remote work challenges

The 7 biggest remote work challenges and how to overcome them

Remote work is forcefully becoming a thing. A statistic from Gallup states six out of ten companies are willing to offer their workers the chance to telecommute, and some 43 per cent of employees work from home most of the time.

You no longer have to endure those soul-crushing commutes and managers or supervisors hanging over your shoulder. Remote work with all its bliss comes to its challenges. Ask anyone who works as a telecommuter or runs their own business from home: It’s not always sunshine and butterflies. A United Nations international labour organisation’s report shows remote workers are most vulnerable working longer hours than most. 

Read also: 7 Ways the Internet is Providing Remote Job Opportunities for Women

The good news is that once you acknowledge these challenges are real and happen to most people that work from home, you can easily overcome them.

Challenge #1: You Just Can’t Put a Stop on Work

remote worker feeling overworked

Many managers don’t fancy remote work for employees who will slack off when working without in-sight supervision. On the contrary, remote workers are more likely to work overtime. With the home-office interference, many struggles to put off work. 

Jeff Gothelf says it is tough to create a hard line between work/home. And this gets worse if you’re working for yourself. You might find yourself in a never-ending sales mode, which can be exhausting.

Here at Konveyo, the team is currently 100% remote. Several team members confess they have a hard time knowing when is a reasonable time to stop or take breaks. 

Work is endless. You will always have something to solve. When you have an office, it’s easy to keep working. But it’s a different ball game when you work from home. Since your home is your office, it’s easy to make it a habit of closing small tasks even after work hours. 

How to avoid overworking 

 

Well, the truth is if you don’t want to burn out, You might need to trick yourself into taking breaks and setting obvious open and close times.  Try any of the following: 

  • Set appointments that get you out of the office. It can be an appointment to go to the gym or to read the next chapter of the book you’re currently into.  
  • Set reminders to take breaks. Timing your day with the Pomodoro technique can help as well. 
  • Be clear with your team about when you are closing and then actually shut down your computer. 
  • Create physical boundaries between you and your workspace. It’s best if you have a dedicated workspace so you can shut the office door. If you don’t have a home office, try putting your laptop out of sight when work has ended. It can help you avoid the temptation to log back on just to handle the small task. 
  • Lastly, turn off all notifications on your phone and computer.

Challenge #2: the Feeling of loneliness

remote worker feeling lonely

Sometimes you might develop a cabin fever from being in the same space by yourself for too long. It is usually the case when you live all by yourself. Kean Graham the CEO of ad tech MonetizeMore says, “It is all too easy to get in the habit of working from home all day, and then remain in your home for the remainder of that day and sometimes for subsequent days.” 

As a remote worker who often works nonparallel with your teammates, you perhaps have only your houseplants to talk to. 

Read Also:10 Questions to help you Determine whether Freelancing is Right for you

How to not feel isolated when working from home

The following might help to help you strike a balance. 

  • Include social breaks in your schedule. For example, work a few hours then spend some time doing some social activities outside of your home. You might find having lunch with friends or going out and grabbing a snack while chatting with the counter person rejuvenating. 
  • Work at co-working spaces or coffee shops- you’ll at least feel like you’re still a part of society. Think of it as your second office.
  • Find a Meetup, attend networking conferences, or take some classes at your town’s recreation centre.

Challenge #3: Poor Communication with team members

Poor communication among teammates is a headache for remote workers. Having differing work schedules, waiting long hours for feedback on tasks, and a lack of collaboration tools make it difficult for you to share ideas with your team members. 

One way you can overcome these barriers is to use the proper channels to communicate with your teammates. For example, if you work in a team made up of people who work different hours during the week, then it may be problematic to arrange virtual meetings that everyone can attend. In this case, you can look for a video conferencing tool that goes well with your calendars, allowing you to choose the time that works best for everyone.

Also, use a collaboration suite that lets you work on documents with your teammates simultaneously. With software like this, they can complete tasks together in real-time without waiting for feedback. As you start adding more space to work in parallel with your colleagues, it will be less problematic to work with them.

Sometimes working in a team that works in different time zones can cause you to feel left out of the loop. You might be waking up just when your colleague is going to bed. So you won’t always have your teammate available to answer your pressing questions or solve immediate problems.

How to solve time zone problems for remote teams

remote workers on video conference call

If remote work is to be successful, you’ll have to be ready for some overlap with the hours your teammates are putting in. We’ve had to make some adjustments to our work hours to give room for a four-hour overlap to avoid collaboration delays and feel like a team. Remote workers need to be flexible when working with others in different time zones.

