Few things have changed everyday life as we know it as profoundly as the COVID-19 pandemic. In just a few months, the health crisis has disrupted so many aspects of our lives that we’ve tended to take for granted until now. With countries closing their borders, tourism is at a standstill; businesses have also shut down en masse and people have been told to shelter in place to keep the virus from further spreading.

Some organisations were able to transition their employees into a remote working setup. However, the situation is not without its fair share of challenges. Given little time to prepare for a situation that is still rapidly developing, managers and employees alike are having numerous difficulties adjusting to a new status quo. Below are 5 common challenges teams face as they transition to remote work during this difficult time, and what organisations can do to overcome them:

Scheduling Dilemmas

Scheduling anything can swiftly become a nightmare for unprepared teams that have just been thrown off the deep end of remote work. With employees scattered, even dropping in for a quick chat between colleagues about work matters can become quite the complicated affair.

Remote work requires heavy calendaring, and it can be quite the adjustment to make for teams that are not used to a heavily structured workflow. Things that may require careful and deliberate scheduling can include all-hands meetings, daily one-on-one check-ins, progress reports, start-of-the-week kick-offs, and end-of-the-week retrospectives. These keep members of the team on the same page and abreast of what’s happening on each other’s ends.

Collaboration Complications

Working on projects as a team can be monumentally more difficult when it’s being done remotely. Without the luxury of being able to see each other face-to-face regularly, members may have trouble expressing their thoughts and making meaningful contributions.

Technology can be a great help for struggling teams that may be having trouble collaborating. Phone and video conferencing apps can be used in place of the regular team meeting. Onlineproject management training programscan help team leads and members alike develop practical planning and execution skills so that collaborative work can continue, even when employees are not working in a shared office space.

Lack of Personal Supervision

Having face-to-face time is so important for both supervisors and the employees under their care. Team leads are able to guide their members more effectively, while team members are able to more easily access support from the managerial level. It’s also very important for giving and receiving timely, accurate feedback. Remote work changes office dynamics quite dramatically. Without personal time with each other, miscommunications can abound. Supervisors may not be able to push their team members to excel, which can lead to more lacklustre performance.

Keeping employees engaged falls solely on the shoulders of the managers in this case. Trusting that employees will be able to work independently is one thing but leaving them to go solo is quite another. When handing out tasks, the guidelines and the objective should be delivered in clear language to prevent misunderstandings. It also falls on managers and supervisors to establish the rules of engagement: tell your employees how you’d rather be reached for both urgent and trivial concerns, whether that’s by phone, instant messenger, or email. Managers should also communicate an impression of approachability to encourage workers to offer ideas and feedback, as well as ask questions if they aren’t clear on something.

Limited Access to Information

Working towards a common goal can be hard when everyone has different levels of access to the information required to complete it. This is especially obvious in remote work—employees may not always be able to stay on the same page and obtaining crucial information from colleagues can take much longer than usual.

The lack of so-called mutual knowledge can be addressed by way of regular team check-ins and democratising information. Email threads are a good way to keep everyone on a team abreast on the latest project updates and events. Team members should also have access to all the tools they need to perform their tasks effectively.

Social Withdrawal and Isolation

Remote work has a tendency to affect the mental and emotional health of employees detrimentally. The disconnection from colleagues and lack of socialisation opportunities can cause workers to feel lonely and secluded. This can easily lead to lower morale and dissatisfaction in their jobs.

Team members should make an effort to stay in touch with each other both during work hours and past them. Managers should encourage ways for employees to interact and have informal conversations about topics that do not have anything to do with work: for instance, setting aside the first few minutes of a team conference just to catch up with each other can prove immensely helpful.


Working as a team towards a shared objective is undeniably more difficult when it has to be done remotely. However, any challenge can be overcome by maintaining that team mindset regardless of where you’re working from.