5 new challenges that remote work creates and the ways to overcome them
Co-authored with Dr. Billy Vaughn.
Leaders and human resources managers are coping with the scale and impact of COVID-19 on the workplace. They are reminded of how precious life is and the significance of safeguarding employees’ health. This is the time to put people first to make certain that employees are safe and have the support they need to work through this unprecedented and challenging situation surrounding the outbreak.
To contain the spread of coronavirus, companies have implemented remote working practices. The “new normal“ reality of the virtual space, even if temporary, requires organizations and leaders to think out of the box. More people are talking about the transition from “Future of Work” to the “Now of Work”. We’ve never seen a change to manage disruption like this. Change is sweeping as rapidly as the pandemic itself, affecting the way employees work and engage. Few leaders and organizations were fully equipped to strategically plan for a workplace that is driven by remote work while simultaneously coping with a global pandemic.
The current atmosphere is forcing companies to find the right technological solutions to address prominent challenges in the company culture.
The new era requires adjustments that rely on innovative tools and methods for achieving business success during the changes that your company culture is going through. Leaders need to bootstrap their competence in managing remote teams overnight. Managers will need to embrace new tools and habits needed to help them better understand their employees’ needs and identify situations where employees feel they don’t belong among, or productively connect with their team members.
As we see it, there are 5 new challenges that remote work creates for the company culture:
- Mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in stress and anxiety among employees. Parents are working from home with uncertainty about what the future holds. They worry about their kids and family health and safety. Some are experiencing mental health issues, such as high anxiety. Leaders have to identify who requires more support and address the needs of their employees.
- Increase in aggressive behavior and unfair treatment — Both the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published findings that warn companies about an increase in aggressive behavior, discrimination and unfair treatment in the workplace due to poor coping with the pandemic. The fears are manifesting over the past few weeks as aggression towards Asians, and general xenophobia.
- Harder to track company culture. Human resource managers and company leaders can no longer rely on meeting employees in the hallways or engaging them in person to foster engagement. SA remote workforce makes it much harder to keep track of company culture and trends.
- Emerging challenges for managers and employees. Shifting to remote work raises new challenges. Most managers are not proficient in managing people remotely, which in many cases, requires a different set of competencies and embracing new tools. Working remotely can also be convenient for some employees, while others struggle in the new work environment. The question that the people team needs to address is how they can provide the right training, guidance or tools for the people that need them the most.
- A decrease in a sense of Belonging. As people don’t engage face-to-face, and there is a lot of uncertainty and confusion, employees’ belonging levels are being directly affected.
Taking into account all the recent challenges mentioned above, it’s now more important than ever to empower managers with the insights they need to manage their teams effectively in the “new normal” virtual space.
As we see it, the best way to address these challenges is by using solutions that leverage the power of technology to help leaders track team collaboration, connections, belonging and mental health. Managers will need to use additional virtual data sources to get a more accurate picture, especially communication analysis that has become more relevant as all communications transition online.
During the past few years, Dr. Billy Vaughn has been an advisor to Cassiopeia, a company that empowers leaders to foster an inclusive company culture by using communication analytics. Recently, in light of their customers’ needs facing COVID-19, Cassiopeia released a new data-driven solution that uses communication analysis, to get actionable insights for managers regarding their team collaboration, belonging and mental health. Together, we are offering a solution that is very effective and timely in meeting the current workplace engagement needs.
Cassiopeia’s “Remote Management Tool” sends weekly insights to managers. The reports empower remote managers with actionable insights to improve collaboration and foster a sense of belonging. (e.g., the average frequency of team meetings, parents’ unique experience and connectivity, work-life balance, employees sense of inclusion, and work overload). The Cassiopeia report also includes relevant recommendations and best practices that help managers track and improve teamwork and employee experience.
There is a positive takeaway. These new challenges can help companies grow and make them even stronger at the end of the day. Companies should be aware of these new challenges and use state-of-the-art relevant tools to help managers get the right insights, take action where it’s needed and make sure their teams are healthy and feel supported.