Why Remote Work Fails

The coronavirus has taught us that there are both positives and challenges to working remotely or working from home. It can be a bit of a minefield but getting things set up well and starting out the right way can mitigate many of the challenges. If your employees are already engaged in remote work, you can make some small adjustments to have a big effect.  Take a look at these aspects of remote working, especially for small businesses or departments. 

Remote Work Challenges

Remote working can actually be especially demanding, and managers of small organizations need to be aware of this. It is possible to see declines in performance from previously high-performing workers. Four factors that lead to performance:

Lack of supervision face-to-face

Both employees and managers frequently worry about having little face-to-face interaction. It’s common for managers to express concerns that employees might not be working as hard as they do at the office. Employees, on the other hand, sometimes struggle due to a lack of directions, communication, and support.

Difficulty accessing information

Locating information from colleagues is much more difficult with remote work. Relying on email communication alone or even texts and slack can cause confusion regarding where to locate a specific document. It can take more effort and much more time. 

Social isolation 

Remote workers often complain about feeling lonely. They miss office social interaction. This can lead to employees feeling like they don’t ‘belong’. It can lead to employee dissatisfaction and turnover. 


There are certainly those employees who get drawn into the daytime television shows, but that is not the major distraction. More commonly, home-based remote employees can find it difficult to separate work life and home life, particularly if they have other people or pets in the home while they are working.

Make Remote Work Successful and Rewarding

There are many things that managers of small organizations can do to help their remote working employees thrive: 

  1. Have a daily check-in that is structured. This could be an individual call or a group call, where appropriate. Calls should be predictable and regular and should be a two-way conversation where employees can ask questions and consult the management.
  2.  Establish some engagement ‘rules’. You can be more successful in organizing remote work when there are set expectations. For example, establish communication lines for different urgencies of work. For example: Based on the urgency of the issue, when should they call vs. text vs. slack vs. email.
  3. Provide social interaction opportunities. Here are some ideas:

• An offsite team building session that is required. 

•  A virtual team building session. 

•  Create small group assignments for two to three people working toward a deadline.

•  Always start group meetings with an initial icebreaker or check-in.

Allowing employees to work from home has its challenges but done well can be rewarding for both the employee and the organization.