How to Fix the 5 Greatest Obstacles to Remote Collaboration

Have you mastered the art of e-leadership? Even before the pandemic, business leaders were turning to agile, remote teams to reduce overhead and operating costs, and help fill the skills gap. Today, 59% of the Canadian workforce operates remotely – and only one in five employees say they want to go back to their workplace full time.

Despite the challenges involved, remote work is clearly here to stay. So let’s take a look at 5 of the greatest obstacles to remote collaboration, and how your business can fix them.

Obstacle #1 – Lack of direction

Because it’s sometimes difficult to collaborate effectively from afar, new remote employees especially can feel directionless and may become less productive.

How to fix it: You’ll do a better job keeping remote team members on track and accountable for their work if you engage in regular video calls and:

  • Ensure task instructions, objectives, and deadlines are always clear
  • Collaborate using dedicated management tools that track assignments and progress
  • Ask individual employees to report to you directly at designated times of the week

Obstacle #2 – Social disengagement

It’s not uncommon for remote workers to feel socially disconnected and to lose their sense of context or creativity.

How to fix it: Help your employees inspire one another by making personal interactions a priority. In addition to scheduling virtual get-togethers outside office hours, for example, you might:

  • Require team members to collaborate one-on-one as much as possible
  • Enable instant messaging communications to create a greater sense of professional intimacy
  • Encourage employees to reach out to others online who perform similar work to themselves

Obstacle #3 – Technical troubles

Adapting to current technologies is a must for remote collaboration success. But lack of familiarity and the enduring threat of screen fatigue can prevent team members from working as efficiently as they might.

How to fix it: Make certain every employee can take full advantage of whichever messaging, project planning, or video conferencing platform your business adopts by:

  • Providing appropriate tutorials and training sessions
  • Guaranteeing access to fast, reliable IT support
  • Making it possible to engage in shorter interactive sessions and take regular breaks

Obstacle #4 – Waning commitment

Without the need to show up physically to their engagements, remote employees risk losing their sense of commitment to leaders and organizational goals.

How to fix it: Try to establish greater buy-in by keeping team members aligned and in the loop.

  • Update employees regularly on shared objectives and outcomes
  • Be transparent in your communications and proactive about seeking feedback
  • Regularly schedule both ‘all-hands-on-deck’ and ‘one-on-one’ meetings to keep employees aware of helpful resources, and to remind them of the value they contribute through their individual roles

Obstacle #5 – Distractions and Overwork

Working remotely often means battling home-based distractions or the blending of work and private hours. With fuzzier timelines, employees can feel overworked and have trouble disengaging.

How to fix it: Good remote leaders don’t just motivate their teams; they also take care of them.

  • Offer practical advice for setting up a quiet and organized workspace – and sincere understanding when occasional disruptions hinder meetings or work progress
  • Keep tabs on employee output with the help of tools designed to track individual work hours
  • Check in and provide solutions to team members who appear overburdened (e.g. they’re logging hours or replying to messages late in the night)

Remember, as a business owner or manager, it’s your responsibility to both lead and support your remote team by encouraging 2-sided communications wherever possible, and doing your best to consistently clarify the collective path forward.