I have been working from home since the middle of March.
We have a separate bedroom designated as office space and music space. During the day I occupy the room, as SMB doesn’t yet work.
It was very difficult to adjust in the beginning.
Especially with a 4-year-old boy, with his school off.
It was difficult for my wife and son too, they are not used to my working from home.
They can’t talk loudly, they can’t play music or turn on the TV.
But, after 2 weeks, all three of us adjusted to the new normal.
I discovered that remote working can be amazing sometimes – no soul-destroying commute, no co-workers looking over your shoulder, no one pinching your sandwich from the office fridge, what more could you ask for?
But, working from home does have its challenges.
As I found out in the last 2 weeks of working from home.
Anyone who works from home will tell you that it’s not all unicorns and rainbows.
A recent report found that employees who worked outside of a normal office environment were more productive than people who work in an office.
But, they also spent longer on their work, had an increased work pace and pressure, endured interference from other sources, and in some cases were more stressed.
Especially due to Corona virus-related economic impact and possible mass job cuts. The work suddenly feels like more challenging!
Below is a list of some of the biggest challenges faced by remote workers and how you can overcome them:
1. Working too Much
Most businesses don’t like the idea of their employees working from home because they think they’ll slack off if they don’t have the physical, in-person oversight.
That’s why they come up with special regulations for work at home people.
They call it “Work at home policy”.
Many companies decouple decision making to immediate managers.
In the same company, you find one team very lenient on WFH (Work From Home) whereas another group has strict rules around it.
However, in most cases, the opposite tends to happen.
Remote workers often work overtime and find it hard to switch off.
There are dozens of ideas to help you overcome the challenges of remote working.
Some of the ideas to stop yourself from working too much include:
- Be organized – set up a timetable and try and stick to it.
- Be strict – set a time when you’re going to stop working to achieve a good work-life balance.
- Create boundaries –if you can, create a dedicated office space that you can shut the door on when you’re not working. This will help you relax when you’re not at work.
- This boundary will also prevent outside distractions when you’re at work, in a meeting or solving complex problems.
2. Prioritize Your Work
Remote workers need to be good at time management because they don’t have others managing their time or environment for them.
Sticking to a schedule can be hard, but it’s an important part of working from home.
You also need to try and avoid distractions.
There area number of things you can do to help ensure you get your work finished on time:
- Prioritize your work – complete the most important work first
- Limit the number of tasks you need to complete–avoid any unnecessary tasks by using the Eisenhower matrix or plan to complete five small things, three medium things or one large thing a day.
- Don’t manage your time, manage your energy –your energy levels will go up and down during the day. Tackle large tasks when you have the energy to complete them well.
3. Reduce Interruptions
Interruptions can happen both inside and outside of an office environment.
In an office, you might have employees who want to chat, whilst at home, you might have a pet that wants some attention or the doorbell might ring.
If you have young children at home, it can be extremely tough to get work done.
There are a number of things you can do to try and reduce the number of interruptions you experience.
- Let others know when you’re busy –you could place a sign on the door or you could wear some headphones.
- Explain why you don’t want to be interrupted –tell your family that it’ll take you longer if you have to keep stopping what you’re doing.
- Childcare for young children is key – if you have young children in your house and you are their main carer then your focus will be on them. If you can, try and organize childcare for the hours you work.
- Keep your work hours consistent –don’t answer the doorbell or calls during work hours. Remind friends and relatives that you are working.
- Escape – if you’re still struggling to concentrate, then escape to quiet somewhere, such as a library.
4. Communication Issues
Many people find it hard to stay in the loop when they’re working from home.
If you’re a remote worker then you need to have good communication skills to find out what’s happening in the business.
There are a number of different ways you can stay in touch with your colleagues, including email, video call, and the telephone.
Companies use some kind of instant messaging tools as well. In our case, we use Skype and Slack.
BTW, slack is a free toll, organizations of any size can start using Slack for better coordination between their employees.
These days when my entire team is working from home, we go into multiple Webex video call sessions.
We work in an Agile scrum-based environment. If you’re familiar with the agile development model, you’d know the importance of co-location.
We solve problems and brainstorm ideas during those short 15 minutes bursts, we call Jamming. I encourage my team to Jam as frequently as possible.
Although technology has improved a great deal it can go wrong at any time.
It’s a good idea to think about how you’ll cope if the technology you use suddenly stops working.
For example, how would you cope if your laptop no longer turns on?
We had big chaos this week, in my team.
One of my co-workers was a bit heavier while using disinfectant wipes on his laptop.
His Mac stopped working!
To make the matter worse, he returned from India a week back and couldn’t go to my work tech concierge due to mandatory 14 days quarantine rule put in place.
We somehow managed to get him a replacement laptop, after a lot of effort.
You need to take proper care of your computer, phone, headphones, etc.
For peace of mind, it’s a good idea to have a back-up plan in place in case the worst happens, e.g. having a spare laptop, just in case.
Working from home can be amazing!
Who doesn’t want to be their boss and be in charge of what hours they work?
However, there are many challenges work-from-home employees face. Follow some of our top tips to overcome some of these issues.