7 remote work challenges and why remote working is hard
This is a guest post by Rebecca Safier. Know more about her at the end of the post.
When I snagged my first remote job five years ago, I was so excited to start working from home.
Plus, I got the freedom and flexibility to design my schedule and work from anywhere with WiFi.
I no longer had to feel trapped in a 9 to 5 office job, and I could say goodbye to my traffic-filled commute…
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But while I loved the perks that came with my remote role, I soon discovered that working from home has its own challenges.
If you’re thinking of taking the leap to remote work, it’s important to be aware of the obstacles you could encounter.
Here are seven common difficulties of working from home, along with tips on how to conquer them like a pro.
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— Work From Home Struggles —
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1. Avoiding distractions in your environment
Let’s face it, procrastination is a universal experience.
We’ve all let something distract us when we’re supposed to be working on a project or meeting a deadline.
Staying focused on tasks is challenging everywhere, but it becomes especially tough when you work from home and don’t have colleagues or a boss nearby to keep you accountable.
It’s all too easy to get distracted by a kitchen that needs cleaning or a Netflix show you’re dying to binge-watch.
If “working from home” turns into watching TV or doing your laundry, you might be better off relocating to a cafe, library, or coworking space.
And if you find yourself spending hours on social media, try a website-blocking app or extension like Focus or Freedom.
Figure out what your biggest sources of distraction are so you remove them from your environment.
Once you do, you’ll have a much easier time staying focused on the tasks at hand.
2. Organizing your time efficiently
Unless your remote job requires certain hours, you’ll get to design a schedule that works for you.
While this can be incredibly freeing, it’s also really tough at first. You might find yourself struggling to stick to routines or to check items off your to-do list.
That’s why it’s important to find your own style of time management as a remote worker. Think about the times of day when you’re most productive, and plan your schedule around your natural rhythms.
If you’re productive early in the morning, for instance, set an alarm and get started on your trickiest tasks early in the day.
Or if you’re more of a night owl, let yourself take time off during the day and designate your evenings for work.
You might also try different time management strategies, such as the Pomodoro Method.
With this approach, you set a timer for 25-minute work sessions followed by five-minute breaks. Once you’ve gone through four work sessions, give yourself a longer break of 30 minutes.
While everyone’s approach will be different, it’s up to you to find the time management techniques that work for you.
As Tim Ferriss taught us in “The 4-Hour Workweek,” you don’t need to work from 9 to 5 to be effective.
Instead, create routines for yourself that help you get more work done in less time.
3. Communicating with your team or clients
When you’re remote, it’s hard to stay as visible to your team or clients as you would be in a traditional office setting.
If your coworkers are in-office, you might find yourself missing out on important meetings or even getting passed over for promotions.
To avoid this situation, communicate as much as possible to make your presence known and to connect with your colleagues.
Whether you use a chat app like Slack, video conferencing tech like Zoom, or simply exchange messages over Gmail, make it a point to speak with your colleagues early and often.
Don’t be afraid to promote yourself, either — if you just had a big win or finished a major project, let others know about it.
As long as you’re proactive about communicating, you won’t get forgotten by your team or miss out on opportunities to collaborate.
4. Setting boundaries with friends and family
Another challenge of working from home has to do with boundaries.
When you’re remote, your friends and family might think you’re available anytime to go out to lunch, catch up on long phone calls, or babysit their kids.
But you’ve got work to do and deadlines to meet, and playing hooky all the time will leave you stressed out and behind schedule.
To prevent these kinds of requests, make sure to inform your friends and family about your work hours.
You might also set your phone to “do not disturb” mode to avoid distracting calls during work hours.
By kindly but firmly setting boundaries, the people in your life will understand when you’re working, even if you are spending the day at home or a local coffee shop.
– – – How to deal with working remotely – – –
5. Maintaining your health and wellness
The majority of remote jobs are online and computer-based.
If you’re not careful, you could end up sitting all day and letting your health suffer. They say sitting is the new smoking, so you need to make time to move around and exercise.
Throughout the day, take breaks to go to the gym, take a walk in your neighborhood, or enjoy a yoga class.
If you forget to get up from your computer for hours at a time, set reminders in your phone or buy a Fitbit or other step-tracking device to remind you to move.
Try planning out your meals at the beginning of each week so you don’t end up eating unhealthy take-out all the time.
And set up your home office in a way that protects your posture and prevents “computer neck.”
Simple fixes like raising your monitor to eye level, using a standing desk, or getting an ergonomic mouse can go a long way toward helping your posture.
You might also get a pair of blue-light blocking glasses to safeguard your eyes against too much screen time.
By taking these proactive steps, you can boost your health and wellness as a remote worker.
6. Unplugging from work at the end of the day
When you work remotely, you might find ways to maximize your efficiency and get a lot done in a short period of time.
But if you’re not careful, the opposite effect can happen and you could end up working longer and longer hours.
To prevent burn-out, it’s so important to set a finish time for work, and stick to it.
Once 5 pm or whatever time you set rolls around, make sure to log out of your work email, close down work apps, and unplug.
Otherwise, your work life could bleed into your personal life, leaving you overworked and stressed out.
7. Feeling isolated or lonely
Finally, working from home can leave you feeling isolated and lonely if you don’t make an effort to socialize with people.
If you stay in your house all day every day, you could feel alienated or even depressed. Then, that remote work arrangement you were so excited about turns into a burden instead of a blessing.
To combat this sense of isolation, be proactive about socializing in your day to day.
Maybe you chat with coworkers online or set up “coffee break” phone calls to get to know them better on a personal level.
Or perhaps you join a coworking space and meet like-minded remote professionals at events and cocktail hours.
Even getting out of the house and working at a cafe can help you feel less alone. If you’re starting to feel isolated, consider what steps you can take to join a community and connect with people in your day to day.
Find the routines and habits that work for you
Working remotely is hard… it comes with so much flexibility that you might not know what to do with it at first.
After all, most of us spent years following other people’s schedules in school and offices.
It takes some trial and error to find the right time management strategies and productivity hacks.
But this effort is so worth it, because when you do find the right habits, you’ll get to enjoy so much freedom in your career and life.
Remember that everyone experiences challenges when working from home, and it takes time to hone your remote work skills.
Just keep experimenting and practicing, and you’ll be able to conquer the challenges of working from home in no time.
Rebecca Safier is the founder of Remote Bliss, a job board and resource for remote professionals and the companies that hire them. Having worked remotely for the past five years from countries all over the world, she’s passionate about helping people build location-independent careers they love.
Notes by Chhavi:
A lot of these remote work challenges are perceived as disadvantages of remote working but if you’re disciplined, you can easily turn them into advantages.
Remember, there are just as many challenges working away from home or in an office.
So, tell me, what do you think is the biggest hurdle in working remotely? How would you overcome it?
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Resources that can help you with land work from home jobs
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