Needless to say, a remote job gives you ample avenues to increase your productivity if you maximize the opportunities that this setting provides. In a recent survey conducted by Flexjobs, 55% of employees who worked remotely during the coronavirus pandemic period recorded an increase in productivity. The statistics clearly suggest that people have the capacity not only to adapt to the new normal but also to build a steady career in a remote work environment.
There is no doubt that working remotely gives room for individuals to grow at their own pace, be self-motivated, and exercise self-leadership under minimal supervision. Furthermore, lost hours spent commuting to and fro the office are effectively converted into productive periods which can boost performance significantly. However, despite the positive effects and obvious benefits working remotely presents, there are factors that can hinder productivity for an employee in a remote job.
These factors that can hinder productivity have been largely belittled in certain quarters by managers or employers of remote workers. The reason for low awareness about these factors emanates from the fact that many managers, employers and employees basically judge performance superficially. Due to minimal direct physical supervision, some employees may find themselves falling into the temptation of “cooking up” or doctoring their performance reports. This is more evident in organizations that have below-par performance parameters for assessing employees. Therefore, these under listed factors that can hinder productivity in your remote work should be taken seriously.
#1 Factor That Can Hinder Productivity in A Remote Job: Virtual Communication Issues
Whether verbalized or not, a lot of employees in a remote work setup face challenges when trying to collaborate virtually with their teams. These challenges, which are mostly related to communication, are major factors that can hinder productivity. Without a solid collaboration with your team, your productivity and that of your team stand to suffer greatly leading to overall poor performance. Here are some of the factors that can hinder productivity for employees working remotely as it relates to collaboration and communication matters.
The normal ethics in communication that are regarded as sacrosanct in physical collaborations should also be held dearly in virtual collaborations. This would facilitate effective and meaningful communication within a team. Therefore, nothing should hamper the flow of communication even in a remote work environment; it should flow freely.
However, according to the survey carried out by Flexjobs, about 20% of employees who work remotely find it hard to ask questions, or politely interrupt during video conference calls. Your productivity is tied to how effectively you communicate with others and receive relevant information. What may work for those facing this challenge would be for the team lead or the coordinator of a virtual call to be thorough in engaging participants. Largely, this method helps to eliminate this factor that can hinder productivity.
Asynchronous Channels of Communication
Having to work in an environment where most things are done online or virtually can pose certain challenges that one does not encounter when working in a traditional office setup. In a high-performing organization, usually, complex ideas and information need to get across many quarters effectively. Most times, doing this collaboratively and physically apparently gets the work done. Basically, one of the reasons is that everyone receives the same information and arrives at an agreement at the same time, within the same physical space. In other words, the collaboration is synchronous.
However, studies have shown that remote workers tend to use more asynchronous channels of communication, like emails, to pass across similar complex ideas among their teams. Certainly, this could pose real challenges for team members. It may be more pronounced among team members living in different time zones from the sender, especially when such information is important and time-sensitive.
There are virtual synchronous channels of communication like Microsoft Team, Zoom, Trello etc.
See our article on remote work tools here for more details.
It is important to avert the impact of these factors that can hinder productivity in order to improve your performance and that of your team by choosing the appropriate channels for communication when collaborating on assigned tasks.
Non-Verbal Communication Challenges
A lot of employees who work remotely cannot decipher non-verbal cues during online meetings like conference calls. This will certainly have some form of impact on how well they relate with colleagues. Sadly, remote environments limit or completely eliminate in-person communication. This is a major factor that is important in understanding non-verbal communication cues which is a key ingredient in creating rapport among teams.
In-person meetings also aid in effectively sharing knowledge and ideas as noted earlier. Therefore, team leaders, managers and employers should intentionally take steps to encourage one-on-one engagement among team members, though virtual, to facilitate proper and effective bonding within teams that work remotely. Where practicable, teams can meet physically occasionally to enhance communication and build stronger rapport.
#2 Factor That Can Hinder Productivity in A Remote Job: Punctuality
Some employees find themselves joining collaborative interactive virtual meetings late, sometimes, due to no fault of theirs. There are factors other than the employee’s poor time planning or reluctance that can lead to this. One of these is software technical issues and/or digital connectivity problems. Device-software (or app) incompatibility challenges associated with a recent software (or app) update is a key example.
