5 CHALLENGES OF WORKING REMOTELY
5 COMMON REMOTE WORK CHALLENGES (PLUS SOLUTIONS)
It’s no secret that working away from the office is increasingly more popular. Remote work may be more common than it used to be, but it still comes with its challenges. Here are a few common remote work pitfalls and how to sidestep them.
- Managing Projects
The biggest challenge with remote working is managing projects when your team is spread out across multiple locations. Whether it’s a mix of in-house and remote staff or an entire team of remote workers, managers are responsible for making sure deadlines are met and targets are hit.
Without having a physical presence, communication is more difficult and keeping track of individual tasks is problematic, especially for complex projects and large teams.
How to solve this problem
Thankfully, there are tools for just about every challenge a remote team manager could experience. Above all, you’re going to need some project management software to assign tasks and keep track of progress, an example is the monday.com application
- Technology Trips You Up
Office technology is usually business-grade and quick. But your remote internet hookup (or cell signal) may not be as reliable, and that can be a problem.
Check that you have the right technology to support connectivity an extra powerful router, for instance. “It may sound like a small issue, but many remote workers have suffered and failed trying to work from locations where phone coverage and internet speeds cannot meet the requirements of the job,” says Ron Humes, who works remotely for marketing firm Post Modern Marketing. “Make sure to check your service providers and even run necessary tests before settling on your remote location.”
Similarly, if your team collaborates on projects or documents, make sure you can tap into a file hosting service so the team can work together on things without version issues. You should have access to the same technology that your team does.
- Working Too much
One of the reasons many managers don't approve of remote work is they fear employees will slack off without that physical, in-person oversight. But, in fact, the opposite tends to be the reality: remote workers are more likely to overwork. When your personal life and your work are both under the same roof, it's harder to switch off.
How to avoid overworking
You might need to trick yourself to take breaks and set clear start and end times. Otherwise, you risk burnout. A few things that can help:
- Set appointments on your calendar for the end of the day to get yourself out of your home office. Maybe it's an "appointment" to go to the gym or go grocery shopping or just take a walk around the block. Maybe it's an appointment to read the next chapter of the book you're currently into.
- Similarly, set up reminders to take breaks.
- Be clear with your team on when you're leaving for example, by making a quick announcement in Slack and then actually shut down your computer.
- Create physical boundaries between you and your workspace. The best thing is if you have a dedicated office space so you can shut the office door or even lock it, as Cody Jones, Director of Partnerships at Zapier
- Turn off notifications on your phone and computer so you're not pulled back into work after hours.
- Managing Your Time
Many remote employees work from home, which means ample distractions (the dishes, the laundry, the un-mowed lawn, maybe your children and spouse) and it’s all too easy to get sidetracked.
If you’re ambitious, consider using time tracking software (try Time Camp or Toggl), which allows you to log time spent on various tasks or categories of tasks. No matter how you manage your minutes, it’s a good idea to build a schedule for yourself that you can stick to and is transparent to your boss, especially if your hours aren’t 9–5 or within the same time zone. “They [should] know when they can reach you,” says Nancy Halpern, an executive coach with leadership development firm KNH Associates in New York.
The good news is, when you work from home, you avoid co-workers dropping by your desk and other office interruptions. The bad news is you'll likely have to deal with other kinds of interruptions and distractions.
How to deal with interruptions at home
- Set up a kind of signal that lets others know when you're in focus mode. Maybe it's a do not disturb sign on your door or when you put on your headphones. (Or maybe you have to actually lock the door and pretend you're not home.)
- Explain why it's important for you to avoid interruptions—that they break your concentration and make your work ten times harder.
- For young kids, getting childcare is a must, unless you plan on working only when they're asleep.
- Train your kids and significant other to be self-sufficient and occupy themselves. It's frustrating to be interrupted because you're the only person who knows where the scotch tape is.
- Keep consistent work hours. Simply don't answer calls during work and perhaps even invent meetings if you have to.
- Escape. If all else fails, try working out of a co-working space, the library, or a coffee shop.