The rise of remote work came quickly and without a guidebook for anyone involved. Since then, some problems have come to light for the companies where it has been implemented. From trying to balance 80 hour work weeks to companies time tracking with facial recognition, here are some insights from executives and HR leaders on the issues that can come with remote work.
Companies Running Facial Recognition to Time Track
One particular horror story I’ve come across was a mid-sized company I was familiar with running a facial recognition program on their computers to ensure that employees maintained an adequate level of face time with their laptops.
You were only considered “green” in terms of time tracking if you were at your computer and the program could recognize your face. Naturally, this meant that you were always on camera, which is not only extremely dubious from a moral perspective, it flirts with a lot of legal issues in most parts of the world.
That’s one Pandora’s box that I’d recommend not opening, regardless of how much you want to time track your employees.
Being in a tornado zone is bad enough. But when you’re working from home in the early days of the pandemic, a tornado causes even more undue stress and hardships.
In April 2020, an EF3 tornado ravaged our town. Even though we didn’t get the brunt of the storm, it knocked power out at our house and throughout the town. I couldn’t work from home, and going to a local coffee shop was out of the question because of downed trees and heavy debris.
I missed critical client deadlines because of a lack of power and internet. I couldn’t call clients because communications were out. And even though my clients were understanding of the situation, it took me several days to catch up.
Founder and Director, Fleurish Freelance
As people began working from home, some realized they could take advantage of the situation by getting a second job. Since they were remote, it was easier to skip meetings, turn off the camera during Zoom calls, and balance the demands of two full-time jobs.
An organization in my community found that many of their team members were “double-dipping” with two full-time jobs and immediately let that portion of their workforce go.
Vice President of Marketing, Motivosity
Someone I know had an employee who had forgotten to mute their mic. They had muted earlier on by accident and talked to themselves, but after “muting,” believing they had said their contribution, they left their mic unmuted for just long enough for everyone else to hear something.
This is relatable for a lot of us, as we often mute to hide our anxieties and exasperation, so leaving the mic unmuted could reveal this to employers. However, what everyone else heard was their child doing an impression of the employee when they get overly stressed.
Luckily, everyone thought it was cute and led to the employee being able to reschedule their work hours to ease their anxieties, but it is still a scary thought of what could slip through.
Senior Editor and Writer, The Broke Backpacker
I’ve operated remotely for the last few years (mostly) but I know many people who only adapted to remote working once the pandemic hit. Many of these people were business owners and senior managers who had to adapt quickly once offices were closed and employees stayed home.
I heard lots of stories from them about things going wrong. One story that stood out was when a company with an older staff struggled to adapt to new remote work routines right when they took on a large, fresh project. The company could not operate in this new setting without a lot of training and every step of the new project was a failure. Employees seemed unwilling to learn new processes, and the managers seemed unable to get them on board.
Fortunately, the managers brought on new team members who jumped into action and were more willing to make the new routine work for everyone. The major project was delayed, but things could have been much worse.
Founder and CEO, Credit Building Tips
One horror story I know is related to job security and financial stability. I lost my job without warning when the company I worked for experienced financial difficulties and was acquired by another company, with a new business owner who was against working from home.
They did not give me the opportunity to negotiate a severance package or transition to a new role within the company. The sudden loss of my job was a shock and has had a significant impact on my financial stability and security.
The new business owner’s stance on remote work meant that many of my colleagues and I could no longer work from the comfort of our own homes, adding to the already difficult situation of losing our jobs.
Marketing Director, Leeds First Aid Courses
A Heavily Disrupted Work-life Balance
I’ve seen a friend who worked fully remotely for a very long time, and it got to where he just couldn’t switch off. He made a few famous remote work mistakes, such as working in his own bedroom, and what followed were roughly three months of him struggling with his work-life balance because he was just used to it. Almost everything reminded him of work, which many would argue is truly horrific.
Marketing and Outreach Manager, PhotoAiD