Overcoming the Challenges of Remote Working

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 01/06/2020
remote working challenges

The challenges of remote working can no longer be ignored. And so we wrote this article in hopes to help business owners and MDs overcome them. The hybrid model  is predicted to stay past the pandemic, permanently changing the way we work. Therefore optimising the business for remote working settings is in your best interests

The recent pandemic forced office-based teams in the UK into working remotely for many weeks. While schools are now open and shops were soon to follow, it is likely to take longer for offices to fully re-open. It’s particularly true for larger workspaces and office blocks where safety risks are still high. This has led to the creation of a hybrid work model most companies maintain to this day. A hybrid working approach is when a handful of employees work from the office, and the rest remain remote. Depending on the company policies, the people working on physical premises normally interchange.

At this point, your team might have settled into remote working, but that’s not to say it’s without its challenges. Over the weeks you may have experienced some potential issues with what you thought was the temporary setup. However, now that it’s likely a permanent change, it’s a good idea to get them out of the way for good. Believe it or not, most barriers to remote working can be easily overcome. And we’ll prove it to you in this article.

Challenges of Remote Working

Just like any working model, remote working comes with a set of challenges. Here are some of the key ones:

  • Time and productivity management 

  • Finding work-life balance

  • Procrastination and distraction

  • Lesser in-team communication

  • Increased risk of burnout

  • Lack of motivation to perform better

Naturally, there are other challenges but they tend to vary depending on the business, its objectives and culture. The ones we listed are the most common and the ones we have observed in our experience too. We won’t be digging deeper into all of them today, but only into the ones we have identified as the most problematic.

Biggest Concern - Decline in Productivity

Most companies wouldn’t offer the benefit of remote working prior to the pandemic fearing it would have a negative impact on productivity. It’s not an entirely irrational fear, especially if there was no prior attempt at this approach. However, most employees tend to improve their performance when working away. If anything, success or failure largely depends on the mentality of the staff and the overall office culture, alignment and communication.

The fear was reinforced at first. A small productivity dip has occurred when businesses, otherwise having never been run remotely, were forced to stick to home offices. This was expected to happen but was also rightfully forecasted to be a short-term consequence of an adjustment period. On the big part, the prediction was correct and the numbers went back up and even reached new heights once companies were able to embrace remote working. But if this doesn’t convince you to remain remote or hybrid, we will next dip deeper into common reservations to dismantle them. 

Key Challenges of Remote Working

At the first glance, working from home may sound like bliss. Instead of waking up early, getting oneself to look smart and spending time on the commute, you get to sleep in and work straight from your bed. However, things aren’t as dandy. In fact, remote working has more challenges than getting into the office would. Lack of motivation, being unable to unwind after work, endless distractions… And that’s to name a few. This article would get very long if we tried to analyse each, so let’s stick to the most common and troublesome issues. 

Struggling to Balance Work and Home Commitments

Remote working is notoriously more difficult for employees with families or busy households – it’s bound to hamper productivity. Although it may seem to be easier now that children are back at school, you shouldn’t dismiss cases of a worker needing to care for an ill relative or similar. If an employee has told you that they are finding it tough, or perhaps you’ve noticed in their work output, then work with them to find a solution. It’s important to be flexible. Explore the possibility of things like flexitime, split or reduced hours, or condensed working to help them strike that balance.

Flexible working won’t create an additional burden for you or your HR team. There’s plenty of software to shoulder it for you. For example, Timesheet Portal has an automated flexitime management function. It eliminates the need for complicated spreadsheets to manage your employee’s working hours. You can also make the most of its flexitime pool tracker, which will bank extra hours worked and then deduct them from their pool when they work less.

Lack of Communication

Communication is likely to have slipped a little during the lockdown. But it remains as important as ever. If it hasn’t improved since the work-from-home rules were imposed, you’re in trouble. To embrace remote working fully you must find a way to maintain a good level of communication with your team as well as individual employees.

