Monday, February 5, 2024

Overcoming the Barriers to Remote Work

Despite its many benefits, remote work also brings its own challenges. Understand what they are, and how to fix them.
Photo by Susanna Marsiglia on Unsplash

In previous articles, we discussed lots of best practices for remote and async teams. At this point, most understand the benefits of remote work for companies and employees. For companies, some of the benefits are global availability of resources, lower costs and increased capacity. For employees, seen are flexibility, global collaboration, increased autonomy, work-life balance, and more.

However, despite its popularity, remote work has its own challenges. So are some guidelines that you (and your team) should be aware of when working on a remote/async setting.

Barriers to Async work (and how to fix them)

Communication Gaps

Without real-time communication, there may be delays in responding to questions or issues, which can slow down decision-making and problem-solving. Make sure that documentation is always kept up to date and teams understand where to find it.


Written communication can sometimes lack the nuances of verbal communication, leading to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of messages. Establish a code of conduct for the team and foster safe zones of communication so that noise is minimized.

Time Zone Differences

When team members are spread across different time zones, coordinating work and communication can be challenging and it may lead to extended response times and difficulties in scheduling meetings or discussions. Document the different timezones your team operates in, and coach team members to respect their own personal time.

Overload of Information

Async work often involves written documentation and messages. Information overload can occur when there is too much documentation or communication to process effectively. Create effective documentation so everything is searchable, reducing the burden on one's memory.

Lack of Spontaneity

Async work may lack the spontaneity of face-to-face or real-time interactions, making it challenging to address urgent issues promptly. Make sure virtual happy hours exist with the purpose of social integration. If team members live near each other, facilitate in-person events.

Dependency on Written Skills

Some team members may struggle with written communication skills, leading to less effective collaboration in an async environment. If one can't write good documentation, distribute the task among other team members.

Difficulty in Fostering Creativity

Collaborative brainstorming and idea generation may be less effective in async settings where spontaneous discussions are limited. Leverage virtual boards such as Miro (or Figma) and encourage everyone to collaborate.

Dependency on Technology

Async work relies heavily on technology and digital tools. Technical issues or downtime can disrupt work and communication. Make sure team members go through necessary trainings, that they understand how to effectively communication and have proper access to documentation. Finally, encourage recordings so the unavailable can follow up later.


Ensuring that tasks are completed and deadlines are met can be more challenging in an async environment without real-time monitoring and follow-up. Make sure teams understand the project deadlines. Use boards like Jira that increase accountability and awareness of the deliverables.

Cultural Differences

Different cultures have varying norms and expectations around communication and work styles. These differences can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts in async teams. Make sure the environment is respectful, and team members understand and respect cultural differences.


To overcome these barriers, organizations and teams can implement strategies and best practices, such as providing training, setting clear expectations, establishing communication protocols, and selecting appropriate tools.

However, it's essential to recognize that async work is not suitable for all situations and to strike a balance between async and synchronous work when necessary to meet the needs of the team and the nature of the work being done.

About the Author

Bruno Hildenbrand