Since having to work from home, these are the most common difficulties most of us are facing

Not being able to communicate with employees in person does cause some employers to worry whether enough work is being done during the day. There is a perception that remote work is less productive than work being done in the office, however, research suggests that exactly the opposite is true. On the other hand, employees struggle with decreased managerial supervision and communication. There is also the feeling that remote managers do not understand their needs, and therefore are neither helpful nor supportive in task executions.

Our take on this:

At Brightive, we use an element from agile methodology which is daily stand ups. These calls are scheduled for the same time every day or every other day with a sole purpose of keeping everyone updated on progress and next action items. They give an opportunity to employees to discuss, raise questions and seek advice if needed. Agile methodology was created with speed and adaptability, also people in mind. To quote the Agile Manifesto “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.. Responding to change over following a plan”. You can read the whole manifesto here. Through using a combination of the right tools – daily meetings, regularly posting progress feedback in the team channel and mentioning blockers. Agile methodology can bring a lot of value to remote teams. Internally, at Brightive, we use tools such as MS Teams and Jira to make communication easier and friendlier. Both are versatile, intuitive and well-known, making them a popular choice for clients who are new to using such tools. However, we are accustomed to a wide range of tools depending on the client’s preference and organisational requirements (you can refer to our previous article to remote working tools here). Both are versatile, intuitive and well-known, making them a popular choice for clients who are new to using such tools.

Storing information is a mess (inability of people to co-ordinate their work)

Remote working is hard for people who are not used to it, people realise that now it takes them additional time and effort to locate information from co-workers. Getting answers to trivial and simple questions appear to be burdensome. Additionally, it is more likely to misunderstand the tone of messages and emails without knowing the current mood of the person who wrote it. Such situations might lead to unintentionally taking offence or thinking poorly of your co-worker’s professionalism.

Solution – provide several different communication technology options:

At times when all communication is made online, email alone is not enough. It is very important to have different channels to reach to one another. Quick questions are best done over instant messaging, however more nuanced conversations require video conferencing. This way, we all can pick up on each other’s body language and visual clues as if they were face-to-face. Video conferencing is very important at this moment to combat the sense of isolation among remote workers but more on that we touch upon in the next section. It is also especially useful for complex and sensitive conversations, as it is more personal than other types of remote communication.

Our take on this:

Here, at Brightive, our consultants rely predominantly on MS Teams and Skype for Business for internal communication, and Confluence and Jira to communicate with team members on the client side. Each one provides both chat and video options, some have graphic visualisations to convey more emotion and bring humour to the situation. We are benefiting from the full functionality of the MS Teams platform because we use Kanban Planner, simultaneous collaboration on documents and other integrated third-party applications. If you have any questions about those tools – you can refer to our more in-depth article on tools here.

Social isolation and distractions at work

Remote workers most common complaints are feeling of isolation and loneliness. It is difficult for humans who are social beings by nature to be removed from their environment without suffering any negative consequences. Unfortunately, isolation causes some employees to feel like they belong less to their organisation since they lack daily social interactions.

One of the more persistent myths around remote work is that it is less effective than working in a typical office since the latter are designed to be used as spaces for productivity. Pets, children, spouses and noisy neighbours are all factors contributing to distraction; however, they also remind our colleagues that everybody has a life outside of work and at this moment, staying safe at home is our only option.

Solution – facilitate your employees’ well-being:

In order to make the most out of the current global situation and make the transition to working remotely smoother, managers and organisations as a whole must make an effort to provide a healthy and comfortable working environment. This includes the provision of equipment, such as laptops, headsets, ergonomic keyboards, Wi-Fi adapters as not everyone working in those organisations will have adequate provisions at their disposal. Initiatives like virtual water coolers, video coffee or cocktail dates and informal channels of communication where everyone can let some steam off and talk to their colleagues as if they were in their office’s kitchen promotes a sense of belonging and normality, as well as beating the blues from staying at home for extended periods of time in isolation.

Our take on this:

Here at Brightive, we have started a weekly initiative that we have called E-peritivo, where we get together, turn on our cameras, pour a glass of wine, or beer, and for about an hour and a half we talk about everything and anything that is on our minds – apart from work. This group activity is reserved for leisure related conversations only, allowing us to unplug and decompress at the end of a long day. In addition to our video conference initiative, our senior management is making sure to carry out daily check-ups. They come in the form of joining team meetings, sending messages in our common channels and the creation of a tracker in which every employee logs their place of work and mood on a scale from 1 to 5 for the week. All those initiatives, as well as many more that are being created, are designed to keep our spirits up and demonstrate that we are all in this together.

There are many ways of working from home, you only need to experiment and find what works best for you and your organisation. Inquire about how Brightive can help implement online collaboration tools and facilitate your transition to remote working.