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The challenges of remote work (and how to overcome them)

Are you thinking about applying for a remote job? People working in various industries are becoming increasingly nomadic and aware of the benefits of choosing a place to live where they can best maintain their independence, interests, and values.

But working remotely is not all fun and games. A report from the United Nations International Labour Organization found that workers are more productive when they work away from the traditional office, but they’re also more prone to some difficulties because of the challenges of working remotely.

In Workable’s New Work of Work Survey, many of these were highlighted from a manager’s point of view. In the survey, 73% of respondents said the biggest challenge to managing a remote-first team is individual employee engagement and motivation. Team-building and morale is next, followed by team collaboration and logistics.

Do you want to work remotely, or are you already working remotely? You’ll be happier and more productive if you overcome these remote work challenges and establish healthy work habits from the start.

Remote work may mean that you’re always working

One reason many managers dislike remote work is the fear that employees will work freely without personal control. However, the reality is that in most cases, remote work actually causes employees to become overworked.

Remote workers say they often have trouble remembering to take breaks or stop work at the right time. Sometimes they are drawn back to their laptop after hours to read a single email or do a small task, only to find themselves working through the night.

One way to avoid this is to take time at the end of the day. This will help you get out of your home office. Examples include: making an appointment at the gym, grocery shopping, or walking around the block. Other examples are: Running errands, reading the next chapter of a book you’re currently into, etc. 

You can set up reminders on your device to take breaks or turn off notifications on your phone and computer, so you don’t get drawn back into work after hours.

You need to manage your time well

Remote workers need to be self-motivated and manage their time well because they don’t have others constantly looking over their shoulders or managing their time. One of the remote working problems is keeping a schedule and completing all the tasks on a list. It’s especially difficult for remote workers who have more flexible schedules and whose managers work in different time zones.

Do you know how you would pass the time if you didn’t have a boss in the chair next to you? We all think we know how we spend our time, but you quickly realize how wrong we are when your life is captured in real-time. Time tracking helps you understand how long different tasks take, essential for planning your week.

But it also shows you where you are being inefficient or where you’re being distracted. You can work on these issues to continually improve and maintain healthy patterns. Time tracking is not much of an inconvenience, either. Automated tracking apps like Time Doctor do all the data collection for you so that you can share your progress from one day to the next with minimal effort.

Make time for big thinking, research, and strategy

Blocking out time is a highly effective method for ensuring you stay true to your tasks without getting bogged down in small activities. This method exposes you to healthy pressure and limits low-value administrative tasks like answering emails that can quickly dominate your day. It’s essential to block out time so you can have periods of productivity and feel fulfilled at the end of the day.

Make your office environment flexible

Changing up where you work can help you create a physical separation between your workspace and your free time – one of the main challenges of working remotely. You may find it difficult not to check email or Slack messages at home, and without a clear boundary, you could find yourself working longer hours than you would in the office. 

For example, spending an afternoon working in a new place, such as a coffee shop, library, or co-working space, can help you create that boundary. This can also give you the connection you miss when you are not with colleagues, so it’s a solution to combat isolation or loneliness.

You’ll need to make your work shine

Another challenge of working remotely is that many managers believe that employees are not responsible for the success of a project. As a result, you may be assigned the least important projects or even denied promotions, even when you do good work.

The most important thing you can do in this situation is show your presence and contribution. Try to visit the office regularly and even work from there a few times a month. Attend conferences and office parties to show everyone that you are an active team member. 

Working remotely can make it challenging to maintain regular communication with superiors, but you should do what you can to stay on top of these things. It’s always better to communicate with management when possible, so don’t hesitate to let them know what you’re working on.

How to deal with interruptions at home

It can be difficult to balance work and life with a remote working arrangement. This is especially true when dealing with interruptions from family, pets, delivery services, and neighbors. 

Sometimes these interruptions are acceptable and should be dealt with immediately (for example, if your dog needs to go outside). But mostly they can be put off until later. Be clear about which types of interruptions are okay and which can wait.

You can make remote work work for you

There’s a lot of talk about remote work and how it will expand in the coming years. For example, 74% of companies surveyed said they would add more remote work positions post COVID-19.

Remote work has many potential benefits, but there are not many you can enjoy if you don’t have the level of productivity and discipline to create a good work-life balance. It’s not worth working remotely if your job takes over your personal life or vice versa.

If you’re still interested in a remote working position after knowing the challenges you might face, be prepared to answer “Why do you want to work remotely” in your interview that assesses if you are suitable for remote work

Hiring managers want to hear that the main reason you want the job is the job itself. One way to broach this subject is to address the fact that you are more focused and productive when working remotely because you won’t be as easily distracted by colleagues and co-workers. 

Yes, you think it’s an excellent opportunity to work remotely, but the most important thing that piques your interest is the actual tasks of the job.

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