6 Biggest Challenges of Working from Home and How to Overcome Them
April 1, 2020
Working remotely has its perks. No daily commute in the morning. The flexibility to work when you want to. No strict dress code (unless you have online meetings!). But it also has its disadvantages. It can be hard to stay motivated. You aren’t working alongside your team. And you don’t have colleagues to interact with.
Here's a list of some of the most common issues faced by remote workers and tips for coping with them.
1. Staying organized
When you’re working in the same space you live in, it can be easy to get disorganized. So if you have the space, try working in a different place than where you spend your leisure time. This helps you separate work and play. If this isn’t possible, try to keep your work desk (kitchen table, etc.) organized and tidy.
Chanty, an AI-powered Slack alternative, also recommends keeping your computer desktop tidy, spending a small amount of time a day organizing folders, files, and images, and clearing out your trash.
Abbey, an employee from Stack Overflow, an online community for developers., says, when working remotely, “It’s been crucial for me to designate space and time for work, even when I’m living in a place without much room to spare. Even just having a few square feet in the corner that I don’t use for anything else helps a ton with being able to switch ‘work brain’ on and off.”
Zapier, an online automation tool, also offers some advice: “If you don't have a dedicated office, even something as simple as putting your laptop out of sight when work has ended can help you avoid the temptation to log back on. Or you can try sectioning off part of a room for work so it feels like a separate space.”
2. Managing your time
Software developer Hubspot recommends scheduling your day like a normal day in the office to help manage yourself: “To stay on schedule, segment what you'll do and when over the course of the day. If you have an online calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks.”
There are a host of apps available to help you plan and use your time more efficiently. Trello offers a card-based approach to project management, based on the Kanban method. It allows you to get an overview of your tasks at a glance and helps you to get things done. Asana is a project management app that helps you to get organized and stay on track. ProofHub is another project management tool with task management, schedules and communication. And Evernote helps you to create and organize your notes.
3. Remembering to take regular breaks
Without a structure and being in a different environment, you might forget to take regular breaks. Breaks can increase mental wellbeing and productivity. Looking at the data of its productivity app, DeskTime found that the most productive 10 percent of their users did 52 minutes of work, followed by a 17-minute break. The key is working efficiently. Try setting alarms on your phone to help remind you to take breaks.
4. Switching off
Speaking literally and metaphorically here, sometimes it can be hard to see where your work ends and leisure time begins when working remotely. Because you’re working from home, people might expect you to be available to do household chores or engage in long conversations about things unrelated to work. That's why it’s important to set boundaries, letting people know what you can and will respond to or engage in during work hours, and what you can’t or won’t.
Having a set finish time could also help you to separate things. And it can help to not check emails or not be available on chat channels until your work is completed. Depending on the communication app you use, you may be able to set your status to “away” or “offline.”
In the office it can be easy to ask colleagues for information or updates. You might be in the same room or just a quick walk down the hall away. You don’t have this when you’re working remotely.
The good thing is there are lots of tools out there that can help with connecting. Business communication apps such as Chanty and Slack make it easy to talk to your members of your team and organize your correspondence. And if you usually have one-on-one meetings with your manager when you're in the office, it can be even more important to keep them up while you work remotely, making sure to use these meeting times wisely.
It can also be helpful to establish guidelines. Saberr, which creates leadership development software, recommends setting out “team norms” or guidelines for communicating remotely such as which communication channels colleagues should be available on and when, and when team meetings are held.
6. Socially interacting
Interacting with other people is a positive aspect of many jobs. Yes, you’re there to work, but social contact is also important and can help with productivity. Having a feed in your chosen communication app devoted to unrelated to work topics could help.
Two ways the recruiting firm HiringThing creates these missed water-cooler moments are: 1) “Week Preview Meetings,” which are Monday meetings where people discuss work plans for the week, and are also allowed to talk about weekend events and other non-work-related things; and 2) “Happy Fun Time,” which includes fun activities curated by a company’s HR team such as answering workplace trivia and posting fun throwback images.
The point is to make sure to take the time while you’re working remotely to socially connect with others. This is more important now than ever, with so many people alone, working from home.
Nick Stephens is a content writer at Chanty, a simple and AI-powered Slack alternative. Nick is specializing in the digital marketing niche. He has an unhealthy obsession with conversion rates and sales funnels. When he isn’t writing you can find him DJ-ing at festivals and parties.