The challenges of remote working in the modern workplace

The Challenges of Remote Working (And Why Hybrid is Best)

September 29th, 2023

The rise of remote working has been both a revelation and a revolution. Whilst it offers an undeniable level of flexibility and convenience, it also comes with its own unique challenges. Some of these have been apparent from the outset, whilst others are only now starting to emerge.  From the complexities around onboarding new staff to reducing learning opportunities for junior team members, remote work poses several hurdles for both employees and their employers.

In this article, we explore these challenges further and share why the hybrid working model, coupled with flexible workspace solutions like WorkPad, represents the best of both worlds for business and employees alike.

The Challenges Of Remote Working

1. Prolonging Staff Onboarding

Bringing new team members into the fold can be a time-consuming process as it is, but even more so in a remote work environment. Meeting the entire team, building rapport, understanding the team dynamics and fostering a sense of belonging can take months, hindering the integration of new talent.

Imagine a scenario where a new hire joins a fully remote team. Despite their impressive qualifications and skills, their initial interactions are limited to virtual meetings and email exchanges. They lack the opportunity to engage in the casual hallway conversations or after-work gatherings that help build the camaraderie essential for a well-connected team.

But the challenges don’t stop there. In some instances, remote workers confess to having never met some of their colleagues, and in the most extreme cases, even their managers! This lack of physical presence can impede effective collaboration and relationship-building, making it harder for new team members to feel truly integrated into the organisation (ultimately leading to reduced staff retention).

2. Fewer Opportunities For Spontaneous Creativity

The absence of casual office interactions in remote work can be likened to a silent void where spontaneity and creativity once thrived. Without those impromptu discussions by the coffee machine, opportunities for collaborative idea generation tend to dwindle.

A casual conversation can spark a brilliant idea for a new project. The kind of idea that might never have emerged during a structured meeting but flourishes in the organic environment of the office. Virtual meetings in comparison tend to be much more structured and agenda-driven, leaving little room for the off-the-cuff discussions that can lead to ground-breaking concepts. The loss of these interactions can be deeply felt, especially in creative industries where innovation is paramount.

3. Reluctance To Do In-Person

Once teams become accustomed to working remotely, reintegration into the physical office space (even for one off meetings) can feel like an uphill challenge. Employees no longer see it as a perk, and thus can feel disgruntled at having to make the morning commute or miss their Amazon delivery. Companies therefore need to carefully balance the benefits of in-person interactions with the conveniences that remote work offers.

4. Communication Challenges

In remote work, written communication is the backbone of daily interaction. However, the absence of non-verbal cues can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. Building relationships becomes increasingly challenging when face-to-face interactions are so scarce.

Imagine this scenario: a colleague sends you an email, and as you read it, you find yourself uncertain about their tone. In the traditional office setting, resolving this ambiguity might involve a simple stroll to their desk, a quick chat, and the chance to gauge their mood through non-verbal cues.

But in the world of remote work, addressing such nuances can feel like navigating a complex labyrinth. Is it too formal to send a Zoom invite to discuss? How might the colleague perceive your own tone over email? These uncertainties can cast a shadow over professional relationships, making it easier for misunderstandings to fester and connections to deteriorate.

5. Fewer Learning Opportunities For Junior Staff

Younger staff members thrive on learning from their peers and senior colleagues, gaining invaluable experience along the way. Remote work can limit their exposure to these learning opportunities. They miss out on the chance to overhear valuable conversations among their seasoned colleagues and the ease at which they can seek support on a project from those sitting just a few desks away. Instead, the remote environment may necessitate more formal requests for assistance, potentially discouraging them from seeking help at all.

6. Home Distractions

The remote worker’s home often doubles as their office space, making it susceptible to domestic distractions. Doorbells, family members, pets or noisy neighbours can all disrupt the flow of concentration. Whilst the office isn’t completely distraction free, it does still offer a professional space where you’re more likely to get distracted on work related tasks (rather than hanging your washing out!).

7. Tech Reliance

Remote work is inherently technology-driven, and any technical glitches can derail productivity. An employee’s WiFi goes down and they lose a valuable day of work, compared to an office space with robust IT support and infrastructure, which reduces unexpected tech-related disruptions to a minimum.

