4 Common Remote Work Mistakes + Ways to Fix Them

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June 2021
4 Common Remote Work Mistakes + Ways to Fix Them

If you strain your recollection, you may be able to dredge up memories of a bygone era in which we all spent our days gathered in offices. A worker would get up each day, travel to their workplace (typically via car, train, or bike), remain there for a semi-arbitrary amount of time (usually eight hours or thereabouts), then return home by the same route.

To many, this seemed like a big mistake, and they had good reasons for thinking so. Wouldn’t it be better if we all used the power of the internet to work from wherever we happened to already be? Travel money would stay in our pockets, roads would clear up, pollution would fade, and the precious work-life balance would find itself on ground of unprecedented solidity.

And when a looming virus broke the stubborn resistance that was holding mainstream employment from trying remote working, the results clearly showed that it is perfectly viable. Concerns about productivity or communication proved mostly unfounded. But they showed something else, too — and that’s just how hard it is to run a remote operation.

We’re currently inching closer to 18 months in the pandemic era, and businesses are still making basic mistakes that hold them back from optimizing their remote working processes. In this post, we’re going to look at some of these mistakes — but we’ll also explain how they can be fixed.

Let’s get started.

1.   Failing to Track Your Time Effectively

Working in an office made it relatively easy to tell what was happening: which tasks were being completed, and by whom. Separating everyone makes it so much harder. Left without clear oversight, employees — however well-meaning they may be — can lapse into relative inactivity, sitting at their computers with no clear idea what they’re supposed to be doing or why.

This is why time management (time tracking in particular) is such a key component of an effective remote business. Whenever an hour of working time can’t be attributed to something (even if it’s something non-productive, like having a social conversation with a coworker), that’s a clear indication that things are out of control. Everything from pricing services to lining up deals requires you to know your resources: the workers and hours you can bring to bear.

This process doesn’t need to be difficult: a tool like actiTIME can make time tracking as simple as it can be through a straightforward online interface that everyone can use. Getting everyone on the same page in this regard will make it abundantly clear when time is being used poorly and when it’s being used well. You can then use that information to implement improvements.

Automated time tracking


2.   Letting Training Fall by the Wayside

Most business owners understand the vitality of training. Employees are investments, after all, to be steadily cultivated until you’ve maximized their utility. But when you start working remotely, you can easily give up on the concept, assuming that it just won’t work. The classic formula of getting everyone in a room and talking through a lengthy PowerPoint presentation isn’t viable, yes — and it’s hard to get people to pay attention through remote presentations.

But that doesn’t mean you should give up on it. It’s perfectly possible to achieve effective training from a distance. The internet doesn’t just provide streaming services like Netflix and Spotify so artists can share their media: it also provides course platforms that make it easy to bundle training resources. For one example, Kajabi is an option (per Learning Revolution’s Kajabi review) for those “who make their living off of their expertise and the intellectual property (IP) they create,” allowing them to monetize their skills in a convenient way.

Due to this, people who might otherwise have been visiting companies in person and hosting seminars are now offering their high-value lessons through online marketplaces — and it’s likely to be much more economical to invest in a course that you can revisit time and time again than it is to pay for a training service to visit your office on a handful of occasions.

Employee training

3.   Clinging to Strict Working Hours

The 9-to-5 schedule (or something similar) used to be sensible because it kept teams together. In most cases, it was thought, productivity would be higher with everyone present, because it would make oversight easier and allow people to bounce ideas off one another. And when they had to start working remotely, plenty of businesses stuck with their working hours.

This hasn’t gone very well. Why? Because it’s mostly arbitrary, and workers know it. Offices don’t need to stay open for people to work, and people don’t need to communicate with their colleagues every minute of every day. For the most part, they can settle down and focus on what they need to do — and while some deadlines can require you to be active at particular times, most things can wait for a few days at least, meaning there’s no rush.

All these businesses need to do is make it clear when they need people working at particular times, and otherwise leave them to get through their hours when they want to. This will be better for morale, and better for productivity: we all prefer to work at different times of day, so letting night owls work in the evenings and go-getters work in the mornings will be a great thing.


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4.   Allowing Collaboration to Diminish

One of the nice things about working in an office is that you have ample opportunity to collaborate with your colleagues, whether in small ways (sharing tips when useful) or in large ways (teaming up on projects). This collaboration is rewarding in many ways. It allows workers to share their skills and passions, learn to understand one another better, and achieve things that they couldn’t achieve individually.

Now that teams have been split up, their members are becoming siloed. This results in lowered morale, lessened productivity, and greater miscommunication. There’s no magic bullet solution for this problem, unfortunately, so all you can do is put in more effort to find ways for people to team up remotely.

At a minimum, you should host more virtual meetings and social events, and take whatever opportunities come up for people to get together in person (despite the organizational challenges stemming from ongoing restrictions). The more businesses do to keep their teams together in meaningful ways, the more they’ll benefit.

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