Working from home became the new normal for a lot of us over the course of the last 18 months. And while it, of course, has had its perks – no commute/working from your sofa/only getting half-dressed (top half for your Zoom meetings) – it has also come with its own unique set of challenges.
- 1 The Challenges of Working From Home
- 2 Challenges for remote teams and solutions:
- 2.1 1. Managing projects
- 2.2 2. Company Culture
- 2.3 3. Scheduling difficulties
- 2.4 4. Remote collaboration
- 2.5 5. Tracking tasks and productivity
- 2.6 6. Dealing with language and cultural differences
- 2.7 7. Building/maintaining trust
- 2.8 8. Lack of Face-to-face Supervision
- 2.9 9. Managing Employee Mental Health
- 2.10 10. Flexibility
- 2.11 11. Lack of Clear Expectations
- 3 Challenges for remote workers and solutions:
- 4 Challenges Of Remote Working During Covid-19
- 5 Benefits Of Working From Home
- 6 Summary
The Challenges of Working From Home
Working remotely can be great… It can also be tough, especially if you’re not used to it.
Here are 27 common remote work challenges you might face in the coming year – and how to overcome them!
Challenges for remote teams and solutions:
1. Managing projects
Project and task management can be difficult when everyone is in different time zones or working at different hours.
One way to manage this is to use a project management tool like Asana, Trello, or Jira, which can help you keep track of deadlines and assigned tasks. You can also set up video calls or chats to touch base with your team regularly and make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Company Culture
With everyone in different locations and/or time zones, this can be difficult to maintain – however, that doesn’t mean it’s not important to try!
Encourage remote team bonding with regular video calls or chats, company-wide events (like virtual happy hours), or even just by checking in with each other regularly.
There are lots of different tools out there (like Slack) that you can use to create different channels for different topics, so everyone can participate in the particular conversations they’re interested in. Joining/encouraging other members of your team to join online communities or networking groups related to your industry can also be incredibly beneficial to the cohesiveness of your team.
3. Scheduling difficulties
Having lots of staff in lots of time zones or just working on different schedules can be a bit of a nightmare.
To manage this, you can use a tool like Calendly or Google Calendar to schedule meetings and make sure everyone is available. You can also send out reminders for upcoming deadlines or events.
4. Remote collaboration
Collaborating remotely can be difficult when you are not able to meet in person, whether that’s face-to-face or down to conflicting schedules/time zones.
One way to overcome this challenge is to make use of online collaboration tools, like video chat platforms, file-sharing sites, or project management tools. These can help you stay in touch with your team and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
5. Tracking tasks and productivity
Keeping track of productivity and assigned tasks can be hard when your team is not in the same physical space – however, there are tools out there that can help.
There are a few ways to handle this; you can use productivity tracking tools such as RescueTime or Toggl to monitor your own productivity, and you can also ask your team members for feedback on their progress.
6. Dealing with language and cultural differences
Along with time zones, language barriers and cultural differences can have an impact on your working environment – especially when working from home.
One way to overcome this challenge is to use translation services or have someone on your team who is bilingual. You can also encourage your team to learn more about each other’s cultures, whether that’s through books, articles, or even just conversation – asking for help/clarification is never a bad thing and shows an interest being taken in the lives of the people employed within the company.
7. Building/maintaining trust
Having entire workforces being made to stay at home has felt like a bit of a minefield for a lot of employers – that assumption that as soon as an employee is out of the office, they somehow lose their minds and forget that they still have their job to do because their boss is no longer (physically) breathing down their necks.
This is why building and maintaining trust with your employees has been so important over the past two years because there was NO other alternative… Most employers have been pleasantly surprised that their businesses were, in fact, not ruined by letting staff work from home and that they have, more than likely, benefitted from putting trust in the individual rather than the collective.
Adjusting current systems with regular check-ins or progress reports will help to keep your team bonded – asking for feedback from team members is also a great way of maintaining that connection.
8. Lack of Face-to-face Supervision
While it can be difficult to feel connected when you’re not in the same space as your team, there are a few things you can do to overcome this – it can be a particular challenge for remote employees who are managing other remote employees.
It can be difficult to manage people who are not in the same space as you, but there are a few things you can do to overcome this.
Use video-conferencing or chat tools to connect with your team regularly – supervision is not just ensuring that work gets done in a timely fashion; it is also making yourself available to help out, ie. answer questions, deal with queries, give support, etc.
9. Managing Employee Mental Health
Mental health should always be a priority in any workplace, but it can be easy to forget about when employees are out of sight.
While it’s important to maintain a good work/life balance, there are a few things you can do to help your team with their mental health, such as regular check-ins, providing resources and support, or even just being understanding when things get tough.
If you have team members who are struggling, there are a few things you can do to help – offer resources and support, have regular check-ins, and be understanding.
Flexibility can be a double-edged sword – while it can be great to have the flexibility to work from anywhere, it can also be difficult to stay focused/motivated when you’re no longer in a traditional office setting.
All the systems that we live and die by in the office vs. the virtual freefall of working from home can lead to a few wobbles for even the most determined of us.
One way to overcome this is to create a dedicated workspace at home and set regular hours for yourself. You can also use productivity tracking tools to help you stay on track, and you can ask your team for accountability.
11. Lack of Clear Expectations
It can be difficult to know what is expected of you when you’re not in the same space as your team, but there are a few things that can be done to overcome this.
Video conferencing and chat tools are great ways to connect with your team on a daily basis – it is important to be clear about what is expected of your team + ensuring that if any clarification is needed, you are available for that too.
A lack of communication is one of the top complaints amongst team members because it is a surefire way of leading to misunderstanding and frustration.
Challenges for remote workers and solutions:
12. Working too much
If you find yourself working more hours than you’re used to (and most likely, being paid for), it can be helpful to set some boundaries.