Challenge #4 You have trouble Prioritizing work

An important skill to learn as a remote worker is time management. Remember, there is no boss constantly managing our time for you. Flexible freeform days, a manager living in another part of the world can make it hard to stick to a work schedule. 

Managing your work is already tough. And then there’s the persistent lure to watch an episode of your beloved show during a break from work, tidying up the mess in your room when you’re lingering on a project. Then Suddenly, evening comes, and you have nothing to show during the day.

Read also: A 10-step guide to better time management for freelancers

How to make sure you get the most important work done

 

  • It is very likely to procrastinate on your biggest task if you don’t do something about it first. So Use your mornings to go all-in on them.
  • It is not advisable to put so many tasks in a single day. That can become overwhelming and cause you to procrastinate. Use the 1-3-5 rule- plan to do just 1 big task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 small things per day. 
  • Manage your energy, not your time. You might notice your motivation wanes during the day, so tackle tasks according to how much of your energy they’ll take and how much focus they require at different times during the day.

Challenge #5 Dealing with distractions

work from home can have many distractions

Working from home can bring about distractions- family members requesting more of your time or those never-ending notifications from your phone may be too irresistible to ignore. Staying motivated lying comfortably on your couch every day can also be a challenge. 

If you have young kids, It’s especially hard. How do you repeatedly explain to them you don’t have the time to play? Repeatedly saying, “no, I don’t have time to play with you now” is painful. Here is what can help deal with home distractions. 

How to deal with distractions when you work from home

There is no unique way to avoid all the distractions from your family, pets, delivery people, and yes, neighbours (almost forgot that). It is important to be clear about the kinds of distractions you will attend to immediately and which ones can wait. Also:

  • Set up something that lets others know when you’re in work mode. It could be a do not disturb sign on your office door or put on your headphones (works for me all the time). Sometimes you might have to lock your door and pretend you’re not home.
  • Explain why you need to avoid distractions- how being distracted makes your work ten times harder.
  • For young kids, you might have to get childcare or work only at times when they’re asleep.
  • Train your older kids and others to be self-sufficient. It’s annoying to be interrupted because you’re the only person who knows where the can opener is.
  • Set your work hours and stick to it. Avoid calls during work hours. 
  • If all else fails, escape. You can try working out of home in a co-working space, the library, or a coffee shop.

Challenge #6: Technology hitch

remote worker dealing with poor internet connection

Technology gap can compromise a team’s work. For example, your team collaborates on projects or documents, but you can’t tap into the file hosting service so the team can work together. This can lead to version issues.

Also, if your remote internet connection (or cell signal) is unreliable, It can be a big problem. Attorney Elizabeth Potts Weinstein says, “by far the biggest challenge is being able to count on a reliable and fast internet hookup. We do our research in advance, but that does not mean that speed and stability are guaranteed, especially in developing countries.”

To control this, ensure you have the right technology to support connectivity. It may seem like a minor problem, but many remote workers have suffered and have been unable to work from places where phone coverage and internet speeds don’t measure up, said Ron Hume, a remote worker.  

For your peace of mind and to avoid delays in your work, create a backup plan. A portable hotspot, such as a MiFi or mobile phone tethering, can save you time when the internet is down. A backup computer, or even a tablet, can help you get through the day until you can fix your computer.

Similarly, if your team is collaborating on projects or documents, make sure you can use a file hosting service to help the teamwork without having version problems. You need to have access to the same technology as your computer. What if your team doesn’t have collaboration tools? Push your boss for them! It is finally the 21st century.

Challenge #7 Bad health habits

When you work from home, it’s easy to slip into bad health habits. It could be cigarettes, alcohol, or even binge-eating. The comfort of home, where everything is always so accessible, only stimulates these types of addictive behaviours, so it’s up to you to find out what your weak spot is and control it.

You might have the opposite problem of going head-on without common lunch breaks.

Exercise can also fall to the side when you work too hard, and you may forget to get out a lot. Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

There is no magic pill for this too. Try setting reminders for yourself in your calendars or on a to-do app to eat a salad or do some yoga.

Despite the challenges above, working from home is rewarding. Research shows that remote workers are happier and more productive than their office counterparts. They report lower pressure levels, and the carbon footprint is lower without the need for travel. 

 

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