It's 2018, and terms like ‘digital nomad’, ‘distributed teams’ and ‘remote work’ are buzzwords. There has never been a time when working remotely seemed more attractive - people publicly endorse it, read about it, talk about it and even dream about it. What's not to love about being able to work full-time from any part of the world?
While working from home, or any other location of your choice, may come with numerous advantages, there are downsides as well. In fact, some people have tried it and haven't been able to pull it off. Are you looking to work remotely soon or planning to try hiring a remote team? Learn more about the possible disadvantages of remote work to prepare yourself for the worst.
Issues with security are not easy to contain
If anything goes wrong with security, it can be a hassle to clean up the mess. Companies that work with sensitive data should be even more careful about issues such as IP theft, data theft by employees and data leaks, among other potential security issues. It can be catastrophic if even just one remote worker happens to lose their laptop.
To protect your business, you can have remote workers use password managers, so it won't be a problem if a member of the team suddenly leaves. You can also install remote wipe apps and encryption software to protect your data against remote workers who may quit. Also, all employees will have to be vigilant about locking their laptops and phones. Be sure to get your antivirus updated and don't hesitate to invest in VPNs.
Remote work may be fine for responsible people or self-starters, but it can be a challenge when unproven teammates and junior staff are allowed to work from anywhere. Depending on where they're working from, they can get highly distracted or have to deal with unreliable Internet access.
If you absolutely must implement remote working, your staff have to be responsible to some extent. In addition, you can help keep them productive using tools that provide ambient noise, block out distracting websites or sync everything. Any tool you can throw in to help you track activity is great, but also implement reward programmes for top performers and re-evaluations for others.
Logistics and payment issues
When you're working with talent scattered around the world, you may have to deal with more cumbersome payments as you'll be making a lot of international transactions. It can also be complicated trying to manage the tax situation, depending on where your workers are located. Another serious issue is different time zones.
There'll most likely always be some issue or another, but you can make things less complicated by getting tax filing software or a service to help you make sure you're compliant with any tax laws across states or borders. As for time zones, you may eventually get the hang of them. But, for now, remind yourself of the advantages of having workers who can get on with business 24 hours a day.
It's not easy to manage accountability
Working with a remote team can make it easy to ignore your staff and even forget them. This can be even more pronounced in a situation where you have both remote workers and non-remote workers. Procrastination can quickly spiral out of control. It's extremely difficult to keep remote workers accountable, so you may need to do a lot of micromanagement to help keep them focused.
To help make your workers more accountable, you can try using a time-tracking tool to measure their billable hours. On the flipside, these tools can be useful for ensuring that your team members don't work overtime and get burned out. Another way to promote accountability is to establish a culture of transparency. This makes it possible for every member of the team to understand what everyone else is bringing to the table and how all the different tasks and responsibilities work together to achieve the company goal. If it works for you, you could even make salaries public.
Low levels of retention and reliability
Because it's extremely difficult to develop team spirit in remote teams, employees will hardly feel guilty about moving on to the next job. With remote workers, anything can happen really. A remote worker may never send you the work even after being paid a retainer or they may disappear and stop responding to your emails.
If you're looking to hire remote workers, look for specific skills that indicate they can handle working remotely. This could be checking if they have done remote work before or if they have handled their own business in the past. You're never going to be able to tie people down, so be sure to document all your processes. If you have to quickly hire people to replace others, the on-boarding process won't be a problem.