When Remote Work Doesn’t Work

Remote work has become more popular than ever, with both businesses and employees embracing its many benefits: increased flexibility and productivity, reduced commute times and operational costs, and happier workers.

But with remote work becoming more widespread, these same employees and businesses may also be discovering the potential downsides of remote work.

The truth is, remote work isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. If you’re wondering if it’s right for you, here are some things to consider.

Remote work isn’t for every business

Offering remote work isn’t always possible. There are plenty of companies who simply can’t function without having their people onsite. Examples include restaurants, retail outlets, and other service-oriented businesses. From production facilities to shipping companies to construction firms, many organizations need their employees to be physically present. 

Other companies have the capacity to offer remote work in a limited capacity for certain kinds of employees or under particular circumstances. These businesses will need to determine where telecommuting will and won’t work and then strive to make it available where, when, and how it makes sense.

Some organizations place a very high value on the connection that comes with sharing ideas, successes, failures, and yes— space— on a day to day basis. While these companies may be well-suited to providing remote work options, if there is a strong commitment to building a culture of in-person collaboration and teamwork, they may not want to.

Business owners will want to carefully evaluate their situation to determine whether or not remote working is a good fit.

Remote work concerns for employers include:

  • Employee accountability
  • Performance management
  • Creating/enforcing remote work policy
  • Logistics (training, technology, etc.)
  • Data and device security
  • Low engagement
  • High turnover

These are all valid concerns. In order for a remote work program to be successful, each of these things will need to be addressed through the following.

1.) A well-thought-out policy 

Dealing with remote work in general terms or on a case by case basis may work for a while, but this will eventually lead to more questions than answers. A policy that has set parameters is much easier to execute, enforce, and promote. If you do decide to offer remote options, make sure you’ve designed a plan that is in line with your company values and doubles as an effective recruiting and retention tool.

2.) Plenty of manager and employee training

Managing a team can be difficult no matter where you are, but supervising remote employees brings additional challenges. Make sure anyone who has direct reports receives training on how to effectively support, mentor and evaluate remote employees. You’ll also want to establish clear guidelines for holding remote staff accountable. Your remote employees will need to have expectations spelled out for them. Are they expected to have set hours? How will they track their time and accomplishments? What metrics will they be measured on? Make sure they get full tutorials on all of the technology required to do their jobs. If they are struggling remotely, it will affect performance and morale. And you may never even know about it.

3.) Enhanced communication and technology strategies

Remote teams aren’t just in different offices or departments. They can also be in different cities, countries, and time zones. This makes communication more complex. Make sure you have a variety of ways for your team to reach out and stay connected. Project management, video conference, and instant messaging platforms can all be very helpful additions to your technology toolbox— as long as people are trained and committed to using them.

4.) Finding ways to create and maintain a sense of team cohesion

Depending on just how remote your team is, this may require a significant amount of imagination, creativity, and investment. If your employees are close enough, consider requiring regular meet-ups either at your office or offsite. If your team is more spread out, try getting them together for annual or semi-annual team meetings, retreats, or planning sessions. You may also want to try:

  • Hosting local team events that encourage nearby employees to meet in person.
  • Sending small groups of employees to relevant industry conferences together
  • Assigning internal mentors to new employees or those who have recently joined a new team, project, or department.
  • Having regular video chats and calls. Video can also be a great tool to introduce new employees, send messages from leadership, announce company news, recognize team members, or just have a little fun.

If your leadership isn’t ready to tackle these four areas, remote work may not be a good fit for your business. At least not right now, anyway.

A telecommuting strategy isn’t something you can throw together in a haphazard way. Doing so is sure to get you haphazard results. If that’s what you’ve done and it’s not working for you, perhaps it’s time to get a bit more serious about your plan.

When it makes sense and is executed well, remote work can be a great option for many employees and businesses. Why not take the time to find out if you’re one of them?


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Photo by belchonock 

Got Overtime? Make Sure You’re Handling It Correctly.

When it comes to payroll mishaps, there’s a lot at stake. Costly fines, penalties, and litigation can do serious damage to your company.  

