Working Remotely Uncovers Tech and Team Deficiencies

Remote work highlights tech gaps: Workers need better communication tools to thrive from home.

By Ivana Taylor

Published on July 9, 2020

In This Article

Working remotely is now the norm for the bulk of office workers. An IBM survey found that 75% would like to continue to work from home in at least a partial capacity, while 40% of respondents said they feel strongly that their employer should give employees the choice to opt-in to remote work.

But working remotely has also uncovered a series of deficiencies that make working remotely a bit frustrating, according to a recent Zoho survey.

Inadequate Technology Systems

  • 51 percent of employees categorized these systems inadequate in keeping them aligned with company goals while working remote.
  • 56 percent of the small and medium businesses said computing systems were not conducive to their work
  • 54 percent of enterprise-level employees (businesses with more than 500 employees) found the applications they work with not intuitive and difficult to integrate.
  • 40 percent of the largest enterprise employees surveyed (businesses with more than 4,000 employees) said their work can be chaotic, working with multiple technology platforms to do their job accordingly.
  • 37 percent of enterprise employees found their technology infrastructure not supportive to good communication throughout the organization as they work remote.
  • Only 10 percent of those surveyed said they could confidently get a complete view of the relationship between their company and customer without having to check several systems. This result is especially important for companies to recognize as the customer and client relationship is particularly fragile during the pandemic and context for communication is critical.
  • For both front office and back office employees, 50 percent found their company’s technology inadequate to support their job role while remote.  

“Going to the office, as a concept, started during the Industrial Revolution, when workers needed to travel to factories to use heavy equipment,” said Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist at Zoho. “With the cloud, with online tools accessible from anywhere, including your home, we are back to a pre-Industrial Revolution era. This means that the right tools have to be made available for employees to be productive. Unfortunately, as the survey finds out, this is not currently the case. This has to change for employees to be successful.”

Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist at Zoho

The Pivotal Role of Remote Team Management Skills for Working Remotely

how many people were working remotely before the pandemic
Gallup Survey

Let’s get something straight. Working remotely has grown exponential with the evolution of new collaborative technologies. And these technologies, while imperfect, were tolerable for the 30% of people who had been working remotely before the pandemic. But when the number of people working remotely doubled after the pandemic, technology hasn’t been keeping up.

But there’s something else in play. The pandemic forced an unprecedented number of people to stay home using technologies that were designed for face-to-face interactions.

There’s More to Working Remotely Than Technology

Back in the 90’s the hot topic was multi-functional work teams. Even with a nascent internet technology, companies were recognizing the power of teams. Multi-functional work teams showed not only productivity improvements, but improvements in communication, collaboration and creativity.

But this has been a silent conversation during the pandemic.

There’s a Skill to Hiring and Managing Remote Teams

While having an integrated technology that allows remote workers to collaborate is helpful. It can’t help if you don’t know how to hire and manage a virtual team.

It helps to learn a follow a team model. The best high-performance team model I’ve used is called the “Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model

dresser-sibbet team performance model

How to Integrated Outsourced Contractors into Your Remote Team

Recently, Brent Leary pulled together a group of experts to share their best practices for hiring and managing a virtual team:

Here is a short summary of some of the tips:

On how to figure out what to outsource:

Ivana Taylor: The first step in figuring out what to outsource is to understand what you have to outsource. The E-Myth recommends to make a list of all of your activities and tasks, group them and then select the ones that only you can do. Outsource the rest.

David Elkins (Zoho): As you’re thinking about what tasks to outsource, don’t overlook those small things that take up “head space”. This is where collaborative remote tools such as Zoho Connect or Zoho Cliq are very helpful.

On how to communicate your processes and train your remote team

Monique Johnson: Don’t forget to use the power of video to help you document processes and procedures. If you are overwhelmed by the prospect of writing and typing, use video tools.

On how to test potential contractors

John (ColderIce) Lawson: When you post a project on an outsourcing site, add a code at the bottom of your description such as Job#56732 and ask them to use that number in their reply. This way you know that they took the time to read the entire description.

On how to find people to add to your team

Gail Gardner: One of the best ways to find good people is to reach out to your network and your community.

What to do when team members go dark

Anita Campbell: It’s not uncommon for remote team members to simply stop engaging with you. One thing I recommend is to make it a point to reach out using a tool like SKYPE or Zoho Cliq and check in on you team. Say hello to folks. Ask how they are.

How to Bridge Technology and Team Management to Stay Productive

Clearly employees who have been “forced” into remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have been put in a sink or swim situation. The technology so many businesses are using was chosen for a face-to-face working scenario and NOT a virtual remote work scenario.

The way to bridge the divide between current insufficient technologies and new technologies more tailored to remote work and team collaboration, is to start with a solid team performance model. With that in place, choose a centralized and fully integrated technology that allows your remote teams and contractors to engage with each other and see corporate goals and tasks.