Remote working has its benefits, but it certainly has its challenges too. The thought of working from the comfort of your home, dressed in your comfiest clothes with coffee on tap sounds like living the dream. Many people find that the reality isn't quite the same. If you are asked to work remotely for a period of time, you will need to change up your usual office-based working style. Figuring out how to overcome remote working obstacles can be the difference between making a success of home working, or not.
Although you may be based in varying locations, you and your team still need to communicate effectively. There are many ways you can do this. Figuring out which one suits your team's communication needs early on will make a big difference in your collective output. There are various online communication tools available. If your team uses one in the office already, see if it can be used in the same way remotely. Book in a daily or weekly meeting with your team so you can all catch up and stay on track. Encourage people to reach out to each other virtually, so they don't feel like they're dealing with problems alone. Regular video conferencing adds a personal touch almost as good as a face-to-face meeting.
Working remotely can mean times when you face challenges with computers, laptops, printers, etc. It's also really common to struggle to get to grips with new software and communication tools if you're not used to them. Whereas you would usually call upon your technical support team in the office, you're suddenly left to figure it out on your own. The most important thing as a remote worker is that you have a fast and reliable internet connection. Other issues that arise can often be solved with some basic research. Many websites have step-by-step instructions or video guides teaching how to fix technical issues.
A good old-fashioned written to-do list can be the easiest way to stay on track during your working day. When you are trying to establish a new routine as a remote worker, focusing on your work and completing the jobs you need to can be a challenge. As part of your morning routine, compile a list of all the work you need to do that day. Some people recommend putting the most difficult or least enjoyable task at the top of the list and completing that first, before moving on. The sense of accomplishment and relief after tackling the hardest job first makes all the other tasks on the list feel easier by comparison.
Breaks from work are an important way to manage your energy and focus. You need to make sure you take breaks as a remote worker, just as you did when in the office. Use these opportunities to step away from your screen and do something else. Even sorting the laundry or making the beds can feel like a break from your work and will help you be productive during the day. If you decide to sit quietly with a hot drink or catch up on some TV during your break, that's fine too, as long as you return to your work when planned. Part of remote working is finding a routine that works for you.
Remote workers find that one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the distractions of being in the home. Other family members, pets, housework and chores are all potential distractions. Allocate time in your day to deal with household chores. You can put a load of clothes in the washer while you wait for the kettle to boil, or clean the kitchen while you have your lunch. Family members need to know that when you are working, you are unavailable. Try to create a separate working space in your home. Ask your family not to disturb you if the door is closed.
In contrast to a busy office environment, remote working can be isolating. Working alone for periods of time can result in feelings of loneliness and boredom. Make sure that you stay in contact with your colleagues to keep communication open. Tell them if you're feeling isolated - they might be feeling the same. Video conferencing can feel more personal than email. Face-to-face contact with people is important too, even if that comes from running an errand every lunchtime to get out and about. As the social side of working reduces, you might need to see friends outside of work more to make up for it. Working from a coffee shop is also a great way to feel like you're around people.
As a remote worker, you are rarely more than a few steps away from your kitchen. This can mean a test of willpower to stop you from eating too much or snacking unnecessarily throughout the day. You can plan out your day's food just as you would for a day in the office. If you usually take a healthy snack to work, get the same ready for your day of working from home. If it helps, don't allow yourself into the kitchen unless it's a mealtime. At the other end of the scale, without a dedicated lunch break, don't fall into the trap of being so busy you forget to eat. Finding the balance may take time but being aware of your eating patterns and being sensible about how much you need to eat will keep you on track.
Just as monitoring your eating habits is important, you need to maintain a good exercise routine, too. If you usually head to gym class after a day in the office, you can keep to that routine as a remote worker. When you reach the end of your working day, grab your kit and head out to the gym, just as you usually would. If you've been alone all day, this can be a great way to socialize too. If the gym isn't your thing, incorporate a run or a home workout into your routine.
Remote workers find that they have to be their own cheerleader when it comes to recognizing their achievements and successes. At the end of every day, reflect on what you've achieved and what you're proud of. Tick off items on your to-do list as you go, so you can clearly see what you managed to get done. If there was a particularly difficult or arduous task you completed, recognize that and reward yourself with a little treat. It can be difficult to keep up levels of motivation without your team around you, but it's important to keep you moving forward.
When your team is spread around the world, working around time zone differences can be tricky. The best way to tackle this is with compromises from both sides. There is almost always a time overlap that falls within a reasonable time for both parties. This might mean an early morning start or a late finish for some team members, but it can work if everyone is on board.
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