Working from home appears, in essence, to be an absolutely ideal scenario. You can wake up five minutes before you have to log on to your computer, you can get away with wearing pyjamas, and you can take a couple of minutes here and there to complete all of those niggling chores that are too much effort at the end of a day in the office.
For many people, working remotely is the best way of being productive, and these individuals tend to get much more done when they are removed from the everyday hustle and bustle of the office environment. However, this does not mean that there will not be challenges and hurdles to overcome.
Operating from home has its difficulties and nearly everyone who refrains from heading into an office and makes the conscious decision to utilise their living space as a working space will at one time or another find themselves in a spot of difficulty.
However, while this is the case, there is no reason why working from home should not be a long-term option. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the key challenges that remote workers tend to face, and highlight what can be done to overcome any problems.
1. Staying engaged and focused
This is probably the most common problem associated with working from home. When working from home you have any number of distractions around you – TV, games consoles, that pile of laundry to wash – and you will have to remain vigilant to ensure these don’t get in the way. This can be mitigated in a number of ways. For example, you should dedicate a very specific space to work – if you have the ability to create an office room, do it – so that there are no immediate distractions around you. Leave your personal mobile phone in a different room and check it infrequently. Do everything you can to keep your personal and work life separate.
If you have the space to create a dedicated home office, do it!
2. Retaining morale
Working from home means, generally, you’ll be on your own for extended periods of time. You won’t have the luxury of taking a wander to the coffee machine and having a quick natter about the latest football results, nor will you be able to chat to your desk neighbour about the latest episode of Love Island. This solidarity can be difficult, especially in the first few weeks and months, but generally speaking, you will get used to it over time. You can always chat to colleagues via email or instant messenger if you want to have a quick catch-up, but you will, undoubtedly, have to get used to being in your own company. Getting a cat or a dog can, in some circumstances, be a great idea for someone working from home.
3. Escaping the house
An inevitable consequence of working from home is that your work life and your home life will begin to blend. You will, if you are not careful, end up spending the vast majority of your life within the same four walls, and so it is vital that you take the time to get out of the house. Try taking up a hobby, joining the gym, or planning evenings together with friends, as this will not only get you out of the front door but will also give you something to look forward to.
4. Effective time management
Without having a boss peering over your shoulder, it can be very easy to develop a timeline and working routine that is somewhat unorthodox. Should this happen, you should consider using your calendar more efficiently and create a daily schedule of what you need to achieve, how much time each task should be allocated, and how many tasks you’ll likely be able to tick off. This will not only help you be more efficient, but it will mean you can inform management of your plans, and can garner assistance from fellow employees in good time if it looks like you have too much work on your hands.
Create a schedule so that you can structure your work from home day
5. Efficient communication with colleagues and clients
Working from home means you have to take on additional levels of responsibility. You are completely in control of making sure that meeting and phone calls are arranged and take place, and you also then have to communicate any outcomes to the necessary people. This can be mitigated by simply remaining vigilant and attentive. Make copious notes, understand all of the various complexities, ensure that any potential complications are either ironed out or are well understood, and then relay this information immediately. There is no benefit to sitting around and waiting to send an email because that’s when things get forgotten and bigger problems arise. The right intranet software tools can help you to stay on top of communications, and also be kept up to date on what is happening in the wider company.
Working from home is not something to be afraid of, but it is something that you certainly need to be prepared for. If you can understand that these challenges are likely to occur, and take steps to ensure they aren’t detrimental in the long term, you’ll be able to master the art of working remotely. Embracing the digital workplace will give you flexibility and control over your own schedule, while also allowing you to be a valuable colleague, so ensure that you have the skills and mindset required to thrive.