Need to overcome the challenges of telecommuting? Remote work is, in many ways, a blessing to workers and managers alike. Remote workers get a healthier work-life balance and managers get to deal with happier, more productive employees.
However, remote work isn’t without its fair share of challenges. The schematics of the corporate workplace have been hammered out and perfected over centuries; there isn’t much that happens in the office that hasn’t been streamlined over time. Remote work introduces a whole new host of variables and stimuli into your workday.
Adjusting to remote work is a trial-and-error process, but with these tips on overcoming the challenges of telecommuting, hopefully your remote work life will feature a bit less error.
1. Feeling Isolated
If you work from home often—and especially if you’re a full-time remote worker—you know that telecommuting can make you feel isolated. With no proverbial watercooler chitchat around to keep you feeling social, working remotely can get lonely.
It’s important to make up for the void left by the lack of an office social scene. Go out of your way to ask your colleagues about their weekend or share a funny article. It takes more of an effort, but you can still have a great relationship with remote coworkers; it just takes a bit more leg work at the outset to get those relationships off the ground.
2. The Lure of the Fridge
Even the least distracted among us can be tempted by the promise of snacks. To avoid constantly thinking about snacking, schedule snack breaks into your workday, guaranteeing your rumbling tummy won’t be a continuous distraction.
3. Distracting Little Ones
Whether it’s a toddler or a puppy running around underfoot, every now and then, the little ones you love so much can also be one of the biggest distractions to your workday. A disruption in regular child care (which we HIGHLY recommend) or pet care is going to happen every now and then. But during those temporary times when it’s unavoidable, it is possible to work around their schedules to allow for productivity.
For example, schedule your most mentally intensive work for during your child’s nap time, and for non-napping kids, have a variety of activities lined up to help them have fun while you work. And you can synchronize your breaks with their schedule as well; when you’re feeling frazzled or frustrated, take a few minutes to walk the dog or play with your child. When you get back to work, you’ll feel refreshed from the break.
4. Lack of Focus
Though remote work has been proven to increase productivity in employees, it’s only natural to lose your focus and motivation every now and then. To get your concentration back on track, try using a productivity method like the Pomodoro Technique or the Getting Things Done system, which both offer ways to streamline your productivity and make the most out of your workday.
5. Technical Problems
Not having an IT department on call can become a huge hassle when you run into problems with your computer. When the Wi-Fi goes down in your home office, it can throw a serious wrench into your productivity. And we’ve all known the sheer desperation associated with trying to fix a finicky printer.
Sometimes, though, technical complications will arise that are beyond your control. That’s why it’s important to have a local technical support team on your proverbial speed dial to reach out to when things get technologically ugly.
6. Different Time Zones
On remote teams with employees spread across many time zones, it can be hard to stay connected with colleagues and find times to meet that are convenient for everyone. Be mindful of the time zones of your coworkers and try to respect the time difference.
If inconveniently timed meetings are unavoidable, be sure to rotate so it isn’t always the same person having to be on a conference call at 1:00 a.m. local time.
7. Working Too Hard and Too Often
When you work from home, you don’t have the physical separation between home and work anymore. It can be easy for answering one last email to morph into working a 10+ hour workday. To make up for the lack of delineation between your work and home life, set clear boundaries for yourself. Put a hard stop on your workday (and stick to it) so you don’t end up exhausted and overworked.
While telecommuting isn’t without its challenges, with the proper mindset, teleworking can be a remarkable asset to both employee and company. By learning how to overcome the potential obstacles of remote work, telecommuters clear the way for a balanced, healthy work life where both productivity and happiness are maximized in one fell swoop.