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February 14, 2019

The 3 biggest challenges faced by remote workers (and how to beat them)

by Caragh Medlicott posted in Lifestyle.

Ayoa | The 3 biggest challenges faced by remote workers (and how to beat them)
On the face of it, remote working is ideal. Working out of the office gives you the power to take control of your working day; after all, it is known as flexible working for a reason.

The most prominent perks of remote working are obvious; no commute time, working to your own schedule and the ability to make anywhere your own personal office.

Though it sometimes feels like technology has always been a part of our lives, it’s worth remembering that the internet and our many devices are a relatively new additions to our working world. Remote working is a response to the connectivity offered by the internet, but there are still inevitable challenges that come along with it.

Whether you’re already a remote worker or are thinking of becoming one, here are 3 of the biggest challenges faced by remote workers – and everything you need to know to make sure you can overcome them.

finding work-life balance can be tricky as a remote worker

Finding your work-life balance

On the surface, working from home lends itself perfectly to achieving a good work-life balance; with a customizable schedule and no hours wasted on commute time, it should be easier to find time for your life outside of work.

Sadly, this is not always the case.

Home based work has no clear start or finish time. For those with a work base, leaving the office is a clear marker that the working day has ended. Hence, letting go of work and focussing on your own personal time is far easier.

For remote workers, however, working on your own time schedule means that the line between work time and play time can begin to blur. This is worsened by the fact that flexible workers often feel the need to prove to their superiors that they’re still working hard, even if they’re not physically present.

The solution:

Good remote work is founded on routine. This doesn’t mean the variables of work can’t change – but simply that remote workers should plan ahead when it comes to allocating time for work (and conversely, for stopping work).

Jobs are built around ongoing projects, but don’t let the feeling that there’s still more to be done stop you from switching off and finishing for the day. If you find sticking to a work end time difficult, why not try scheduling something for right after you finish work? It could be an exercise class, or a coffee with a friend, but putting something in the diary will force you to switch off at the right time.

It’s also worth designating specific areas for work, especially if you are working from your own home. We tend to build associations with the places we spend a lot of time. Tempting though it may be, working from bed isn’t a great idea – it will make getting in the zone harder, and might even make switching off and getting to sleep at night more difficult.

maintaining team communication can be hard for home workers

Maintaining communication

Communication is essential to all flexible workers. From colleagues to clients, staying in the loop is often an around-the-clock challenge for remote workers. Speaking of clocks, with the power of the internet, remote teams can be spread all across the globe – and this makes timely communication even more difficult.

Access to instant communication is probably the biggest benefit of having a local office-based team. But don’t despair; there are plenty of ways for remote workers to make sure that their communication is solid – even outside of an office environment.

The solution:

The first absolute no-no of remote communication is email. Email is a long, drawn-out and frankly outdated means of work communication. You don’t want to spend the first hours of your day bogged down in an overflowing inbox. In our digital world, there’s no need to fall back on email. There are countless instant messenger options available online, and better still, task management solutions which are far easier and amazingly efficient.

Using a visual task management tool, such as DropTask [Ayoa], allows your team to keep track of all ongoing work in one place. With projects at a glance and a visual breakdown of task progress, there is no need for micromanagement or relentless “progress update” emails. Work in real time, and use Discussions to talk about tasks with your team in-context.

some flexible workers struggle with feeling lonely

Battling remote loneliness

A loss of communication isn’t the only symptom of being away from your team – another, often less talked about issue, is loneliness. After the novelty of getting to spend the working day in your pajamas wears off, many remote workers find the lack of face-to-face interaction can be stifling.

With no permanent base and days spent away from your team, forming meaningful relationships with colleagues can be harder than in a conventional work setup. Forming reclusive habits – such as always working from the house, or getting up late – can make getting yourself out of the lonely rut an even bigger challenge.

Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to try and ease the feeling of loneliness and establish the best systems to make your wellbeing a top priority whilst working remotely.

The solution:

For managers overseeing remote teams, a few things can be done to support your home workers. Keeping an open atmosphere where people feel comfortable and able to speak out if they are dealing with burnout is key. Arranging video conference calls can break up the day for remote teams and help boost comradery between colleagues.

For individuals looking to combat loneliness, making an effort to spend days working out of the house is a good idea. Whether it’s a coffee shop or co-working space, getting out where you can interact with people will help soothe the feeling of being cut-off.

With increasing numbers of remote workers all around the world, finding forums where other remote workers are going through the same thing as you is easier than ever – and you could even arrange a meet up in your local area. Whatever solution sounds best for you, the most important thing to remember is to break out of repetitive routines and look for new opportunities to connect with others.

Work wherever, whenever, and with whoever you want – all made simple through the power of DropTask [Ayoa]! Sign up for free today and make remote work, your best work.

Caragh Medlicott

Caragh Medlicott is a freelance writer and interim Editor of Wales Arts Review. After graduating with a First-Class Honours degree in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University she began a full-time writing career in Wales. She is the author of several published short stories and was shortlisted for the Lunate 500 award in December 2020, and a finalist in Narrative’s 30 Below competition in 2021. She is a regular contributor to BBC Wales' The Review Show.

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