Remote Teams

Navigating the Upside Down of Remote Work and Why Companies Fail at It

February 24, 2023
IN THIS BLOG

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for Stranger Things (we at timegram may or may not judge you for not binging on it already). 

Let’s use the time-turner of our imagination and go back to the lockdown era when corporate work had to be shifted to remote. This strange and unfamiliar world of online meetings and working from home was a 180-degree flip from the norm, just like the Upside Down from Stranger Things.

And exactly like the Upside Down, it was horrifyingly chaotic.

Many physical businesses had to shut down, while others had to conduct all their processes remotely to stay afloat. Needless to say, there was much experimentation with many failures as everyone around the world went through this for the very first time. 

But smart companies quickly learned from their mistakes, communicated the issues with their employees, and created processes that ran seamlessly for them in the remote system. 

Sadly, even years after the pandemic, remote work is failing employees for some companies. Why? Because they’re not as adaptable as Steve and the team.

They can take on any vermin from the Upside Down with the sheer force of will (pun intended).

No, seriously. 

The reason why so many businesses continue to fail at managing remote teams is that they cannot seem to let go of what they still think is important—instead of what works. Essentially, they are the Dr. Martin Brenners of the corporate world.

Dr. Brennar looks down on everyone with different ideas than his. Don’t be like Dr. Brennar.

No, this does not mean trying to do things your way is wrong. Sure, you may question if remote working is a productivity killer and implement measures you see fit to improve efficiency. But if you’re only basing your decisions on assumptions, bias, and false reasoning instead of talking to your employees, this is a quick recipe for your remote work failing employees. And when this happens, the overall productivity and company culture takes a nosedive into the mud. 

You don’t want that, do you? So let’s dive into the top mistakes you should avoid. 

3 Reasons Why Remote is a Failure for You and Tips to Overcome It

In the post-pandemic world, remote and hybrid work has gained a strong foothold, and it’s not going anywhere soon. Research shows 92% of employees want either a permanent remote or permanent hybrid solution instead of on-premise. So, there’s no chance but to face the demogorg—sorry, the truth is that permanent on-site days are over, and that you need to set proper systems in place for remote and hybrid work.

The truth is ugly and difficult to face (although not as fatal as pictured).

Well, now that you’re (hopefully) ready to look into the mistakes you’re making and learn how to overcome them, let’s dig in!

1. You’re Forcing the Wrong Shape in Your Jigsaw

If you have a team that’s shown to be highly productive when working fully remotely or fully on site, you can skip to the next point. But if you’re trying to force people into either category without checking that they clearly prefer the other, things will turn from bad to worse to just beyond hope before you can even say Vecna. 

Some people (*cough* introverts *cough*) are truly unstoppable when working independently in the comfort of their homes. Others, especially Gen Z, prefer some level of personal interaction. 

A survey revealed around 58% of employees in this age group preferred spending some time with their colleagues face-to-face. So, as it turns out, a workplace setting that is fully remote is failing Gen Z employees. You will most likely have a mix of remote-favoring and on-site-favoring individuals, which makes a hybrid workplace an excellent option. But how do you get to the solution?

How Do You Overcome This?

i. Ask questions

Take a survey. Identify when your employees are the most productive and offer them a workable solution. If you’re only working on assumptions, you’ll be working blind, and there’s no one to blame but you.

Pictured: You in the scenario above
ii. Choose the right system and employees

Once you have a setup that works with your team, make sure you hire employees who work great in the system you have in place. For instance, if your company is fully remote, hire employees who are great at working from home so they can fit seamlessly into the processes you’ve set up.

If you only hire employees who are excellent at what they do instead of checking where they’re most productive, you will face major bottlenecks later.

Pictured: Jigsaw of the wrong team of employees vs. the right one.

2. You’re Trying too Hard to Maintain Control

Now, businesses for whom remote work is failing employees often try to propagate their ideals as the only way forward instead of figuring out what is working and what is not. This—unsurprisingly—results in a decline in employee well-being and an increase in churn rate. 

Much of this stems from the fact that the whole on-premise system got uprooted quite suddenly. Getting used to the remote workspace brought about a major shift, but executives resisted because they:

  • didn’t want to let go of the old methods
  • were uncomfortable with the whole virtual environment
  • were certain that their employees would cheat on work

Sadly, this attitude allowed for a lot of micromanagement issues to seep in. If you’re in the same boat, trying too hard to maintain control by putting excessive pressure on your teams in the form of bad processes and too many meetings, this remote is failing employees for you. 