If a particular member of staff has somewhat slipped off the radar, the first thing to do is speak with them. Check if they are coping well and if they need any additional support from you. Aside from that, you could:

  • set up a weekly catch-up meeting over the video, using it as an opportunity to discuss work and address any queries;

  • communicate the importance of communication;

  • nominate an employee each week to share what they’ve been working on and any tips for successful remote working;

  • set up online channels where employees can share tips, and talk about projects but also have general catch-ups.

In other words, try to rebuild the line of communication. The most effective way is to find digital alternatives to a physical office.

Optimising Business to Run Remotely

It’s very unlikely that businesses will ever go back to operating fully on-site. A hybrid approach has proven to be pretty effective as it offers a lot of flexibility. And, in fact, to most employees having remote working opportunities taken off the table would be a deal breaker. Many report they’d leave the job over it. With that in consideration, it’s evident that optimising the business to remote working is a worthwhile investment. 

Set Realistic Team and Individual Goals

Setting goals is really important as it gives us something to work towards and encourages us to manage our time accordingly. It also keeps us accountable, which some find motivating. Do your employees have set deliverables each week? If not, then set some together as this could really help. You should aim for the goals to be company-wide, team-wide and individual. Ultimately all of the smaller personal goals would feed into team goals, which would then contribute to achieving overall company ones.

Just make sure the goals are realistically achievable. Unrealistic goals can have the opposite effect. We also recommend using the SMART goal framework. It will allow you to easily track progress, identify roadblocks, and identify the workers who are underperforming. Goals are a powerful business tool as they create team alignment - something that’s incredibly important in the remote working environment. 

Discuss and Encourage Development

A lack of progression or opportunities to develop can take a hit on motivation and productivity, especially among the more aspirational employees. Be wary though, there are employees who are comfortable in their positions and don’t want to progress further in their careers - and this is fine. It all starts with asking the question: “Do you feel fulfilled with the work that you’re doing?” If their answer is “No”, you’re in trouble. It is then you need to start thinking about ways you can help them grow.

Speak with the employee about the skills they’d like to build on and how they see their role progressing. From there, it’s about identifying how you’re going to support them, pointing them in the direction of useful resources or even offering to cover course costs. You could also recommend they get a mentor and guide them in how to find a good one. This demonstrates that you’re an employer who invests in their people, which itself can be a real motivation booster. This could also help you build better rapport with employees that are mostly remote workers.

Bring the Team Together

Motivation might have slipped because team morale was lacking during the lockdown. To some, it may feel that it’s not getting restored, especially if remote working is the new normal. An employee might miss the social aspect and camaraderie of being with their colleagues. So, think of ways you can bring the team together – albeit digitally. Hold team quizzes (taking it in turns to be the host), arrange Friday night virtual drinks over Zoom, schedule a weekly lunch together, or get everyone involved in little activities like fitness goal competitions in teams. A bit of team spirit can work wonders in raising morale.

Collaboration and Communication Platforms

The importance of communication in a remote working environment stretches way past team building and entertainment. To truly embrace having a team that is as strong working from wherever as they’d be while sitting in the office, you need to ensure to also have channels that support teamwork and collaboration. Thankfully, the market is full of such solutions. They are known under the name of SaaS - Software-as-a-Service.

These software solutions are web-browser based and are therefore easily accessible across any device with internet connectivity. What’s more, they can be used by multiple users simultaneously, allowing working together on one document for several people in real-time. From tracking history to  exchanging commentary and streamlining task completion, SaaS technology is among the key musts for companies that wish to go remote. 


A not long time ago, remote working was a job perk many wished to have, yet very few were granted. Starting in 2020, working remotely became mandatory and therefore businesses that were not equipped for it have seen a few downfalls. However, as the months progressed, not only the most were capable to adjust, but it was also discovered that a mix of remote and on-site working, also known as hybrid, is quite beneficial to both businesses and the well-being of staff.

The future is hybrid. Therefore if you haven’t optimised your business to successfully run no matter the location, you risk falling behind. From employee retention to improved productivity, remote working proved to be nothing that it was stereotyped to be. It all depends on how prepared you and your staff are.  If you have the right communication channels, relevant software and solid processes - remote working is not something you should fear. It is something that will help your business grow.

Are you ready to greet remote working as part of your permanent strategy?  

Let us know, we have tips to share.

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.