5 Main Disadvantages of Remote Work


The highly contagious and dreaded coronavirus disease has abruptly pushed us, as a society, to cyberspace. Telemedicine, distance learning, e-commerce, and remote working have become the norm. While this has been a growing trend over the past decade, nothing has made the shift faster than this ensuing health crisis.

To prevent the further spread of the virus, we have adapted contactless services. And with the virus still a menace, it seems that this virtuality will stay in the foreseeable future.

Perhaps work disruption is one of the biggest impacts of this pandemic. Organizations that have previous remote work arrangements have quickly shifted to a full-time virtual schedule. Migration to virtual work has even made them more agile, responsive, productive, and successful. Employees enjoy the desirable perks of flexible work hours and working in the comfort of their homes.

For companies that are unprepared for this sudden change, the entire remote work concept presents a steep learning curve – and for other sectors, it’s just not possible. Sectors, such as finance, accounting, and IT, are geared towards remote work arrangements while others are not. These sectors are struggling to handle the technological aspects and human elements of virtual work. Likewise, remote work may not be suitable for everyone. Other workers are easily distracted at home, leading to reduced output or poor quality. They require a controlled environment to maintain productivity. Similarly, new hires need specialized training, often face-to-face guidance, before they can be allowed to work unsupervised.

Although many employees and companies are now reaping the benefits of remote work, it does have some drawbacks. Here we take a look at the five main disadvantages of virtual work.

Troubles with Communication

Working at a co-working space, a coffee shop, or at home may be ideal for jobs that require a lot of focus and concentration. However, traditional work is necessary for job functions that require close collaboration among teammates. While video conferencing, phone, or instant messaging apps are effective communication channels, this virtual connection can diminish the effectiveness of work.

Subtle communication cues can have a tremendous impact in conveying messages, building rapport, and improving understanding. With virtual work, this can get lost. It can lead to miscommunication and negative output.

Difficulty Establishing Company Culture

Every successful business has a distinct company culture, which enables them to operate effectively and provide the utmost service. Strong company values are the building blocks of strong company culture. However, it can be difficult to clarify and instill these values to employees if you don’t regularly interact with them. In remote work, there is no actual interaction among team members. This leaves very minimal organic opportunities for the employees to learn and exemplify these values. The lack of company culture can make it difficult to unite the workers towards achieving a singular goal.

Dysfunctional Work-life Balance of Employees

Without proper guidance and support, virtual workers might find it difficult to unplug from work. Some workers might find it difficult to separate personal and career life. Instead of commuting, employees might be working longer hours. Other workers might be struggling with plenty of distractions throughout the day, thus pushing them to work extended periods. The time zone differences might also lead to prolonged work. According to experts at remote staffing agency Allshore, a dysfunctional work-life balance can affect employee productivity, satisfaction, as well as their overall well-being.

Home-office Not Conducive for Work

Although you can find countless tips and hacks on how to create an ideal home-office, the fact is that not everyone has a perfect space. Some might find it impossible to build an organized and effective work area. Despite their best effort, they just cannot set up the space to make it conducive to full concentration. Aside from space requirements, a home office requires appropriate technology, equipment, and other gadgets to effectively carry out its functions. Quite obviously, an ill-equipped workspace can affect employee efficiency.

Risk to Productivity

Although some organizations report increased productivity due to working remotely, this is not true for every business. Considering the limitations of telecommuting, it can be difficult to achieve the same level of efficiency that a traditional workplace offers. Virtual workers are surrounded by distractions that can cause them to lose focus. Furthermore, working solo can make employees feel isolated and less motivated, which can negatively impact their productivity. This makes it crucial for business leaders to regularly check on the output of their employees.

Final Thoughts

The global health crisis has led to a revolutionary change in the way many organizations operate. It made remote work mainstream. Although this growing trend has lots of desirable perks, it has plenty of disadvantages. However, the good news is that these drawbacks can be addressed by organizations. To improve the outcome of remote work experience, the management should be more sensitive to the needs of employees.

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