Top 4 biggest challenges of working from home in 2021. How employers can meet the challenges of remote work and help employees adapt to working from home.
Permanent remote work arrangements are expected to double from 16.4 percent in early 2020 to 34.4 percent in 2021, according to a study by Enterprise Technology Research.
But adapting to working from home continues to be a challenging process, evidenced by popular searches like “how to stay focused working from home” and “tips for working from home with kids.”
Transitioning to remote work is a massive undertaking that’s all the more complicated when it occurs overnight in response to a global pandemic. Organizations expanding remote work capabilities in 2021 must address the biggest pitfalls of working from home for a successful endeavor.
Top 4 Biggest Challenges of Working from Home in 2021
Minimizing Distractions at Home
Distractions are plentiful at home. Employees lose focus because of family members, pets, chores, construction, their phones, televisions and so much more. It’s important to adapt a routine that’s conducive to remote work by identifying and working around major distractions. Maybe it’s as simple as setting a specific day or time to do chores, or setting up a workspace in a bedroom to avoid high traffic areas like the living room and kitchen.
Some employees don’t have home office equipment and could be distracted by their limited setup. Nearly 65 percent of people working from home due to the coronavirus reported new physical woes including “tech neck” and lower back pain, according to findings published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Employers recognized this distraction and barrier to productivity as well as wellness and allowed workers to start expensing desks, chairs and computers or instituted allowances for WiFi and phone costs.
Employers should check in with employees when adapting to remote work to see how they’re adjusting to the new routine and if they have the right equipment to get the job done at home.
Supporting Mental Health and Financial Wellness
Supporting Remote Worker Mental Health
Social isolation has been linked to depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and imparied immunity, according to the American Psychological Association. Social isolation, as well as anxiety about the virus and the uncertainty of the economy are just a few of the mental health challenges employees are experiencing that could be impacting their performance or productivity at work.
Employers can help by asking workers how they’re doing in general when conducting performance check-ins and by reminding them or even emphasizing the mental health benefits and perks that might be available, like teletherapy or mental health days.
Supporting Employee Financial Wellness
Financial stress costs employers $2,169 in lost productivity and absenteeism per employee, according to research by John Hancock. Absenteeism due to financial stress more than doubled from 2019 to 2020 and 43 percent of workers spend time on their finances during work hours.
Nearly 60 percent of employees are feeling more financial stress during the COVID-19 pandemic than before it began. Close to 80 percent are worried about economic conditions, over 70 percent are worried about not having enough retirement savings and 22 percent have dipped into their emergency savings.
Supporting employee financial wellness in a remote work environment is all about finding the right financial wellness program for your workforce. Best Money Moves has all the tools and features employees need to assess their financial situations; budget for monthly expenses, pay down debt, plan for emergencies, save for retirement and diversify their portfolios. It has a library of over 800 articles, videos and calculators, resources that employees can use to educate themselves about everything from investing in the stock market to co-signing loans to buying their first homes. Our team of Money Coaches, trained professional financial counselors, are ready to give employees additional financial guidance whenever they need it.
Creating a Connect Culture
One of the most challenging parts of adapting to working from home is figuring out how to stay connected as a team. Over 40 percent of employees struggled with group work, 28 percent had a hard time with customer interactions, 18 percent found information gathering straining and 14 percent had a tough time with task execution when working remotely during COVID-19, according to research by Ring Central. More than half of employees said their companies did not make significant attempts to help them collaborate remotely, which made collaboration more difficult than in a physical office.
Ring Central found that 34 percent of employees working at companies that foster a connected culture say they’re more productive when working from home. When asked what helped them feel more connected at work, half of employees said that frequent employee communication helps, 26 percent said enhanced collaboration tools, 24 percent said virtual happy hours, 22 percent said peer chats and 15 percent said group video games.
Employers should work with their teams and try different ways of connecting remotely to determine what works best for them.
Flexibility for Parents and Caregivers
Over 60 percent of parents agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic made the 2019-2020 school year extremely stressful for them, according to research by the American Psychological Association. Parents were challenged with setting their kids up for virtual or hybrid learning on top of adjusting to the shift to working from home.
Employers can better support parents and caregivers by providing more flexibility, whether it’s giving them more control over what they work on, when they work or how they work. Flexibility allows people to do their jobs while wrestling with new stressors and responsibilities, such as a child’s education or caring for an aging parent.
Meeting the Challenges of Working from Home During COVID-19 in 2021
These are the four biggest challenges of working from home in 2021: minimizing distractions, supporting employee wellness, creating a connected culture and providing flexibility for parents and caregivers. But they aren’t the only challenges employers will face adapting to a remote workforce. Employers will need to digitize HR functions and rethink benefits and perks that worked well in a physical workplace (such as staff lunch, snacks, gym memberships) to create a remote employee experience that improves productivity, retention and recruitment.