Even if your payroll mistake is accidental and relatively small, it can quickly balloon into a large financial burden. One company’s $608 overtime mistake ended up costing them nearly $45,000 when it was all said and done.

And if that’s not enough to worry about, payroll mistakes can also lead to unhappy employees, low workplace morale, class action lawsuits, and negative press. All of which are bad for business.

Where are businesses going wrong?

Payroll can be a nuanced and complicated processes, changing with every new law, regulation, and employee that comes along. If you’re not on top of it constantly, things can go bad quickly.

Here are some common payroll mistakes companies make:

  • Misclassifying employees
  • Using inaccurate time tracking methods
  • Keeping poor records
  • Missing deadlines
  • Being uniformed

Often, the problem is as simple as poor communication. Deadlines get missed. Hours are worked but not reported. Employees and managers have different expectations about what is and isn’t acceptable.

It’s all about the details

Even employees with the best intentions can put their employers at risk. Motivated staff may actually want to skip breaks and/or put in extra hours without expectations of pay. But even if these employees don’t expect to get paid for those extra hours, employers are still on the hook for following and enforcing all wage and hour laws.

Some companies will take advantage of employees like this by looking the other way and hoping they don’t get caught, but many companies are truly unaware that their employees are working off hours.

Technology plays a role here as well. Cell phones, laptops, and remote work options make it very easy for employees to log additional time off the clock without anyone knowing. Often, these employees themselves don’t realize they are doing anything wrong. But small overtime mistakes can add up to big trouble.

Keys to effective overtime management

1. Make compliance a priority

It all starts with knowing your responsibilities as an employer— and staying in compliance. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can do one time and trust that it will take you into the future. Compliance is an ongoing process that requires constant attention.

2. Invest in your HR and payroll systems

If your payroll person is also your HR person, your accountant, and your receptionist, you’re just asking for a wage and hour violation. Invest in strengthening your internal HR team or consider partnering with an outside payroll company to help. Whoever is in charge of these things needs to have the bandwidth, knowledge, and experience to get them done correctly.  

3. Classify employees correctly

Misclassification of employees is one of the most common causes of labor lawsuits. Pay close attention to the rules for classifying contractors, exempt, and non-exempt employees— and follow them to the letter. If you’re feeling uncertain, this is another area you can ask a payroll expert for help.

4. Communicate with your team

You’ve gone through the trouble to learn the ins and outs of wage and hour law, but do your employees know what they need to do? Spell out the details of what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to overtime and hours worked and let them know what will happen if they don’t follow the rules.

5. Keep accurate time

If your time tracking system isn’t accurate, your payroll system won’t be either. It’s as simple as that. Find a system that is consistent, precise, secure, and easy to use. Then, make sure you get your money’s worth by clearly explaining how it works and requiring everyone to use it. 

Play it safe

Effectively managing overtime will help protect your company from payroll and compliance violations, wage and hour fines, and class action lawsuits. This alone should be more than enough motivation to keep you on the right side of wage and hour compliance, but it doesn’t end there.

Avoiding payroll mistakes will save you time, money, and headaches. It will also keep your employees happier— which means they’ll keep clocking in for years to come.


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Photo by ViDi Studio

Your Employee Handbook: Beyond Rules and Regulations


You know it’s important for businesses to have an employee handbook, but you may be wondering how having one in place can benefit both you and your employees.

Beyond spelling out company policies and rules, a well-written employee handbook can be a very useful workplace tool for both employers and employees. Some of the things it can do may even surprise you!

Here are a couple of unexpected ways this document can facilitate business growth and help you recruit and retain employees. 

A tool to manage growth

When companies are very small or just starting out, it’s easier to set and manage expectations, self-police behavior, and maintain a cohesive company culture.

As businesses grow and evolve, these things become exponentially more difficult and the need to formalize organizational policies, systems, and expectations becomes much more critical.

An effective employee handbook will clearly outline essential business processes such as behavior standards, safety information, leave policies, anti-discrimination policies, compensation, and employee benefits.