You can try setting regular hours for yourself and sticking to them. Try to take regular breaks; leave the office (if not your home) for 10 minutes.
Make sure you take some time for yourself outside of work – set a hard “clock-off” time and stick to it. It is far too easy to let your work time spill into your personal time and before you know it, it’ll feel like all you ever do is WORK…
13. Interruptions from family and/or roommates
If you find yourself being interrupted by family or roommates, this is another place it can be helpful to set some boundaries.
If you are able to, create a dedicated workspace for yourself + set regular hours.
Making sure your family knows when you’re working vs. when you’re not will really help not only you but also your family members/roommates: No one appreciates getting unexpectedly yelled at for interrupting an important phone call!
14. Loneliness and lack of human interaction
Loss of human interaction can have a huge impact on our mental health, leading to real feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Working from home, especially if you live on your own, can be a very lonely experience.
There are a few things that can help with this:
- Take regular breaks to move your body and get some fresh air, even if it’s just for 5 minutes
- Make sure to schedule time for social activities outside of work, whether that’s coffee with a friend or going for a walk with your partner
- Join a co-working space, even if it’s just for a few days a week.
15. Technology hiccups
If you find yourself struggling with work-related technology, you are not alone…
Working from home usually in the first instance you have to act as your own IT support and sometimes that can be a bit of a steep learning curve.
Here are a few tips for overcoming tech hiccups:
- Have a dedicated workspace for yourself, and make sure all of your cords are organized and out of the way
- Make sure you have a backup plan for when (not if) your internet goes down – try using your phone as a hotspot or head to a local coffee shop
- Invest in a good pair of headphones, so you can tune out distractions + background noise
16. Bad health habits
If you find yourself struggling to maintain healthy habits whilst working from home, it can be helpful to set some structure for yourself.
You can try setting regular hours for when you will take breaks, and make sure to stick to them.
It can also be helpful to have healthy snacks on hand and to make sure you’re getting enough water throughout the day.
And finally, try to get some exercise in, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the block.
17. Maximising productivity
If you find yourself struggling to be productive, there are a few things you can try:
- Set regular hours for yourself, and make sure to take breaks
- Get into a good routine; try to make your day-to-day routine as work-like as possible – do all the things you would normally do to get ready for work.
- Invest in a good pair of headphones, so you can block out distractions
18. Staying motivated
If you find yourself struggling to stay motivated, it can be helpful to put markers in place and to ensure that these are hit every day.
There are also lots of helpful tools out there to keep you on track.
Some things that can help:
- Invest in a good planner, and make sure to schedule in time for yourself
- Set daily/weekly/monthly goals, and make sure to celebrate when you hit them
- Find a buddy system – someone who is also working from home and who you can check in with regularly
19. Unplugging after work
If you find yourself struggling with work-life balance, it’s important to make sure that you are able to disconnect at the end of your working day.
It can be helpful to set some boundaries and/or regular hours for when you will stop working for the day so that you don’t burn out.
It can also be helpful to have a dedicated workspace so that when you leave that space at the end of the day, you are able to fully disconnect.
And finally, make sure to schedule some leisure time for yourself, so that you can relax and recharge.
Challenges Of Remote Working During Covid-19
Covid-19 knocked the entire globe for six; a completely unprecedented situation where we’ve all had to change the way we live and work almost overnight.
For a lot of people, that’s meant working from home for the first time ever. And while there are some definite advantages to remote working, it’s not all plain sailing.
Adding to the stress of navigating working from home were the health implications and reasons for not being able to go to the office in the first place. For a lot of people, it’s been a really tough time both professionally and personally.
But as we start to emerge from the other side of the pandemic, there are some lessons we can learn from this unique period in history; about how to manage our mental health while working from home, and how to make the most of the benefits of remote working while overcoming the challenges.
Loneliness and isolation
If you find yourself struggling with loneliness or isolation, it can be helpful to set some boundaries. You can try to use video conferencing or chat tools to connect with your team regularly, and you can also set up regular check-ins or progress reports. You can also ask your team members for feedback on their work.
Mental health and burnout
If you find yourself struggling with mental health or burnout, it can be helpful to set some boundaries. You can try to use video conferencing or chat tools to connect with your team regularly, and you can also set up regular check-ins or progress reports. You can also ask your team members for feedback on their work.
If you find yourself struggling to manage childcare, it can be helpful to set some boundaries. You can try to use video conferencing or chat tools to connect with your team regularly, and you can also set up regular check-ins or progress reports. You can also ask your team members for feedback on their work.
Benefits Of Working From Home
While there are some challenges to working from home, there are also some definite benefits:
One of the main advantages of working from home is the increased flexibility it offers. With no need to commute, you can start and finish work at times that suit you better. This can make a big difference to your work-life balance, and can also increase your productivity.
The increased flexibility that comes with working from home can also lead to increased productivity. With no need to travel to and from work, and fewer distractions from colleagues, you may find you have more time to focus on your work.
Lower stress levels
Working from home can also be less stressful than working in an office. With no need to commute, and the ability to create a more relaxed working environment, you may find your stress levels are lower.
Working from home can also save you time. With no need to travel to and from work, you can use that time to do other things, such as spending more time with your family or working on your hobbies.
While there are some challenges to working from home, there are also many benefits. These benefits can include increased flexibility, productivity, and lower stress levels. Working from home can also save time by eliminating the need to commute.
Although remote work comes with its own set of unique challenges, it’s also a great way to get more done in less time. And as technology advances, these challenges will become easier and easier to overcome.
Although there are many challenges to working remotely, the benefits still outweigh them. The number of people working remotely is only going to increase in the next few years, so businesses need to start preparing for it now.
Are you ready for the remote work revolution?