Manage yourself while working remotely
Over the last decade many full-time employees have made the decision to work from home for at least 1 day a week.
Employees, especially millennials, value this as a way to maintain a work-life balance.
As good as ‘’working from home’’ sounds at first glance, there is a whole other reality that is completely on the contrary of the ‘’everyone should work from home’’ perception.
The 5 major challenges encountered by people working from home will be mentioned, followed with tips to help overcome it.
Problems with remote working
Disconnecting from work is harder when your home is the office. Clocking out might be forgotten. While people might think working from home means doing less, the opposite might be true for diligent employees.
Helpful “team players” are often compelled to reply 24/7, to help support their teammates at all times of the day or agree to late-night video calls. This is occasionally unavoidable with remote working, but such inconsistent workday hours are not sustainable for some people.
Loneliness might be the most common issue expressed by remote workers. Working from home can be empowering: No commute. No spontaneous colleagues with pressing requests, nor any open office distractions.
However, this also means no Friday after-work drinks, nor Donald with his spontaneous funny jokes. It can be isolating to work an entire day or week without real face-to-face interaction, especially for those with more extroverted personalities.
Distractions occur in the office but also at home. It can be even more challenging, especially for those with kids or pets (the fluffy cats or goofy dogs!). Not forgetting thin walls, overly social neighbours or overly sensitive stomach for snacks.
Communicating remotely remains a challenge. Video chat tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom have improved tremendously, but they continue to suffer from connectivity issues, background noise, and “the loudest voice in the room” dynamics. Whereas it works well for training sessions which are well scripted & designed, they are not entirely well-designed for brainstorms or more open conversations between more than four people.
Presumptions and accusations
Presumptions are more likely to be made about the remotely working person. Co-workers might presume or make accusations of slacking. It’s true that some people also use “WFH” to procrastinate at home.
However, this can turn motivated, honest people into worrying states that can influence their focus or productivity. Having a constant worry about the judgement of their remote work when they can’t get to a call or email right away.
However, as there are problems, there are also opportunities and benefits.
Benefits of the remote life
Besides being required to work remotely – working from home has proved for employers to increase productivity, lower its turnover and costs. It is also a good way to retain and attract potential talents.
For employees, the ‘’home office’’ eliminates commuting times, costs, complications, as well as fatigue that follows it. They are in charge of their own time and how they spend it, which makes it an attractive option at first glance.
In theory, it is also stated that WFH increases productivity. Employees can be more focused as they won’t have to deal with pressing colleagues that walk up to them anymore.
Tips for working from home
Don’t underestimate face or ''talk'' time
Join a call-group with a 24/7 open mic with an ‘’only-talk-when-needed’’ policy, to discuss sudden epiphanies or random ideas with your team.
Pick up the phone or send a personalized chat message to congratulate someone after a job well done or the completion of a project.
Keep it strictly professional
Try to set up a workspace and make it off-limits to the rest of your household (pets) while you’re working. There’s nothing worse than being on an important work call only to be disturbed by a ringing doorbell, barking dog, or screaming kids in the background. This will also prevent the loss of focus.
Get in the habit of sending a prompt reply whenever you get an email, even just to say, “Got it,” or, “I’ll get back to you by noon”.
Set specific touchpoints
It’s smart to set a daily or weekly time for regular check-ins with your manager and/or your colleagues. This will help to stay accountable and as a good tool to keep the ‘’team spirit’’.