Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - Four Common Problems in The Modern Workplace—And How to Avoid Them

Four Common Problems in The Modern Workplace—And How to Avoid Them

Yes, it is true that there is much to be excited about when it comes to the "future of work." From more work flexibility to better facilitation of workplace collaboration, there is much good on the horizon. Nevertheless, these pros don't come without some cons. Along with the positive, many issues have arisen that are associated with the "modern" workplace.

The advances have brought on more complex situations that project managers have to deal with. Whether you have been managing projects for six months or six years, you have likely had to deal with one or more of the issues mentioned below. Today, we will bring attention to the common problems happening in today's workplace, and give you tips on how to deal with them.

Meeting Overload

If you are a project manager, the chances are high that meeting with your team is likely a major part of your team's weekly routine. You want to hear about their project updates, answer any questions they have, and assign tasks in person. This generation's workers have increasingly embraced decentralized leadership styles, making the act of meeting with others a more popular tactic.

Unfortunately, this increase in meetings can sometimes do more harm than good. Research has shown that executives are spending 23 hours a week in meetings, a sharp increase from the 10 hours typical in the 1960s. Needless meetings can derail productivity and keep your team from accomplishing what they need to.

Here are some ways you can avoid this pitfall:

  • Only invite people who need to be there - Everyone may not need to be in attendance. Solely focus on inviting people who need to contribute information or need instructions from you.
  • Set a timer - Before you start the meeting, set up a time for you all to start and finish. This action will help you to ensure things stay moving and on topic.
  • Distribute an agenda ahead of time - Give your team a heads up about what you are going to talk about, and let your team members know if they need to bring any information ahead of time.

Only schedule all-team meetings when necessary, and keep everyone on topic. The more you stick to the agenda and are intentional about what you are covering, the more productive your meetings will be.

Managing Time Zones

The emergence of remote work has made it much easier to have teams spread out worldwide. This is great, as your talent pool is no longer limited. Nevertheless, some challenges can arise when it comes to managing global teams.

How do you ensure your team is getting the support they need if you are sleeping while some of your team members are awake and working? Buffer's 2020 State of Remote Work Survey revealed that 10 percent of their respondents cited being in a different time zone as a challenge.

How do you overcome this issue?:

  • See where you can overlap - You want to see where some of your team's time zones overlap. For example, if you have teams working on the east coast of the United States, you may want to schedule meetings around 7:30 or 8:00 am so that individuals in Europe can participate. See what your staff's workdays are, and try to schedule meetings (formal and informal) when business hours overlap. You may even want to do the same with your team's actual work time.
  • Invest in an IM app tool - You want to make sure your teams have a solid opportunity to instantly communicate with others. Your team member in Japan may only have one hour to collaborate with someone in California before the former's workday is over. Giving them an IM tool to communicate ensures they can still try to work with other workers even if their time zones are different.
  • Make sure everyone has access to the right documents - It's frustrating if someone needs to work on something, but they do not have the correct document permissions. Be sure to remind everyone how important it is to store documents in the right place and to give permission to colleagues to work with the files they need on cloud storage networks.

Having workers located in various time zones can actually be an advantage if managed correctly. The goal is to ensure that your team can adequately communicate and work with one another using the right digital tools.

Encouraging Training and Development

Workers want to improve. They want to learn new skills and bring more talents to their jobs. As a project manager, it benefits you to train your teams on the latest tactics.

Even though it is understood that training and development are important, it can be challenging to ensure everyone gets the education they need. From ensuring that your team has the time to train to being able to afford it, it can be a challenge to make sure your team members receive training.

Here's how you can handle this:

  • Invest in job shadowing - You may not have the funds to send professionals to conferences, but you can still ensure they learn something new. Allow your team members to shadow other professionals. This action can encourage mentorship and create more opportunities for in-house hiring.
  • Don't forget about tools like or Skillshare - Today, we have a variety of affordable online tools for training. Platforms like, Skillshare, and even General Assembly can offer excellent training.

When it comes to training and development, especially during these times, you have to be creative and open to considering novel ways to provide education for your teams.


The modern workplace has an engagement problem. In the U.S., Gallup has found that 66 percent. of workers are disengaged. This can lead to a lack of workplace satisfaction and motivation and a severe drop in productivity. Keeping your team members engaged is paramount to creating exceptional project deliverables. Ultimately, you have to figure out tactics to keep your team involved in the work they do. This will benefit collaboration and team communication.

How can you do this?:

  • Give your team members feedback - Many workers thrive on feedback. They want to know that they can do better. When you offer regular feedback to your team members, you empower them to change their approach and figure out what works.
  • Offer recognition - It never feels good not to be appreciated for the work you do. So, don't subject your team to that feeling. A simple "thank you" can go a long way.
  • Let your team members take the lead - Workers like to know they are trusted to do great work. An excellent way to do this is to allow them to take ownership of a portion of the project. In addition to giving them autonomy, this tactic also lets them know you trust them.

High engagement can correlate with high levels of productivity. The more you make your team excited about what they do, the more likely they are to produce high-quality work.

Final Thoughts

There are many issues associated with today's workplace. Nevertheless, while the issues above are common ones that many companies face, your team may be dealing with these and other unique problems. Start addressing these roadblocks by listening. Survey your team, and find out where changes need to happen. Before you know it, you will be creating sound solutions for your most pertinent issues.


Employee Engagement on the Rise in the U.S.,

Stop the Meeting Madness,

The 2020 State of Remote Work,