Similarly, a sudden interruption of one’s internet connection (especially in developing countries) is something one may not anticipate. Eliminating these issues proactively is the only way to navigate through them. Otherwise, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with your work performance. These pose as hindrances to information reaching you and may stagnate your growth in a remote job. Some practical solutions include using a good time scheduler software like World Time Buddy, setting up or joining virtual meetings using two devices and having at least two internet service providers.
#3 Factor That Can Hinder Productivity in A Remote Job: Impact on Mental Health
Some studies have shown that the mental health of employees who work remotely and live with elderly relatives or young children may decline. Family responsibilities being handled by such employees may take a toll on their mental well-being and finances. Based on a longitudinal study in the UK during the wake of the coronal virus pandemic when most employees worked remotely, research revealed that mental health issues increased by 8.1% in April 2020 as compared to the record between 2017 and 2019. However, this may have been due to the anxiety associated with the pandemic. It is also plausible to conclude that reduced physical human interaction plays a vital role in the negative impact on mental health.
#4 Factor That Can Hinder Productivity in A Remote Job: The Case for Unplugging
It is paramount that boundaries between working hours and personal time be clearly defined. One of the challenges that employees working in a remote job environment face is not knowing when to stop working, and it is one of the major factors that can hinder productivity. Consequently, to be effective and productive in your remote work, you and your team members need to be able to balance your personal and work life. Inability to achieve this may also pose a hindrance to your personal life and growth.
Everyone needs time to unwind by having personal leisure time. This does not only spur personal productivity and growth, but also has a positive impact on your work productivity and therefore, performance. As much as possible, avoid burnout by setting specific times to unplug. If you are an employer, manager or team leader, ensure this is part of your routines for your subordinates and for yourself as well. Fresh ideas can flood in during moments of relaxation, and not when you have driven yourself hard to the brink of exhaustion.
#5 Factor That Can Hinder Productivity in A Remote Job: Distractions
Distraction is a major factor that can hinder productivity in a remote job. In the age of social media and devices that pop up unsolicited adverts, a lot of discipline is required to stay focused on your remote work. Furthermore, personal challenges and environmental situations seemly beyond one's control may also be sources of distractions. As much as it lies with you, it is your duty to shut down all forms of distraction during your designated work hours.
One of the ways to minimize distractions is by setting up a workstation. Get a space dedicated for work. Doing this may have a psychological impact on you, focusing on assigned tasks and thereby enhancing your concentration. This may not be feasible or suitable for everyone. Nevertheless, the idea is to create an environment that eliminates distractions as much as possible to enhance your work productivity.
There are remote workers that cater for elderly relatives or for minors. When planning is poor or inadequate, this could turn out to be a factor that can hinder productivity for an employee. This can also wear the employee out. Planning ahead on how to meet these needs and the demand of work is key in sailing through this situation. Effective and practical planning is very vital.
Finally, bear in mind that distractions fuel procrastination (of tasks) which in turn thwarts productivity. Therefore, not being able to handle this situation shows your inability to be self-motivated, develop self-leadership skills and cultivate a sense of self-discipline. The absence of these leadership skills will hinder productivity and hamper one's chances of becoming outstanding in a remote job environment.
#6 Factor That Can Hinder Productivity in A Remote Job: Priority and Supervision Matters
In a remote work setting, your work is under less supervision compared to when you do not work remotely. It is essential to place the right priority on what needs to be done per time. Similarly, you should allocate appropriate time to all assigned tasks or projects. Set your work in order of priority for maximum productivity.
There are dynamics involved with being supervised when you work remotely that may be factors that can hinder your productivity. First, there are no physical clock-ins or check-ins for office resumption. Similarly, some tasks may be hard to report objectively without being doctored somewhat. This makes self-leadership crucial for high performance in a remote work setting. The ability to drive oneself to productivity and work well with less supervision are key considerations for remote job employers as these are important ingredients to high performance.
In conclusion, it is vital to note that, these factors that can hinder productivity in a remote job environment, which have been noted, can be mitigated. If you and your team apply the proper checks and balances required, you would be able to minimize the impact of these impediments.