How Do You Overcome This?

Don’t be Dr. Brennar

You thought I was done with the Stranger Things references, didn’t you? Hah! Gotcha!

Pictured: High-res reaction of the author

Let me get it all out of my system. This is why you should not be Dr. Martin Brennar, aka Papa:

  • Lack of communication and transparency: Dr. Brenner kept critical information hidden from his team and others, contributing to poor decision-making and ultimately putting everyone in danger. Clear communication is a must-have in a virtual setting, where the chances are already high for misunderstandings.
  • Overbearing management style: Dr. Brenner’s micromanagement and obsession with control contributed to his arguably sad fall. If you’re doing the same, it will lead to employee stress, burnout, and low morale.
  • Inadequate training and support: “Papa” threw his subjects into dangerous situations without proper training or support, leading to disastrous—and fatal—results. If you follow the same route, you might destroy employee spirit and end up ruining what you’ve been working so hard for!
  • Ignoring employee concerns: Dr. Brenner dismissed the concerns of his subjects and team members, leading to distrust and resentment. Your employees will return what you give, so be careful what you dish out. 

Instead of trying to control your employees, it’s better if you:

  • trust them to do the job you hired them to do
  • empower them with the right training, tools, and systems to simplify their process, and 
  • give them flexibility at work without doing away with accountability. 

For more details on the hows, read: Top Productivity Tips To Help Remote Employees Deliver Quality Results

3. You’re Not Using the Right Tools

One of the biggest reasons why working remote is failing employees is not using the right tools to track progress and performance. As a company, you are responsible for identifying employee needs and providing them with the right solution. 

Sadly, most managers might incorrectly consider some of the biggest productivity-draining features in an employee monitoring tool to be positive, such as:

  • Screenshot-taking
  • Keystroke-logging
  • Webcam shots
  • Access to calls, messages, and emails

In reality, these features do more harm than good. They leak productive time and build distrust and discomfort within your team. Moreover, they are easy to cheat! For instance, the pandemic work-from-home saw numerous instances of people using mouse movers to ensure their active status.

If you’re stressing out your employees and forcing them to look for increasingly creative workarounds, you’re essentially taking away the time they can put into their tasks or rest to get back to the said tasks with more gusto. 

And now that such tools (bossware) and their consequences have become increasingly apparent, there’s more trouble than just dropping productivity.

There’s something worse than THIS? Yes. Yes, there is.

If you’re still hell-bent on using bossware, get ready to be dragged to court and lose for privacy breaches, along with the drop in your overall workplace efficiency. 

How Do You Overcome This?

Since you’re already on our website, the answer is pretty obvious:

timegram

Well, shameless call-to-action aside, our customers genuinely appreciate our privacy-first, employee-empowering tracking system that allows you to track and help improve your team’s productivity without resorting to shady means.

timegram uses the Highlights app to remember employee activity for them and quickly categorize work done into relevant app blocks. And because all this information is private to each user in the company, employees can choose to only log the timestamps they choose to. It’s a win-win because your team won’t have to take extreme measures to hide those harmless social media visits during work, and you will get an accurate picture of the time it takes to work on a specific task. 

Armed with this data, your project leads can manage projects better and jump in to intervene and assist employees only when needed. To learn about the full set of features, read more here. And if you’re excited to take the tool for a spin, sign up for free!

FAQs

Does remote work hurt company culture?

Not really. If you translate your communication and interactions—both formal and informal—well into your virtual processes, then no, it doesn’t hurt company culture at all. 

Why are companies against remote work?

At timegram, we believe the companies against remote or hybrid systems are those who are set in their ways and want things to go back to what it was before the pandemic. 

What is the biggest problem with remote work?

The biggest problem with a virtual work environment is the lack of physical, face-to-face communication. If not addressed, it can quickly branch off into other issues like mismanagement, low employee morale and burnout, communication gaps, and more.

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Aelia Haider

About the author

Aelia Haider loves content, crafts, and everything crazy. You can usually find this magpie-in-a-human-shell running after something shiny—anything from new marketing tools and info to googly eyes (or a picture with a random parrot).

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