Clarifying HR processes can significantly reduce the amount of time spent going back and forth to resolve employee issues and misunderstandings. This can be especially important for small businesses, where both time and resources are scarce. Your employee handbook will also promote consistency in how employees are treated, helping to keep your business in compliance and out of court.

A culture enhancer

In addition to serving these very practical purposes, your employee manual can be a great way to reinforce your company culture and values.

The employee handbook is one of the first documents your new hires will receive. Keep in mind, they’ve just gone through a hiring process that portrays your company in a certain light. Now is the time to keep that light shining bright by reinforcing all the things you talked about during your recruiting and interview phases.

If your recruitment process is based on a “We care about our employees” message, your employee handbook is a great way to reinforce that notion immediately after. On the other hand, if it reads like a clinical set of procedures, rules, and discipline polices, your new hires are going to notice that these things don’t match up. This could put your new team members on the defensive and cause them to question the decision to jump onboard.

Here’s how you can use your employee manual as another way to make your employees feel good about joining your organization:

  • Include information on your company mission and vision
  • Talk about how you demonstrate your organizational values
  • Outline your employee benefits and compensation packages
  • Promote your employee wellbeing programs and/or initiatives
  • Offer information on where employees can go if they have questions and complaints
  • Let employees know what resources are available if they need professional and/or personal help

If you view your employee handbook as a formality, an afterthought, or a formal list of company rules, you’re wasting an opportunity to showcase who you are as an organization.

Folding an employee-first message into your manual will not only strengthen your company brand and message, it will remind your happy new hires why they chose you.


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Africa Studio


Are You Working Remotely or Remotely Working?

Remote work is getting a lot of attention right now. So is oat milk. But that doesn’t mean it’s for everybody. Every business is different, and so is every employee.

If you mention working remotely to a group of people, you’ll likely get two distinct reactions:

  • A dreamy look crossing the face of those imagining days of peaceful productivity with no commute, no interruptions, and total freedom over their schedules.
  • A visible shudder from those trying to picture getting any work done in a home office with no structure, no coworkers, and an endless swirl of constant distraction.

Some people love the freedom of managing their own time. Others crave routine, structure, and guidance. Some employees thrive in environments full of people and noise and chaos. Others crave chunks of uninterrupted quiet time and working independently.

The remote work trend

It’s no secret that today’s employees and job candidates are looking for flexibility and work-life balance. When employees say they value remote working options, they mean it. But they may not have actually done it. Which means they may not be prepared for the reality of it.

Here are some common things remote employees struggle with:

  • Isolation
  • Anonymity
  • Disengagement
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Lack of leadership/guidance/communication
  • No clear line between work and home
  • Distractions (too many or not enough)

Sometimes these challenges are temporary and disappear once a healthy and effective remote work routine is established.

Other times, these issues are more about the person than the structure.

If you’re the kind of person who hates leaving things unfinished and your office is right down the hall, this can quickly lead to overworking and burnout.

If you’re the kind of person who gets easily distracted and has a hard time reining yourself back in after an interruption, your home office could be a recipe for disaster.

Despite all the shiny promises and benefits of remote work, the truth is it isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Remote employees may find themselves craving more quality face time or office time, and some businesses may be wondering if they should continue to offer telecommuting options or try to shove their remote work program back into the magic bottle it came out of.

In either scenario, there are some good lessons to be learned here.

Whether you’re a business owner trying to figure out how to offer remote options or an employee trying to work remotely, sometimes it just isn’t a good fit. Admitting this is the first step to finding a solution that is.

What works for you? 

Having a solid remote work policy can reduce business operation costs and open up a whole new candidate pool for employers. It can also be a big differentiator when it comes to employee recruitment and retention.

Employees say they want to work from home, but what they really want is the flexibility to balance the many demands of work, family, and life. Sometimes this means remote work, but it could also mean something else. A flexible schedule, paid time off, employer sponsored healthcare, or some other workplace benefit.

If remote isn’t working for you or your organization, don’t try to force that square peg into a round hole. Work on finding something that fits.


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners