Working remotely has increased its popularity over the past years. It has even become a new norm when the COVID-19 outbreak happened. Companies and individuals are transitioning to a remote work setup.
Either voluntary or involuntary, it is best to be aware of the unique challenges of working remotely so that you will be prepared and if possible avoid these issues.
Without the daily commutes to and from the office, you might think that you have so much time now that you work from home. Well yes, if you know how to manage your time effectively.
In a traditional office setting, you have a scheduled time in and out where you can focus on office work. Unlike when your office is at home, you can do your work and household chores altogether. You can be easily tempted to do some household chores in between office work.
You might also overestimate how much time you have to complete a task until you realize that the deadline is already staring at your face.
To avoid these pitfalls, try to create a realistic schedule. Don’t flood your to-do list with so many tasks that you can’t finish. Include household chores in it as well in order for you to know how much time you can allot for each task.
Identify your priorities and try to finish the most important task first. It will boost your motivation to work on the less important ones.
Lastly, give your undivided attention to each of your scheduled tasks. Keep away from browsing Facebook or sneaking on your Instagram account while you’re in the middle of an important project. Instead, include it in your schedule.
You can even insert Netflix between time-consuming tasks if it helps you relax and refocus on the task ahead.
Working at home has a lot of distractions than in a traditional office. Distractions can ruin your schedule if you can’t resist the urge to stop while working on a certain task. It is also important to know what really distracts you because it’s much easier to avoid once you become aware of it.
How do you do just that?
If you’re new to working remotely, talk to your family members first. Inform them of the changes. Tell them to give you space and time to do your work. Create a signal system for them to know if you’re working and should not be disturbed.
Assign a space in your house for your work. One that is free from noise and possible distractions. Doing so helps boost your productivity.
Cellphones and other gadgets are added distractions, too. Keep your cellphone or any other gadget at a distance when you don’t need it in your work. In this way, you will not be tempted to check it while you’re still working on an important task.
Aside from distractions inside your home, there are also outside distractions like visiting relatives or friends.
There are times when your relatives or friends may make a surprise visit. When that happens, be honest with them and tell them that you are working at home and you have a deadline to catch. If it is someone close to you, tell him/her to inform you ahead before dropping by.
This is crucial when you’re working remotely. You need to communicate more to make sure that everyone understands each other.
Since most communication happens through emails and messaging, proper punctuations, grammar, and capitalization matters. You can easily be misunderstood because there’s no intonation involved. If possible, schedule a video conference.
If your relationship with your client is on the business-casual side, you can include emojis to better convey what you feel.
Set a certain time to communicate if you’re in different time zones. It can be frustrating when you want some questions answered immediately and your colleague or boss is not responding. Maybe because you have different time zones or some other matters that you’re not aware of.
It’s different when you’re in the office where you can simply go to your colleague’s or boss’s table to ask them personally, but that’s not possible in a remote office situation.
Be persistent if you need clarifications. Don’t just wait for an answer. Do follow-ups in a nice way. To effectively communicate, you must be proactive and transparent. Be clear on what you understand about the instructions and do your best.
Maintaining your physical fitness is much more challenging when you work from home. It is easy to fall into bad health habits. You miss the daily office routine which provides some health benefits like having some vitamin D and a little walking during commutes.
Some offices have daily routines like stretching exercises before their employees start to work. When you’re working remotely, you’re not obliged to do those routines. Schedule regular desk exercises or yoga as part of your daily routine or continue doing your exercise routine at home.
Set alarms for meal breaks to get at least three meals per day. Sometimes when you’re too busy you forget to eat or eat at a much later time.
Skipping meals is an unhealthy habit that leads to overeating and obesity. The fixed lunch breaks in the office ensure you won’t forget to eat and you’re eating at the right time.
Your sleeping habits can be affected too. Waking and sleeping late when done frequently, can contribute to health issues in the long run. It is hard to have a consistent schedule when you are at home. Sometimes you work until the wee hours to finish something, in the office, it is rarely done or is not possible.
Have a consistent schedule that you can follow. Include in your schedule when you will start working and when to stop, your break times, your daily dose of sunshine, and exercise routines.
Working alone without anyone to chat or vent your frustrations can be hard. Even introverts need social interaction too. You will miss the instant “watercooler” moments with your colleagues during lunch breaks.
At first, you might not notice it, but eventually, you will feel lonely. To compensate for those missed moments, you can set a time to go out and bond with your friends.
However, with the situation we are in right now, it is best to use online communication channels to socialize with friends and colleagues. You can create group chats or use video conferencing apps to meet with friends.
Make sure to include fun stuff in your conversation to lessen work-related frustrations.
This is a big challenge when you’re just starting out working remotely. When you’re working in a traditional office, everything is provided. You don’t have to worry about the programs and applications you need to install and use. In working remotely, you have to do all those stuff, and it adds to the burden when you have limited resources.
To minimize this issue, you have to do in-depth research on applications and software if it is really necessary and makes your work productive before you purchase them. You can save a lot of resources by not buying applications or software you rarely use.
Perhaps, this is not an issue in highly developed countries, but this is a common problem here in the Philippines. Offices and business establishments are making sure that they have reliable internet connectivity. They pay much higher rates compared to residential connections.
You can have a business plan at home if you want, but with some restrictions. Some internet service providers offer only business plans at certain geographical locations, mostly at business districts where a lot of businesses are located.
It can be that their business plans are not available in your area. Others also require a business permit to avail of their business plans.
Another thing is the internet signal strength and lost internet connectivity. Some ISP’s have weak signal strength in some areas and others have an intermittent internet connection.
Before you decide, try to ask your neighbors or your community on what is the best ISP in your area. It is also good to have a back-up plan when your internet stops working. You can have a cell phone plan or portable wifi that allows tethering in case your internet goes out.
The thing is, you have to pay a higher cost if you want to have a fast and reliable internet connection.
Finally, even with those common challenges above, working remotely has more benefits than a traditional office setup can offer. You can enjoy these benefits if you know what you’re getting into and how to handle the unique challenges that come with it.
Source: Torque Mag