It’s increasingly common for companies now to break from the traditional way of doing work in a physical office and allow employees to work from home. Almost 3.4 million Americans are reported to have opted for this work arrangement according to the 2020 report of Flex Jobs. And with the constant change in technology, working from home is more feasible now than ever.
Remote work is wonderful, and ‘wonderful’ is an understatement. No officemates, you often have a flexible schedule, and the opportunity to work outside of an office for once are just some of the benefits. But like anything else, it has its pros and cons. Some of the cons are making people hesitant about the idea of working from home.
Whether you are new to this or you’ve already been working from home, you’ll be more productive when you know and face these challenges head-on.
Loneliness and feeling self-isolated
This is probably the top issue of every remote worker’s list.
Even with the unlimited access to everything interesting on the Internet, it can be a bit isolating to be in the same place for too long all by yourself. People who have become acquainted with their homes and the idea of doing work on their laptops in their pajamas have officially reached their “hermit” peak. It’s a lifestyle where people have become too settled with their current set-up that they have forgotten when was the last time they stepped outside from their homes.
However, there are serious risks that people must always take into consideration if this gets exacerbated. It can lead to depression and anxiety if not given enough attention.
Keeping an active lifestyle along with a balanced diet can be a good start to create healthy working-from-home habits. Reward yourself with a better lifestyle where you take more accountability of habits that can impact your life. Get into a ‘work outfit’ that you can prepare the night before. And set some schedules where you can go out for a jog or walk the dog to get some sunlight and a breath of fresh air.
“Virtual Timezone” differences
As soon as you wake up, you may want to ask your teammate some pressing questions related to a project you’re working on, but he’s about to go to bed. Because your teammate has a different work-from-home flex schedule than yours you may both be in the same global time zone, but still, be on different “virtual time zones”. (Oh, these horrible “virtual time zones”!) And this can go on until you simply email your questions instead of getting some real-time answers. So how do you make this work?
To be successful, you need to have some overlapping time with teammates in a day and make sure that everyone commits to it to feel like you’re collaborating and that issues and other concerns will be addressed in real-time.
It becomes a challenge when there’s an 8-hour difference or even worse, an 11-hour difference. There’s no easy way around it so compromise is the best thing to do in this situation. Schedule meetings, collaborations, and virtual co-working ahead of time so no one misses the memo.
Well, it’s true, especially if you’re the type of person who loves variety and is creative enough to find interesting activities within the premises, Those of us who work from home can become very distracted by numerous things such as your dog, kids, Netflix, or the mailman.
- You have to set some boundaries when it comes to work and define which ones are okay to be ‘distracted with’ and which ones aren’t. For example, it’s important to walk your dog or make dinner for your kids. But for those things that can wait, you can set them aside for now and do them later once you are to ‘clock-out’ from work.
- Constantly checking your phone cannot help you finish that task of yours that needs to be submitted today. Set your phone to a silent mode or put your phone in a different room.
- Schedule for family time, for walking the dog, watering the plants, and even your working hours. If you need to stop working by 5 p.m., then stop working at that time. It’ll allow you to do other activities you’ve been wanting to do.
Completing the work
It’s one thing to be distracted, but it’s a dilemma when you’ve not finished any work. Whether you are distracted or overwhelmed with tasks, it’s crucial to complete your work before the scheduled clock-out. And because there’s no superior who physically oversees your work, it’s hard to get into time management in terms of beating the deadline.
- To prioritize, you’ll have to start from top to bottom. Meaning the top ones are the most difficult and do the smaller ones that will require less energy after.
- Limit the tasks you’re supposed to do during that day. Use the Eisenhower trick called 1-3-5: 1 high-priority task, 3 medium-priority tasks, and 5 low-priority tasks.
- Move other tasks to tomorrow and some other days as you can’t really do everything on your list in one day without burning yourself out. And burnout is another issue that most remote workers are facing now.
Knowing when to clock-out
Because you’re within the confines of home, the line between your work and life becomes a blur. Most of the time, you do things that are beyond your working hours as you’ve forgotten to put a limit on it. Later on, you’ve welcomed burnout and you lost the interest to work.
- To avoid that, schedule your work hours, lunch breaks, and bio-breaks and it’s important to strictly follow them. Treat this as if you’re working in the office with strict schedules of breaks that everyone has to follow.
- Create a conducive environment that is for working. Maybe a lamp and clean desk with quiet music playing in the background and turn them off before you leave. This is to condition your mind that you’re done being in the zone.
- List the things you want to do after your work and make them interesting. Maybe you want to go out for a run or go to the gym or buy some fresh produce for your breakfast the following day. The point here is to motivate you to finish work and never log back in on your computer that day – because you’re supposed to do something fun.
The mysteries of technology
Because we have creative innovators and advanced technologies — we have collaborative tools like Slack. Slack, and solutions like it, allow teams to collaborate in one place, and that helps work become highly efficient. GroupLink everything HelpDesk, GroupLink Workflow Process & Incident Tracking, and GroupLink for SafestSchools are similar workflow enablers with excellent workflow and WFH capability. As good as these tools are, there are still some possible infrastructure hiccups that remote workers experience.
The software tool may be working splendidly, but maybe it’s the server, the laptop used, the camera that’s rolling, the signal – that causes technology to not work correctly.
- Always have a contingency plan for this. If there’s a power outage in the area, go to a co-working space that you’ve set up in case something like this happens, and make sure you’ve checked their internet connection prior to going there. It’ll be a complete waste of time if their internet has some issues that can potentially delay your work.
- Test your devices and tools. It’s a disappointment to your teammates or to your superior if you can’t join the meeting because of some problems with your tool. Test the tools you’re going to use ahead of time to avoid causing inconvenience for others.
- Have some back-up data. In case your Internet WiFi goes out, use your mobile hotspot to tether to your laptop as your temporary WiFi.
Entering into this kind of work arrangement suddenly can seem a bit daunting, scary at times, and thrilling. But with the right mindset, realistic expectations, and by being aware of the possible issues you’d encounter when it comes to working from home, you can have a better strategy and outlook, thus performing better at work.
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