8. Security Risks​​

Ensuring data security and cybersecurity can be more challenging when employees work outside the secure office environment, especially when dealing with sensitive customer data.

In a traditional office setting, IT departments have greater control over network security and can implement measures like firewalls and intrusion detection systems. In remote work, ensuring the same level of security becomes more complex. Companies must invest in robust cybersecurity training for remote workers, secure virtual private networks (VPNs), and endpoint security solutions to safeguard data.

9. Reduced Work-Life Balance

Balancing work and personal life is a considerable challenge for remote workers, especially those who transform their kitchen tables into makeshift desks. A dedicated workspace which they can physically leave at the end of the day enables employees to draw a clear line between their work and personal life, reducing stress and enhancing wellbeing.

10. Loneliness and Isolation

The absence of everyday in-person interactions can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection for employees, a prevalent issue for remote workers, impacting their mental health. Companies may need to invest in additional team-building activities, social events and even mental health services to help support their remote workers, which brings additional costs.

Isolated-employee-challenge-of-remote-working
Working from home can increase loneliness

11. Lack of Access to Resources

Remote workers may lack access to physical resources like company libraries and specialised equipment, potentially hindering their work.

Why Hybrid Working Is The Best of Both Worlds

Hybrid working, as the name suggests, represents the synthesis of two worlds—the flexibility of remote work and the collaborative spirit of the office. Here’s why we think it’s the optimal choice:

Maintain Flexibility

Hybrid work empowers employees to enjoy the benefits of remote work, such as reduced commuting times and the comfort of their preferred workspace, while also preserving the sense of belonging to a physical workplace.

Increased Collaboration

Hybrid setups offer the best of both worlds, promoting a culture of innovation and creative collaboration while maintaining the adaptability of remote work.

Better Communication

 Organising regular in-person meetings in the office can enhance communication, reduce misunderstandings, and strengthen team relationships.

Mentorship and Growth Opportunities

 Younger staff members still have opportunities to learn from their peers and senior colleagues during in-person office days.

Work-Life Balance

 Hybrid work allows employees to maintain a healthier work-life balance, thanks to structured office hours and a designated workspace.

Reduced Isolation

The combination of remote and office work can help to mitigate feelings of loneliness and isolation, fostering a sense of community among employees whilst allowing them flexibility when they need it.

Why Flexible Workspaces Like WorkPad Are Ideal for Hybrid Working

Flexible office providers like WorkPad offer tailored solutions that align perfectly with the needs of hybrid working.

Hot Desking

Flexible offices allow employees to choose a workspace that suits their needs on any given day. This flexibility promotes a dynamic and adaptable work environment where employees can collaborate effortlessly with different teams.

flexible-offices-for-hybrid-working
Hybrid working spaces offer more flexibility

Flexible terms

Companies can opt for flexible plans that align with their specific requirements, whether it’s occasional use or full-time access to office space. This adaptability ensures that the office space fits the company’s unique needs.

Professional Spaces

Flexible workspaces offer well-equipped offices and meeting rooms, making it easy for teams to collaborate, meet clients, and conduct presentations in a professional setting.

Professional-meeting-space-for-hybrid-team
WorkPad spaces convey a highly professional image

Streamlined IT Support

WorkPad offers robust IT support, ensuring that technical issues are promptly addressed, thus minimising disruptions.

Enhanced Security

Security is a top priority in flexible offices, ensuring that sensitive data remains protected, providing peace of mind to both employees and employers.

 

Hybrid or Back To The Office: WorkPad Has A Solution

Flexible offices like we offer at WorkPad are more than just physical spaces; they are dynamic spaces that cater to the evolving needs of the modern workforce. As hybrid working continues to gain prominence, these flexible solutions provide the ideal bridge between remote and in-person work, ensuring that businesses can thrive in this new era of work.

Whether you’re looking for a dedicated workspace for all your employees, or you’d like to offer a hybrid solution to your team, WorkPad can accommodate your requirement.

Browse our beautifully furnished flexible workspaces across London, including our serviced offices in farringdon, and find your new work home today.

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