90-day goals: Operating remotely is challenging, especially when an employee is new to an organization. To help employees not only hit goals, but feel acknowledged that they are hitting those goals, set targets every 30-days for the first three months with regular follow-up meetings to go over those successes and potentially what may need to be improved upon.
  • Communicate solid plans with other team members on how this new hire will be introduced into the organization. There is really no room for vagueness among a new hire’s co-workers on what they will be doing within the organization. Make sure to hire specifically for specific roles and duties and to communicate those roles and duties consistently to everyone across the organization, rather than relying on assumptions and miscommunication.

Taking It Further
An archived set of trainings along with a schedule of regularly hosted Zoom trainings conducted by each department—for all new hires on a month/quarterly basis is what we utilize at Papaya Global. This creates consistency and allows for a formal platform to integrate new employees. It also demonstrates a commitment to each new employee and showcases that our organization prioritizes making each new employee feel welcome.

First Day Impressions
If your budget permits and your new employee is working remotely, send them a welcome pack for their first day. It can be some company-branded swag or even a box of freshly delivered cupcakes, but a remote worker is bound to appreciate the effort, especially during uncertain times.

Revamped Compensation
Due to people working remotely, in many cases, everything from benefits and rewards—to compensation—has changed or is being proposed for change.

For example, you might remember earlier this year, when a survey came out that showed 65% of employees would be willing to take a pay cut to work from home. Then, Google rolled out a ‘pay calculator’ announcing there would be pay cuts for employees who work from home.

Of course, this sparked much controversy as working from home is typically more expensive for employees who deal with increased costs, including everything from internet to electricity—and office equipment.

Home Office Stipend
To further help employees, some companies have implemented a home office stipend. This can include everything from basic office necessities like pens and paper—to larger items, including a desk and an ergonomic chair. Some companies also offer to send employees company-owned monitors, while others opt to allow employees a flat fee to expense and/or claim various items per year. What is most effective for you will depend on your organization’s own budget and values. For example, is renting out monitors to employees effective because your turnover is low? Or is your turnover a bit higher and maybe you don’t want to have to deal with the actual costs and labor costs of shipping monitors across the country or world.

Increased Salaries for Remote Workers
In contrast to decreasing salaries for those who work remotely, some companies have closed their offices all together and with less costs from having an actual building, they are now increasing salaries.

New Incentives/Hybrid Options
In a recent interview with People & Payroll, Sara Schrage spoke about offering different benefits packages for remote workforce, based on employee needs and preferences. For the group of people who enjoy working from, a housekeeping service was offered as a perk. But for those who had trouble working from home, an allowance for a shared working space was provided.

Manager Development & Training + Remote Performance Management
As more teams are working remotely or in a hybrid format, making sure your organization’s management teams have proper training on how to manage remotely is also extremely important. Some solid advice on this topic is available in our previous post which outlines consultant Shelby Wolpa’s Remote Performance Management tips. It’s also important to realize that remote management may not come as easy to even the most seasoned professional…who has been managing employees in person for decades. Everything from communicating, tracking work regularly, a changing culture, scheduling difficulties, building trust, and maintaining morale—can present challenges.

Communication & Collaboration Tools
Now further engrained in a company’s culture are decisions about which communication tools should be streamlined throughout the organization. Zoom vs. Microsoft Teams…or Slack vs. WhatsApp. Whichever you decide, simply make sure that everyone has access, and that policies and guidelines are set, communicated, and executed for each platform.

In addition to selecting the right tools, also consider the following:

  • Set communication objectives at the company level, team, and individual level
  • Have a clear process to define key projects, outline timelines, and major milestones
  • Implement regular team meetings for status updates on progress toward goals
  • Also use 1:1 meetings to establish trust and stay in sync regarding work progress

Ongoing Trends
We recognize these are just some of the issues you may face as we navigate a virtual remote workforce and in some cases a move more toward a hybrid work culture.

Overall, issues surrounding working remotely are expected to be a heavily debated issue through the remainder of this year, and future years, as surveys indicate 43% of workers currently expect organizations to offer remote work after the pandemic ends.

Want to discuss more ideas? Log into our private, exclusive members-only community group and gain advice and share knowledge with industry peers.

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