Article

Four home working challenges and how to solve them

With more and simpler access to the communications technology and services that enable home working, enterprises are allowing flexible working between the office and home to a greater number of employees. In fact, it’s more likely than ever before that more of your employees will be spending at least a portion of time working from home, rather than deskbound in the office.

This means that you’re tasked with making them as productive and available at home as they are in the office. Many still find that some issues and challenges arise when employees are not physically in the office, working at their desks, but these issues are far from insurmountable.

Here Stephen Wright explains how four typical challenges surrounding home working can be easily rectified:

1. Issues with using new tools for ‘ad-hoc’ communications, especially video calls or conferencing.

Maintaining inclusiveness within teams can be challenging when employees are split between the office and their homes. Phone calls alone are simply not enough. Ad-hoc video communication needs to be a priority for enterprises, allowing remote employees to feel more included in discussions. The advantage to video calls is that gestures and body language are visible, adding further layers and better context to discussions – a benefit which shouldn’t be underestimated. Therefore, virtual ‘face-to-face’ conversations need to become common practice in terms of culture, and just as easy as reaching for the phone in terms of technology.

2. Ensuring that those remaining in the office are motivated and efficiently managed.

Sitting in an empty office can be very demotivating. Whether you’re working together in an office, or disparate across multiple locations, efforts always need to be made within teams to ensure everyone is always up to date. But when spread over multiple locations, time as a team needs to be specifically allocated, whether in the form of video calling, or using online messenger tools to brain-storm or collaborate.

The process needs to be coherent and manageable from both the desks in the office and the ones at home. Face-to-face meetings are still an important option, and getting people together needs to be part of the overall mix.

3. Making sure remote working doesn’t hinder access to the team.

Satisfying the client is key. Clients should not feel that home working is impacting on the level or quality of service they’re receiving from their supplier or Account Manager.

The ability to share all relevant feedback and being able to contact all account members is essential for a strong relationship – for which technology is the crucial enabler. Cloud tools such as Google Docs and SharePoint allow for online productivity amongst teams and their clients, but without proper training these platforms can actually hinder rather than help. Understanding whether the chosen technology is suitable for the whole team is essential - usability issues could arise and lead to people using tools in conflicting ways. Therefore, uniform training is crucial for team success – on both sides of the client-supplier relationship.

4. Losing ‘water cooler moments’ and the advantages of face-to-face discussions.

Scheduled conference calls often deal effectively with specific agenda issues but rarely produce “water cooler moments” - while ‘face-to-face’ leads to sub-subjects being brought up, adding productivity in a natural setting.

Water cooler moments can be created virtually, but office workers have to stop relying heavily on email. General catch up sessions via video or enterprise social media (i.e. Jabber or Yammer) open up opportunities to relax and create organic team ideas. In essence, ad-hoc communications must be sufficient for teams and their clients to benefit from both the traditional and more modern ways of working.

What next?

If you’re looking to create a working environment, where your employees are connected and effective wherever they are – talk to us about out UC and mobility services.