Updated April 14, 2020
Working remotely has its perks. The obvious benefits like avoiding a daily commute, the luxury of business-ish casual and the perk of bringing your dog with you to work certainly make it sound appealing. But as with everything, there are also drawbacks.
Coronavirus has disrupted what once resembled remote employment. And, as more and more time passes while we are safely kept apart from colleagues and loved ones, the silver linings may begin to dull. If you are finding your current working environment challenging, know that even the most disciplined remote workers struggle. Remember that we’re all in this together. Here are a few tips to get you through it.
The 4 challenges of working remotely and how to overcome them:
CHALLENGE #1: BOUNDARIES
When you physically leave an office at the end of a workday, it’s much easier to “turn off.” Whether you’re headed home or to happy hour, exiting those doors triggers a switch to focus on other things. But when working remotely, the boundaries of business hours can blur. You may find yourself checking email more frequently after dinner or prioritizing tasks that can simply wait until tomorrow. It’s important to set (and stick) to a schedule that allows your brain the downtime it needs. I have two words for you: log off.
CHALLENGE #2: DISTRACTIONS
When you first start working remotely, time is abundant. You’ve cut out your commute. You’re no longer chatting as you make your morning coffee. You get right to work. However, you’ll quickly find that there are plenty of distracting things at home that begin to fill in those gaps. Errands, chores and even pets can be a cause of disruption. A perk of the flexible schedule is to be able to tend to these type of things, but don’t let it negatively impact your productivity.
Unfortunately, now that co-working spaces and corner coffee shops are closed, you don’t have the option for a change of scenery. Still, you can adjust your work schedule to accommodate better habits. If you have kids at home with you, try to match up your work schedule to their daily learning and activity schedule. In other words, when they lunch, you lunch. When they have recess, you get a break! Try out different productivity techniques to see what works best. Always maintain an up-to-date calendar so your boss or coworkers know where you are. Don’t disappear!
CHALLENGE #3: LONELINESS
It only took a week of working remotely for me to realize how much I value in-person conversation throughout the day. Conference calls and emails just don’t replace face-to-face interaction or company. But it’s better than no contact at all! Schedule team lunch chats and check in with people at the beginning and end of your day. Some contact is better than none. Hold each other accountable to those lunch meetings. Even if you’re not chatting it up with the person sitting next to you, having emotional support and positive interactions with your teammates can provide inspiration and fuel your focus.
CHALLENGE #4: COMMUNITY
When you stop going to the office everyday, it’s inevitable to feel out of the loop. And I’m not talking about water cooler gossip. You miss out on the little things like birthday celebrations, team building events and happy hours. Even the day-to-day dynamics of your own team can start to feel distance. In order to maintain a sense of community, you have to put in extra effort when working remotely. Challenge yourself to set monthly or weekly catch-up calls or video chats to stay connected. Take the time to actually read and comment on those company update emails you used to delete. And most importantly, continue to network.