Working remotely comes with its own set of unique challenges you won’t find in a traditional office space. Whether voluntary or involuntary – if you’re one of the millions who are quarantined or self-isolating due to the recent virus outbreak – you need to know what you’re in for so you can prepare.
Remote work has a lot of benefits such as setting your own hours and working in your pajamas. But if you’re not ready for the challenges they might take you completely off guard.
If you find yourself struggling to manage time, self-motivate, communicate, and take care of your physical and mental health, you have come to the right place. Be aware of these common problems and know exactly how to tackle them, and your work from home, whether permanent or temporary, will go a lot smoother.
Remote Working Challenge #1: Self-Motivation
When you’ve never had to set your own hours or entirely motivate yourself before, relying on your own self-control will often end in disaster. What a structured office environment has going for it is that it’s very helpful for keeping focus.
It’s much easier to get off track on your personal computer in a house packed with kids, spouses, and/or pets. A quick peek at social media or a sudden intrusion from an unwelcome visitor, and you could get thrown off for minutes or hours.
In addition, while sitting around at home, you might find it difficult getting into – or out of – the professional mindset. When you’re used to following a set routine and driving to your job every day, it’s hard to associate the comforts of home with difficult tasks.
Solution: Create a Better Environment
The reason offices and similar environments are so effective are because they’re structured and distraction-free. The solution here: emulate this environment while creating your own professional setup.
Make it as strict or as casual as suitable for you, but think about what makes a typical workspace so effective. No matter how much space you have, you can make your own little office.
Create a workspace away from the chaos of the rest of your home, in a spare bedroom, or at least tucked into a quiet corner. Keep this area organized, clean, and free of anything that could draw you out of your focus.
If possible, have a separate work computer to minimize distractions. No games or fun apps to tempt you, just a browser and any programs you need for your job. Keep your phone out of easy arm’s reach and on silent except for calls from clients, coworkers, or your boss.
Shut out pets and talk to your housemates to prevent an interruption that could throw you off your game. If your home is too loud and you can’t get anyone to quiet down, music or soundscapes can help block it out.
Remote Working Challenge #2: Time Management Issues
When distraction kicks in, struggles with time management quickly follow. Working in a disruptive environment full of traps that could easily sidetrack you, you’re likely to overestimate how much time you have (or just not think about it until the deadline is suddenly on the horizon).
On the flip side, overexerting yourself is another big issue. Without a clear clock-out time and a pile of assignments that need to get done, many people push themselves into exhaustion.
Solution: Follow a Strict Schedule
A structured environment will do wonders for your productivity, but you should include a set schedule to pair with it. Remote work offers a degree of flexibility, but you still need to be consistent. If it’s more comfortable for you to wake up later than usual, do so, but get up and go to bed at the same time every day.
Also, make sure to start and especially stop work at consistent times. Don’t let yourself slip into starting too late, or worse, pushing yourself deep into the night. Schedule plenty of breaks and give yourself a few minutes to step away and relax. If you start to feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to leave your workspace for a brief impromptu refresh.
While you’re working, time tracking software can help you see the sites and programs you’re losing precious hours to. If you have trouble cutting these vices out, use a website/app blocker to prevent you from accidentally slipping and launching a game or visiting social media.
Lastly, stay on top of your projects. Keep a calendar for marking due dates that can help you get everything in order. Break your projects into pieces and use your calendar to make sure you’re staying on top of it all.