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5 Business Leaders on Their Remote Working Struggles

by jcp

Remote working has its pros and cons for both the employees and the employer. For employees, they don’t have to sit through a commute, and they’re saving some money on fuel. However, they could be lonely at home, and could be the type of person that thrives from being around others.

As for the employer, benefits could include selling up larger office space and using less electricity and water in the office, although there are several downsides too.

We spoke to a mix of four business professionals to find out what they think is some of the struggles of working from home permanently. 

  • Efficiency

Jade Thomas, Office Manager at Pure Property Finance:

“It’s so much more time consuming having to email a colleague a simple question, when realistically, in the office, it would take minutes to roll over and get an answer. I don’t think we realised how much we rely on each other until we weren’t by each other’s side. 

We use the likes of Slack and obviously video calls to catch up, but you can’t expect someone to spend time writing a response to you, especially if they’re cracking on with other bits of work.”

  • Not Understanding Personality Types

Gemma Banks, HR Business Partner at Connect Assist, says:

“When you’re around someone a lot, it’s easy to see how they best work and communicate. This will help you understand how to talk to someone, how to manage someone and how to best approach a topic. Some are more sensitive than others, and some love a challenge more than others. 

Remote working will of course mean that you’re not around that person enough to adapt to their way or working. Which makes it much more difficult to recognise body language and changes in behaviours that indicate where an employee needs a deeper level of support. 

Something we’re always mindful of is making sure that staff have a work life balance. Remote working can make it difficult for employees to separate work and home, especially so for employees that work in a highly emotive work environment such as front-line advisors. 

Training such as resilience training and coping mechanisms can be vital in these situations. They help provide practical solutions for employees to mark the end of their shift, such as going for a walk or packing their computer away can help maintain balance. 

There may be members of staff that don’t need to speak much on a day-to-day basis, but when they do need to communicate, it’s important that they both leave the conversation unhurt, without taking anything to heart, and also getting the most from it that they can.” 

  • Lack of Team Bonding

Ryan Walton, Founder of Aura Ads, says:

“We love a bit of office chit-chat. Whilst we are a productive team, we also love to take the occasional five minutes to chat about what we watched on TV last night, or what we had for dinner. I think these small conversations do help bring the team closer together, and that’s something that remote working can’t offer, unfortunately. 

Over the course of the pandemic, we would still have regular video catch-ups, but they aren’t quite the same as being able to blurt out your thoughts throughout the day. As creatives this is something that really helps to gel the team together and was sorely missed during the pandemic.”

  • Staff Feel Overworked

Gareth Morgan, CEO of Foundation, says:

At the beginning of the pandemic, many employees that were saying they found it difficult to switch off. We offer flexible working, so members of staff only have to be in during the core hours of 10-4, and can start before then, or finish after that time then as long as they do their weekly hours. However, often I’d come into work and see messages from some members of staff past 9pm, which was silly because we strongly encourage free time and enjoying evenings. 

We’ve put a ban on lunchtime calls in place, to encourage members of staff to take full lunches, and we’ve also sent out numerous emails to remind employees that they’re not needed past 6pm and to enjoy the lighter evenings while we can. 

Encouraging late working and skipping lunches can only result in staff burn out which could eventually lead to employees needing time off for stress. It’s important that team members leave their work in one room and enjoy their free time in another. This is why home-offices are so important!”

  • Missing Their Commute

Scott Jones, Managing Director of Illustrate Digital, says:

“Many people see the morning commute as dread and horror, but for some people, it’s chance to reflect on their day, to listen to their favourite podcasts and hear the morning news on the radio. Walkers miss out on their chance of not only that, but also chance to enjoy the fresh air and get some steps in. At Illustrate Digital, we encourage people to still take their morning commute, even though they’re not going to work. 

So, we encourage employees to get out for 20 minutes or so before work, and then get out as much as they can in the evenings. There may be some days, with remote working, where it would be easy not to leave the house at all – flexibility in working hours really helps with this. We encourage our team to get out when the surf is good and return to the desk to code, design or write emails when it’s cold and raining.”

On the other hand, the New York Times has compiled a list of the benefits of remote working. This includes an increase in productivity and also saving money on transport. So, remote working isn’t all bad, the same as office working, but it does depend on factors such as how you get to work and how far the office base is, and whether you thrive more being around people or by yourself.

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