The 5 Baddest Remote Worker Problems & How To Solve Them

Remote work is everything it’s hyped up to be.

It provides unprecedented flexibility and freedom for the employees, as well as huge cost savings and access to global talent for the employer.

But this does not mean that everything is always hunky dory.

Managing a virtual team can be a challenging task, and there are pitfalls one needs to watch for.

This post will help team managers resolve the most significant issues facing virtual work and will serve as a guide for all high-performing teams.

Problem #1: Low Productivity

Work-from-home employees face a unique set of distractions and challenges as varied as the kids rearranging furniture in the next room, to the pet feline wanting royal attention. A simple knock on the door can stop momentum and pull focus from the job.

These impact productivity at the end of the day.

Remote work managers need to be cognizant of these realities and help provide stability and structure.


  • Set semi-firm daily/weekly quotas that signal to the team the amount of expected output. These quotas should be discussed with the team so resentment and resistance can be avoided in the future, and greater buy-in can be achieved. (One way of setting quotas is by starting low and slow. And, over time, as employees become more task-proficient, slowly ramp up to an optimum level.)
  •  Provide project management tools that can track tasks and their progress.
  • Talk to the individual. If the person is not performing up to par, there must be something getting in the way of his/her productivity. The best way of teasing this out is by levelling with the employee and understanding what’s going on in his professional and personal life.
  • Help the individual establish a productivity-enhancing routine. One way is to create an environment that mimics a traditional office environment, with specific working hours and breaks. There should be a dedicated space where work happens. Putting structure and stability just might be the key to upping individual output.

Problem #2: Low Work Quality

With virtual teams, no eyes are looking over people’s shoulders. So, the required output numbers may be hit, but the quality is nowhere near desirable.

Barring professional incompetence, this often happens when there is a failure on the part of leadership to provide clear guidelines on the quality of the work expected. (And perhaps, in the past, shoddy work slipped through the cracks without any correction or feedback.)


  • Provide detailed project briefs, where expectations, goals and requirements are written down.
  • Provide clear reference points or desired outcomes that will serve as the standard for work.
  • Give feedback early on in the project. This means regular check-ins that can serve as early course correction. Providing feedback when much has been done, or at the end of the project, is too little, too late.
  • Have quality assurance protocols that flag defects, errors, or issues. (This is very useful for both physical and digital products.)
  • Offer ongoing training or workshops to enhance the skills of the team.
  • Build a culture of excellence. Make quality-consciousness part of the organization’s identity.

Problem #3: Communication breakdown

This is not unique to virtual teams. It’s a feature of human communication.

But add to that parties living in different time zones, and having different cultures and expectations, then the possibilities for miscommunication increase.

Effective communication is vital for effective collaboration and remote work managers need to manage issues like delayed responses, misunderstandings, passive-aggressive exchanges and indifference to collaboration.


  • For message clarity, simple language should be used in all various forms of communication. (eg. project updates, instant messages and virtual meetings.)
  • Lean on project management tools to bridge the virtual gap. Platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom facilitate seamless communication and teamwork.
  • For consistency, a full communication protocol should be developed. This document would include best practices for different communication scenarios and would serve as a reference for onboarding new members.
  • Further, expectations for response times should be outlined, as well as the preferred communication channel to be used. (eg. email vs. instant messaging) Having a shared understanding will reduce the chances of important messages getting lost in the wrong channels.
  • The use of screenshots, diagrams and other visual contexts to help convey complex information should be encouraged.
  • Communication training should be provided regularly. This is well worth the time and should include topics like effective writing strategies, virtual meeting etiquette, feedback tips and strategies for conveying complex data.

Problem #4: Isolation & disengagement

Remote workers sometimes feel socially isolated, missing out on informal interactions and social bonds formed in traditional office settings.

Being alone, day in and day out, can make one feel disconnected and disengaged in the social sphere.

Because human beings are naturally social, this can affect individual well-being and mental health. The remote team manager is in a great position to present plenty of opportunities for building informal (but meaningful) connections within the group.


  • Organize virtual team-building activities, like online games, Margarita Fridays, movie nights, team challenges, etc. These allow folks to let their hair down and get to know their colleagues.
  • As a team manager, you can spark personal, non-work-related communication by sharing your updates and hobbies, and then spurring others to do the same. This would be ideal in a group chat set-up where, as a rule, work is never discussed.
  • In group chats, do not be judgmental with your people’s attempts at engaging. Boost their confidence to open up by being supportive of their comments and attempts to get a laugh. You just don’t know the power of your approval or “Lol.”
  • Acknowledge and celebrate individual achievements—big or small. This should be mentioned in team meetings and written communication.
  • This is easier said than done, but as a team manager, it is on you to develop one-on-one relationships with the individuals in your team. Actively inquire about their well-being. There’s no way around this.

Problem #5: Burnout

Again, this is not just a feature of remote work. Workers can burn out in the office or at home.

Because of the shared spaces between professional and personal pursuits, remote workers may feel overwhelmed and burned out.

The telltale signs of burnout include absenteeism, decline in performance, job dissatisfaction, low morale, irritability, depression, headaches, muscle tension and tummy problems.


  • “Work-life balance” means different things for different people. Some individuals need time off and a vacation, others simply need fewer responsibilities. Team managers need to tailor their solutions accordingly.
  • Rest should be programmed into the job. (Not just when burnout happens.) This means adequate breaks should be factored into workload expectations and when setting deadlines.
  • Encourage remote workers to set boundaries by establishing a designated workspace and sticking to a predetermined schedule. (Sometimes the problem with remote workers is that they don’t know when to stop.)
  • Encourage and support people’s hobbies, projects and life goals.
  • Provide material on mental health hacks and stress-busting tips and practices. (Oftentimes, depressed people are too sapped to look for the solutions themselves.)
  • Team managers should continually provide unique challenges for people. Don’t let the same guys do the same tasks for too long. One way you can do this is to rotate the tasks so that different members get their shot at a great variety of tasks. This will also hone individual skills in the long run.
  • Instil in your people a sense of purpose by casting the organisation’s vision. Let people understand their part in the whole. Let them see the benefits clients and customers gain from the product or service. This would hopefully give meaning and context to their work.

So those are your 5 baddest remote worker problems, with some of the ways team managers can handle them.

We at Kinetic Innovative Staffing know a thing or two about remote workers. For the past decade, we have been helping organizations and companies around the world hire remote professionals.

With a candidate base of over 4 million remote professionals, Kinetic can fill a wide range of positions from lawyers, accountants and engineers, to software developers, social media managers and system administrators.

(Say, your organization is looking for a Rockstar Marketing Staff. You can browse the full catalogue of marketing professionals by clicking here.)

Our clients not only enjoy the services of seasoned remote professionals but also significant savings in their labour costs—around 70%.

If this is something you want to explore for your business, or if you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.   

Free EBook download

The Complete Guide To Remote Staffing

Find out how thousands of companies around the world are saving up to 70% off labour costs – for free!

Contact us

FOR APPLICANTS: please visit our job openings page here.