In today’s world, technology drives everything we do. Companies and businesses are more commonly offering remote positions or allowing employees to work remotely part time. This has generated the need to have norms and tools and that allow managers to lead and team members to contribute to projects and make changes as necessary. However, even with modern technology at hand, you and your team could face difficulties in adapting to new protocols and procedures involved in remote work.
It’s important to understand that while remote work comes with various boons for your team, there are several issues individual team members will face. This can either affect their productivity, mental health, or technical capability, all resulting in lower productivity across the team. Hence, as managers to identify these issues and fix them needs a great deal of intelligence and competence. I have listed few of the issues virtual managers have to overcome in their daily business life:
Tech fatigue – With the need to do most of your work digitally where everyone can instantly have access to, tech excess forms one of the biggest headache to the manager. With a team of experts working across different tools, mixing out all the messages, notifications and updates they can, directed at you, staying in the loop can get exhausting. By not addressing this might cause the team’s productivity to take a significant hit since everyone’s spending more time trying to squabble through numerous screens / apps to manage their work, files, discussions, etc., while still trying to get their best work done.
Meeting fatigue – As you are responsible for aligning everyone else around the team’s mission, you need to plan and be a part of every meeting that happens with your core team, your leadership team and your clients / partners. When done well, they can serve as a platform for conveying knowledge, identifying challenges, brainstorming and ideating to move ahead or make the work done faster. On the other hand, meetings could end up being unproductive and take away time and resource from more productive activities and offer an excuse for a remote team to perform below its peak capacity.. For some people, the prolonged split in attention creates a perplexing sense of being drained while having accomplished nothing.
Team members’ Burnout – In an effort to stay highly-productive and competitive, members of a remote team may find themselves accepting larger workloads than they know they’re capable of. Unlike logging out from an office building which is an indication to switch off, some of your employees may not be able to mentally switch on – off their professional lives. Eventually, that often leads to mental and physical burnout. Some others will feel self-conscious or overstimulated, which might in short time turn into exhaustion. If not severe that takes a while to recover from. Burnout can be also an indicator of a toxic team environment or leadership style.
Divergent time zones and work schedules – One of the greatest advantage of working remotely is the freedom to choose own working schedule. As long as the targets are delivered within time range, it’s alright to move at one’s own speed. However, how to achieve consensus when team members are spread across various time zones and everyone works at their own pace? If this isn’t handled intelligently, it might damage the team’s collaboration and make it impossible to work together effectively.
Seclusion sets in – own living room. When psychological need of belongingness is not fulfilled , employees might feel isolated, ignored, lost. The more isolated they feel, the lower self-confidence or self-control becomes. Prolonged Remote working is an aggravating scenario. With the race to stay maximally productive across screens and the lost human-human connection, loneliness becomes a symptom and the mental health becomes less than relative.
As a global virtual team manager, you might need high levels of techno-socio-emotional capabilities and should be able to manage multi-cultural, multi-lingo, multi-geographies and multi-time zone member team. How to do it effectively? Well, that is the topic for the next article.
By Iulian Ionita