Working remotely is something we’ve all experienced this year at some point, whether you’ve loved it or hated it – sometimes we don’t get to choose where we work from. Even though it offers flexible working hours and allows you to set your own working schedule, it still comes with its set of challenges.
We’ve put together a list of the biggest challenges you’ll face when working remotely and how to tackle them, one step at a time. Nonetheless, it is hard to adapt to change in your daily routine or work environment so give yourself time to fall into the new routine and don’t stress about getting everything planned done the first few days.
Problems with technology
Whether you’re working from home or a nearby café, having a stable internet connection is vital to working remotely. If your laptop is lagging or you don’t have a good cell signal on your phone, it can cause a delay in delivering work or getting any work at all.
Many public Wi-Fi hotspots like in cafes or restaurants are unreliable and even if it does work, you probably won’t be able to do more than simple tasks like sending an email
If you don’t have a strong internet connection, consider upgrading your data plan for better internet or invest in getting a mobile hotspot device in case of an outage, so you’ll always have a backup.
One of the most common and easiest things that happen when working from home is continuously getting distracted. Whether it is a family member, phone calls, pets, or chores like doing the laundry or cooking – there is always some distraction.
And as a result, your productivity decreases, and tasks that usually take a few hours in the office would stretch to days.
For starters, working remotely doesn’t mean you don’t have to create a work schedule for yourself and can work whenever you want. You can set a flexible schedule that works for you and your lifestyle, like working after the kids come home or staying up at night but you need to stick to this schedule for it to actually work.
Set your alarm in the morning (or before work), get out of bed, change out of your Pj’s, and set up your work station. Recent surveys have proven that working in your Pj’s makes you more comfortable and laid back and so your mind doesn’t process that it is time to work.
And finally, eliminate all distractions as best as possible. Put your phone on mute to avoid phone calls from friends and inform work colleagues they can reach you online through Skype or Slack, for example.
Inform your family members when you’ll be working so they’d know to not disturb you and set reasonable goals for yourself to reach every day.
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Not having a designated workspace
Separating your work life from your personal life can be difficult, especially if you work from home. Sometimes telling your family that you’re working isn’t enough to avoid distractions or not procrastinate.
At the office, you have your own cubicle or desk where you’re isolated and focused but at home, you usually find yourself wandering off to your couch with your laptop, sitting in front of the TV, or even getting back in bed.
To avoid blurring the line between your personal and work life, set aside a designated space for work, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a full-on home office if you don’t have space, it can also be a corner in your living room, the garage, or the kitchen isle.
If there’s a door, be sure to close it and hang a “Do not disturb” sign, and supply your office with all the tools you’ll need like noise-cancellation headphones, an internet router, laptop, a comfortable chair, etc.
Managing your schedule
Working remotely does mostly mean flexible working hours, but to avoid procrastination, sleeping in too late, and rather get work done, you’ll need to set regular working hours.
There are many efficient time management tools that you can use that can help you keep track of your working hours and breaks, you can even add shift notes on your progress on certain tasks to keep you motivated.
Following a schedule and having a set break every day will help you stay focused and maintain productivity; it’ll also give you more free time to spend with your family or go out with friends.
Communicating with your colleagues or clients
In-person meetings with your team are more effective than virtual meetings, as face-to-face communication provides a clear and direct connection between people.
You also don’t need to deal with a spotty internet connection or people not showing up to the meeting. If you’re an employee, be sure to stay connected with your boss to get a sense of direction and guidance when needed. Confirm your priorities and tasks beforehand and agree on deadlines together, to stay on track.
As a business owner, you need to ensure your team is on the same page and are easily communicating and collaborating. There are many project management tools like Zendesk, Asana, and Basecamp as well as collaboration tools like Google Drive, Slack, and Dropbox that can help everyone stay connected and up-to-date.
You can use project management tools to assign tasks, set deadlines, follow up on progress, and more. As for collaboration tools, they’re great for file sharing, editing, and file storage.
Schedule a weekly videoconference meeting where you meet with team leaders and discuss the past week as well as set new goals for the upcoming week; regularly checking in with your team members will ensure your supervision as a boss.
When you work from home, you’re no longer surrounded by your colleagues and there isn’t any more office gossip or business updates to keep things exciting.
With time, you’ll fall into a bad spot and the loneliness will settle in. Feeling isolated and lonely isn’t good for your mental or physical health and once you start being in a funk, try to pull yourself out of it!
Without the same office energy and encouragement, it is hard to stay motivated – especially when you’re working from home. So once a week, try to change your work location and work from a café or the library instead.
Create a change in your daily routine to keep things fresh, like going for a walk on your break or meeting your friends for coffee. You can also try reading or listening to self-development and motivational books on your break (or even during working if it won’t be a distraction!) to help keep you in a positive state.
Working too much
The opposite of slacking and procrastination happens as well, some people get so invested in their work that they overwork themselves and find it hard to end the workday.
When you live and work in the same space, the line between them gets blurry. Working too much can lead to insomnia, stress, and even depression.
By setting your working hours and having a set time every day when you finish working (no matter how important your current task is!), you’ll get used to your schedule and not overwork yourself.
It can be really easy to fall into the habit of checking your emails before bedtime or replying to that one last message after you’ve signed off. You need to set reminders for your breaks and be sure to take them and most importantly, let your colleagues know when you finish work so no one would disturb you afterward.
Lastly, if you still find yourself wandering back to your laptop, turn off your email and phone notifications and focus on enjoying your free time.
And finally, take things slowly
Working remotely is a big change for you, don’t expect to be great at it from the go. Give yourself the time to fall into your new routine and accept the change.
If you follow these few tips, you can overcome or avoid all of these challenges, and working from home can be as fun and as flexible as you thought it would be!
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Image Credit: By Anson0618