Chapter 4: Analysis and Findings
4.3 Interviews Results
4.3.4 Challenges of Telework
Participants reported various challenges associated with telework, both at the personal and team persceptive. Individual challenges included the lack of face-to-face communication, feelings of isolation, reduced social interaction, and maintaining boundaries between work and personal life. Team-level challenges comprised of effective communication and collaboration, coordinating schedules and deadlines, on-boarding and integrating new team members.
One of the challenges reported by participants was the lack of face-to-face communication.
Participants (n=4) noted that the lack of in-person interaction with colleagues and managers/supervisors could lead to miscommunication, which could affect their work outcomes.
“Sometimes you want to talk to your colleagues, but it's not always easy because they may be busy for call at a time that's convenient for you. So, you may have to use messages to communicate with them, but messages can be less clear than a conversation.” (M3)
“… it's easier in most cases, to show something or to train someone when you are just sitting beside the person.” (F2)
Isolation and reduced social interaction were identified as common challenges associated with telework. Participants (n=6) reported that the absence of daily interactions with colleagues and the lack of social support could lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection. The challenge of isolation was particularly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic when participants were required to telework due to the lockdowns and social distancing mandates.
“... challenge of teleworking is feeling lonely sometimes, especially when you're always working from home. You may miss the social interactions that you would normally have in the office...” (M2)
“This is the challenge of like just being blocked, let's say, in the house when you cannot even go to the nearest beach or something like that. This was very challenging during the COVID- 19 lockdown.” (F1)
Another challenge for participants (n=4) was maintaining boundaries between work and personal life. Telework sometimes blurred the lines between the two, making it difficult to switch off from work and engage in personal activities that could promote well-being and work-life balance. This pressure could lead to overworking and burnout, ultimately decreasing job satisfaction and productivity.
“... I find myself working more than when I used to go to the office. Before, I would work for the normal hours and then commute, but now that I work from home, and I work more than eight hours a day... and I know other people who are also working more than they used to.”
On the other hand, participants (n=4) reported no challenge in maintaining boundaries between work and personal life while teleworking. They found it easy to separate their work and personal life by turning off their work devices or setting clear work hours. By creating a clear distinction between work and personal time, these participants were able to maintain their work- life balance.
“It is easy for me to maintain boundaries between work and life when teleworking. I simply turn off my work devices after I finish my workday, and I don't check them until the next day.”
“I've been teleworking for a while now, and I haven't had much trouble switching between my job and my personal life... I also set clear work hours for myself, so I know when I'm supposed to be working and when I'm not.” (F4)
Effective communication and collaboration emerged as a significant challenge for teams teleworking (n=7). Participants noted that maintaining clear and effective communication with team members often required more proactive and deliberate efforts.
“So, you need to, you know, schedule meetings, send a message to people. Hey? Do you have time to talk a little bit? People are sometimes very busy... I think that is a little bit frustrating.”
“It's important for the team to be on the same page, and sometimes it's easier to do this when everyone is in the same office. You can get things done quickly by talking to your team in person instead of trying to communicate through messages or emails.” (F3)
Onboarding and integrating new team members into the existing team dynamic was more difficult in a telework setting (n=2), as the lack of face-to-face interaction made it harder to build rapport and establish a sense of belonging.
“... for newcomers, especially younger ones who have just joined our company. When you're new to a job, you need guidance and support to learn how things work. This can be really tough for them without seeing people face-to-face.” (F6)
Participants (n=3) noted that establishing a network of contacts can be challenging when teleworking. The lack of social interaction can make establishing relationships with colleagues more difficult, ultimately impacting the ability for effective networking.
“The other challenge, I think, for mode work is the establishing the networking. I think lack of this social interaction at some point affects your ability to establish those relationships.”
Overall, participants identified several telework challenges, such as maintaining boundaries between their work and personal life, effective communication and collaboration,
onboarding and integrating new team members, and establishing relationships. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the challenges associated with telework, particularly regarding isolation and reduced social interaction. Addressing these challenges could be essential for organisations to ensure successful telework experience.