More flexible working hours, reduced commuting costs, no distracting co-workers, and the ability to work wherever you desire. Working remotely can sound very idealistic, but some telecommuters would disagree.
For people working remotely or running their businesses from home, there are some serious challenges that they can face on a daily basis. Some of the potential challenges include overworking, constant interruptions and distractions, communication issues, and a feeling of isolation.
These challenges could make remote working a negative experience, rather than a positive one. Below are some tips on how you can navigate around the challenges to make the most of your remote work arrangements:
1. The risk of overworking
Most managers fear that by allowing workers to work remotely, the reduced supervision will make them work less. In reality, remote workers face the problem of switching between work and personal life when both are under the same roof.
For most people working remotely, planning when to begin or end their day can become difficult. This results in measuring time in tasks rather than hours. The outcome is that most of these people will sit in front of their computer screen for extended periods of time without even realising it.
Are you working longer than you should be when you work remotely?
Ensure employees remember to take breaks, as overworking could result in stress that compromises not only their quality of work but also their wellbeing. Here are some ideas to suggest to your remote workers:
- Set a task to do at the end of the day that involves getting away from their work area, such as meeting a client or buying supplies
- Set reminders for regular breaks to make sure hours don’t slip by unnoticed
- Create boundaries around the working area, to keep work time and break time separate
- Turn phone and email notifications off at the end of the day/during breaks to avoid work interruptions
2. Interruptions and distractions
One reason why some people prefer to work from home is to be close to their families even when they are working. This situation isn’t ideal, however, when you’re in the middle of an important conference call. The distractions when working from your house could range from your neighbour interrupting you for an idle chat to next door’s ongoing building work.
Since interruptions come from multiple sources, there is no way to get rid of them entirely but there are some measures your staff can take to limit them:
- Set up a dedicated working space that’s a “no-go zone” during working hours
- Set communication expectations to anyone in and around the house, explaining that quiet focus is needed between certain hours
- Keep social media and personal phones out of the way to avoid the temptation to check messages
Friends or neighbours distracting your work from home setup? Set some communication expectations to avoid interruptions.
3. Communication issues and feeling left out
When working remotely, it is easy to feel left out, especially if some people are working from the office. Communication methods like email are not ideal for solving conflicts, and can in fact inflame tensions between coworkers.
It is also easy to feel like decisions in the company are made without you when working remotely. Such feelings could demotivate employees and cause them to be less productive. An effective way to solve these communication problems is to ensure your message is passed as clearly as possible to avoid any misunderstandings. A good employee intranet portal will give you the vehicle to share company updates to the masses, as well as boosting collaboration and eliminating the FOMO (fear of missing out).
4. Feelings of isolation
Working from home with the only interaction being emails and phone conversations can lead to an employee feeling isolated with no proper human contact. To avoid this, schedule regular work events and social occasions to ensure employees have the opportunity to collaborate naturally in person and build relationships.
Tackle these remote working challenges, bring in the right digital workplace tech, and your staff and business can reap the rewards that working remotely brings.