Working from home is a great way to skip the daily commute, the office stress, and wasted time. But what if you end up wasting more time when working remotely? What if you don’t actually get any work done?
The remote environment is full of distractions and anything could distract you. These obstacles can lead to a lot of complications and hamper with your work-life balance.
Remote work is definitely demanding and stressing at the beginning. Of course, the pros outweigh the cons, but only when you are able to tackle the challenges along the way.
Common Remote Work Challenges [And How To Overcome Them]
The remote work challenges are endless. But they are not difficult to overcome. The thing about working from home is that a little organization can go a long way. And if you step out of the chaos and build a working process, you'll find remote work a piece of cake.
You might think time management isn’t problematic when working remotely. After all, we are saving all that time that was wasted on office commutes and lunch breaks! But when your home is your office, defining a line between the two gets difficult and you might end up wasting half of your day.
Take into account all your personal duties before setting your work hours for the day and stick to your schedule to stay on track. Make use of time-tracking tools like Toggl to optimize your tasks.
Attorney Elizabeth Potts Weinstein who has worked remotely with her husband for three years says, "by far the biggest challenge is being able to rely on a stable and fast internet connection. We do our research ahead of time, but that doesn't mean that the speed and stability are guaranteed, particularly in developing countries."
You rely on two things to thrive in a remote environment - your laptop and a high-speed Wi-Fi. Make sure you always have a backup for both in case things go haywire. And I think everyone has had an experience when the Wi-Fi starts acting up for absolutely no reason!
You no longer have regular high-fives or coffee breaks with your colleagues. And this can leave you feeling a little lonely at times. Isolation is common for remote workers. Although you will communicate with your colleagues daily, you might still sometimes feel lonely when there is a slight dip in your morale.
You need to be your own cheerleader to overcome this challenge. Find a hobby, or something you like to do (could even be exercise) and make time for it daily. If you like having people around while working, step into a co-working space to enhance your productivity.
Bad Health Habits
Similar to your work, you need designated breaks to stay healthy. In a traditional office, employees have a designated time interval for lunch. But when working remotely, employees often forget to take a break and develop bad eating habits over time. Sure, home-cooked food sounds great for everyone. But not when you’re eating mayonnaise out of the jar.
Sitting at the same place for a long time, or working in your bed might lead to muscle pain and further lower your productivity. And sometimes, bad sleeping habits also develop over time.
The best way to overcome this and stay healthy is by planning your day. The first thing you should do in the morning before you start working is planning ahead and listing down everything that you need to and want to do during the day and manage your time accordingly. After all, a balanced diet, exercise, and proper sleep are also essential to stay healthy.
Finding a Creative Outlet
It is easier to find inspiration in a traditional office since there are so many people working around you. But when you work from home, it doesn’t happen the same way.
Do something every day that would take your mind off the four walls of your home workspace. It could either be a quick walk or learning how to paint. This will help you maintain a work-life balance and stay focused and determined with your work.
A hobby also helps your mind stay active which leads to enhanced creativity.
Engaging With the Team
Virtual engagement is exactly as difficult as it sounds. You would agree that getting to know someone without actually meeting them can be intimidating. But one has to engage with the team in order to better collaborate with them and foster a positive work culture.
Make some time for chit-chats during the week. Request your employer or manager to have a separate communication channel (if you don’t already have one) where the team members can engage with each other. And actively participate in team-building activities.
Engaging with your remote team will help the entire team progress and efficiently communicate and collaborate with each other.
Your remote team might have people from various cultures and different time zones. This can make communicating with them more difficult. And eventually, lead to miscommunication and confusion between you and the rest of the team.
To overcome this, you must interact with the team and often over-communicate to get a clear message across. Always double-check whether your message was understood or not and ask questions if you have to.
Use tools and request your manager to set communication guidelines for the entire team. For instance, we use Slack for instant communication and emails for the rest. This ensures that the entire team knows which message needs urgent attention and what can be taken up later.
Securing & Sustaining a Remote Career
If you can successfully overcome these remote work challenges, you will move towards a successful remote career.
There is no doubt that remote work will continue to become more ubiquitous in the coming years. And I hope that every one of you is a contributor to that future.
As we move towards the future of work, it is important that each one of you has (or developed) the ability to work remotely.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Remote Careers to learn more!