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February 24, 2023

15 Reasons Companies Fail At Remote Work—And How To Thrive Instead

With the rise of remote work, many organizations have embraced it as a way to improve work-life balance, reduce overhead costs and increase employee productivity. However, despite its potential benefits, remote work is not without its challenges, and some companies struggle to make it work.


One specific reason why companies fail at remote work is a lack of communication and collaboration between team members, leading to missed deadlines, confusion and decreased productivity. Below, 15 members of Forbes Business Council share more potential reasons a work-from-home arrangement may fail and how business leaders can fix it to create a culture that truly supports remote work.

1. Culture Shock

One primary reason for failure is culture shock—employees feel unprepared, unsupported or not enabled to sustain this new way of work. To ensure successful telework within an organization, business leaders must prioritize culture over all else. This means offering support through training and resources and ongoing enablement to help everyone adjust to the change. – Ronke KomolafeIntegrated Physical & Behavioral Health Alliance

2. Difficulty Changing Management’s Habits

The main problem with this kind of work is management’s habits. Some leaders need to talk in person in order to see and control people in the office. Most work can be done remotely now. Leaders need to build clear communication and task management systems. There are tons of tools that can help people work remotely but the main secret is discipline and consistency in implementing the new approach. – Julia PonomarevaGetCourse

3. Micromanagement

Remote work is a high-trust strategy. If your culture is dependent on micromanagement or scrutiny of timesheets, you will struggle to implement any form of a virtual work option. If you are committed to remote options, try to build more trust among your managers and their staff. Use metrics to make sure things don’t derail, listen to the needs of your team and encourage autonomy. – Ian BouchettLedgr


4. Limited Worker Autonomy

I think leaders need to be clear on the objective and result they are seeking from the teleworker. The worker has to decide how they can most efficiently and effectively achieve the results. Too many times, we get hung up on the process versus just focusing on the result we want a team member to achieve. Teleworking is successful when the worker has the autonomy to decide the how of the job. – Angie NollReconciled Solutions

5. No Framework For Collaboration

It is necessary to understand how business processes will be changed and what organizational structure changes need to be made. Adopting and creating a proper collaboration framework is critical. And do not forget about human issues, as it helps people feel involved. – Igor RyabenkiyAltaIR Capital

6. Lack Of Trust

Trust is one of the biggest challenges organizations face when transitioning to truly remote work. To build an organization built on trust, three things need to exist: goal setting from both the larger organization and the individual for unity, investment in technology to support an efficient and displaced workforce and alignment and reinforcement of the company mission for employees. – Ravi SwaminathanTaskHuman

7. Complicated Processes

One of the biggest reasons is that “ease of business” is even more important remotely. Clients don’t like filling out 50-page application forms in person. Remotely, it is even more important to streamline processes. A world-class product that is difficult to sell will sell less than an average one making it easy for the client to buy due to the path of least resistance. – Adam

8. Disconnected Teams

A lack of connectivity can occur, so it’s critical to ensure everyone has clarity on the organization’s goals and alignment on expectations to accomplish them. Managers should foster how the team’s work is connected to the business to build trust and camaraderie. Without a shared vision and action plan, remote teams can be distracted by less effective tactics that might not move the organization forward. – Christine MarvinMarvin

9. The Assumption Of ‘Business As Usual’

One mistake is assuming that it is business as usual. While to some extent jobs haven’t changed, communication channels have significantly changed due to telework, so it is important to create both structured and unstructured opportunities to share information. Virtual water cooler conversations, regular status meetings and in-person events need to all work together to build community and idea sharing. – Danielle LevyDanielle Levy & The Boardroom League

10. Isolation And Burnout

Telework allows for greater productivity and flexibility. However, it has to be implemented properly. When employees have back-to-back meetings with no breaks, it can cause isolation and burnout. Consider extra time before and after meetings to allow for natural conversations among colleagues, one-on-one coffee chats, walking meetings and casual chatting through messaging to build comradery. – Sonia GuptaChange Healthcare

11. Poor Communication

Communication is key to remote work. I often issue a challenge to my team to try to overcommunicate because finding opportunities to communicate in a remote environment takes conscious effort. You cannot just bump into someone in the hallway or peek if their door is open. As a manager, I am constantly looking for ways to communicate and to encourage communication across the team. – Jordan FischerOctillo

12. Lack Of Systems In Place

The reason companies fail is because of a lack of systems in place. Often, remote working starts as a novelty or a trial to “see how it goes”—but that will never work out. For remote work to be successful, it has to be intentionally implemented. This includes having all of the systems in place to support remote employees and facilitate communication with others, especially if there are in-office employees. – Artis RozentalsDeskTime

13. Failure To Be Flexible

One reason companies fail at remote work is because they are not flexible in their approach. Draconian “one-rule-for-all” approaches fail to appreciate all the various glorious nuances of individuals that make up a team. By celebrating individuality and building a collaborative culture, you create a safe environment designed for people to do their very best work. Being human needs to come from the top down. – Andrew Dunbar

14. Limited Knowledge Sharing And Connection

Developing employee skills for remote workers is challenging. For example, every business has a vocabulary, and it’s hard to pick that up on Zoom calls. Informal learning at lunch and in the break room is how a lot of knowledge is passed down. Human beings also need belonging, and remote work makes that more vague. – Patrick DwyerNewEdge Wealth

15. Irrelevancy In Business

Remote work, although a fantastic proposition for productivity, fails to create connections that lead to innovation. Companies will fail with 100% remote work because whilst making the decision to set up remote work, they are not thinking of innovations required to keep the business relevant. Organizations ought to embrace hybrid work, which brings the balance of productivity and creativity. – Anjali SharmaNarrative: The Business of Stories

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