Statistics show that 98 percent of remote workers say they’d prefer to keep working remotely, at least partly, even after the COVID-19 pandemic dust settles. While disrupting the world economy, the deadly virus ushered in a new trend in the work cultures of many organizations.
And guess what? Turns out working from home has numerous benefits for employers and employees alike. Think about it. Business owners no longer need to provide office infrastructure for their staff, meaning no rent to pay. Employees said goodbye to wasting precious hours on daily commutes and strict dress codes and welcomed the flexibility of working when they want. The trend has been growing since.
But that’s just scratching the surface. Working from home has countless drawbacks that can negatively impact work productivity. Below, we explore the seven most common challenges of working from home and how to overcome them.
Distractions at Work
Unfortunately, working from home brings with it not only flexibility but also distractions. Just imagine trying to create an engaging design or write an informative article amidst all the chaos of your kids, pets, and neighbors.
That’s not all. Being surrounded by chores and remembering how last night’s episode of Money Heist left you hanging makes it even harder to focus. Also, if your family members happen to be visiting, they won’t hesitate to interrupt you, complicating things even further.
How to Overcome the Distraction Disaster
- Create a separate home office (where possible). It doesn’t have to be something fancy. You can set up your remote office in any room with sufficient space. You can then use simple things like prop screens, curtains, or sliding barn doors to separate it from the rest of the room. Make sure nothing in your work area is distracting you.
- Invest in good-quality noise-canceling headphones to mute all the noise around you. Kids can make all the noise they want, and your neighbor can decide to mow the lawn at any time. Equipped with noise-canceling headphones, you’ll be able to focus on your work no matter what is happening around you.
- Make sure your family understands that you need to stay focused during your working hours.
Trouble Managing Your Schedule and Time
With all the flexibility of working without direct supervision, many people are faced with time management issues. Working from home does not mean you can wake up whenever you want, especially if you plan to get things done on time.
Following a schedule when working from home is easier said than done. Without proper planning, it can be hard to keep up. In the end, you may end up sleeping in or procrastinating. Before you realize it, the deadline is knocking, and you haven’t done anything.
How to Overcome Time Management Issues
- Start by creating a schedule that works for you and stick to it. Set regular working hours and follow a routine. A proper work structure will keep you focused and productive.
- Use a time tracking app. Knowing how long you spend on tasks enables you to improve your time management skills. A time tracker like Traqq alerts you about every hour worked so that you can take breaks and use the time to stretch your legs. In addition, time tracking software records your work habits and provides insightful data that can help you analyze your performance and activity levels. If you notice your productivity levels dipping, you can revisit your work schedule and find ways to improve.
Ever noticed how you have developed certain bad habits, like eating at random hours, since you started working from home? It’s no surprise you gained a few kilos. You may have even forgotten to exercise or simply got lazy.
How to Overcome Bad Habits
Don’t panic, though. You can take control of things by making simple lifestyle changes, like setting reminders to take a break and move around. You can also work while standing to get the blood flowing and avoid developing health issues like back and neck pain.
Most importantly, be sure to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. Set a reminder, if you must, to eat healthy salads made from fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to engage in simple workouts like jumping jacks and push-ups. Working out helps you reset both mentally and physically.
Lack of Motivation
This happens a lot to a remote workforce. The lack of constant interaction with coworkers can lead to losing motivation and morale. If such issues are not addressed, you can even lose sight of your long-term vision.
How to Overcome the Lack of Motivation
- Jot down your long-term career and financial goals. List the things you’d like to accomplish and decide where you’d want to see yourself in the next two years. Stick your notes somewhere you can see them daily so that they can serve as a constant reminder for you to stay motivated.
- Listen to personal development lessons from the hundreds of audiobooks available online or attend motivational events and conferences to stay on track.
Isolation is one of the by-products of working from home, and it can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Without coworkers, your social life can be reduced to zero, especially if you no longer go out for drinks.
How to Overcome the Loneliness Dilemma
- Employers should organize regular video calls with the entire team just to catch up.
- Find a coworking space or try working in a library or somewhere outside so long as it’s conducive to your way of working.
- Engage in community functions and events and foster relationships with like-minded individuals.
- Join a gym or yoga class, or plan weekend hikes and road trips with friends, neighbors, or family.
A Blurred Line Between Work and Life
Do you always feel the compulsion to check your emails, Skype, or get just one last task done? You’re not alone. Most remote workers complain of not being able to unplug from work. It’s like they are never off the job, and it can become extremely hard to balance between work and personal life.
So, how can you break this habit?
How to Overcome the Work-Life Balance Challenge
- Designate a workspace that you can shut down, literally or figuratively. This helps create a boundary between work and your private life.
- Pay for access to a coworking space. It acts as a “normal” office and makes it easier to unplug at the end of the day.
Communication and Collaboration Issues
Communication in the post-pandemic world is hardly what we used to know. Face-to-face interaction is even more difficult when working from home.
Now that we’ve turned to non-verbal communication, using the best communication tools for remote working is essential. You need to keep teams on the same page to enable a smooth workflow.
How to Overcome Communication Challenges
Take advantage of all the technology around us. Find a communication and collaboration tool that will work for you and your team and encourage regular communication. There are countless options to choose from: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.
Project management tools make team collaboration and coordination effective. They help team leaders check on work progress, assign tasks, and monitor things like employee absenteeism. When assigning tasks, be as clear and concise as possible to avoid misunderstanding and ambiguity.
Undoubtedly, working from home comes with many perks, from flexible work schedules to ditching the daily commute. But it’s not all a bed of roses. It takes a lot of self-discipline, commitment, and organization to stay focused and motivated.
Setting up a clear work schedule and creating a routine will help you work efficiently and spend more time with family. Make working from home work for you, not the other way around.