The 3 Biggest Challenges of Working Remotely and How You Can Overcome Them

Most companies have transitioned to remote work in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and the uncertainties presented by it. While a remote work lifestyle may offer many advantages to both organizations and the employees, it presents some real challenges too, especially if you’re working out of the office and separated from the team for the first time. For most people, remote work may be demanding and hard notably in the beginnings.

As with anything, there are a few downsides to remote working and challenges to overcome as well. Let’s look into them:

1. Overcoming distractions

We all have seen those photos that terribly represent the effective remote work atmosphere; the photos where a parent uses one hand to hold their child whereas the other one to type on a laptop, most often lounging on a sofa or sitting on the living room floor.

It is easy to get sidetracked when you’re working from home and dealing with plenty of distractions (the unmowed lawn, the laundry, maybe your family members). Moreover, things get worse when there is no one to keep you off social media. The Facebook notifications or Twitter checks turn into an unscheduled break, which then brings your progress to halt.

What’s worse, with the abrupt transition to virtual work due to COVID-19, there may be a higher chance for you to settle with a suboptimal workspace and take on unexpected parenting responsibilities. But here’s what you need to do: make sure you have a dedicated workspace (something tidy, minimal and practical) where you can block out all distractions. You may even consider using a time tracking software to keep track of the time you spend on various tasks.

2. Unplugging from Work

It can be pretty difficult to separate your work and personal life when there is no commute or way to leave the office. You may end up checking work email, chatting with your co-workers or working any time you’re on Wi-Fi. Consequently, you keep working into the night, well past the time you were supposed to finish up. What’s more, you even worry about your boss thinking that you’re not working, so you overwork to appear busy.

Unplugging after the end of the day is important if you want to maintain your productivity. That being said, you need to set achievable targets for each day and routinely hit those targets to prevent backlog.

Switching off after work and getting a genuine break once you’ve ticked everything off the day’s list is necessary to start afresh the next day.

3. Fragmented Communication

Sometimes team communication gaps can take a toll on you when you’re working from home. You may be needing a quick yes or no, or a time frame of when something can get done, but your internal communication tool might not be serving its purpose. As a result, you could end up waiting hours for what could be a quick response in person.

What you need to do is, address the communication gaps to keep the work running smoothly. Adopt a messaging platform like Skype or Slack where all team members can chat in real time about any issues as they arise, or make use of cloud platforms for documents so everyone can participate and collaborate. Video conferencing is also a good idea for daily check-in meetings.

If you’re a manager, you shoulder the responsibility for establishing the rules of engagement. Set expectations for the frequency, ideal time and means of communication for your team.

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Author: Paul Keijzer

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