The concept of remote work isn’t new. It first developed from the term “telecommuting” and was present as early as the 1970s. Yet, despite the long history, companies and remote workers today still struggle to find the ideal balance.
As a freelance writer with a worldwide stable of clients, I understand how challenging remote work can be. Making things work effectively requires effort and understanding on both engagement sides.
If you struggle with remote work, here are some pain points you can address.
1. Poor Working Environment
It’s no secret that the right environment can make or break your productivity. A bad work environment can cause stress, which leads to a decrease in performance and overall well-being. Many people don’t realize that the opposite can be true as well: an optimal work environment doesn’t just help you get more done but also helps retain valuable employees.
These days, remote working is becoming increasingly popular as companies seek ways to cut costs and improve efficiency by allowing employees to work from home or another location outside of their office building.
However, this trend has led some managers to believe that they don’t need to provide their team with a well-designed workspace because everyone will be working remotely anyway—but nothing could be further from the truth!
It’s not only crucial for remote workers’ health and happiness (which will directly affect your bottom line), but it also affects how much time they spend at their desks each day.
2. Distractions at Home
Many of us think of our homes as clean and quiet places where we can focus on work. However, this isn’t always the case. Distractions abound in most cases, ranging from family members to pets and easy Netflix access.
And while it may be easy to handle some distractions—like your niece asking if she can play with your favorite pen—others can be harder to deal with (like having your dog jump up on your laptop).
Working with distractions of this nature can be incredibly challenging. Not everyone can afford to set up an isolated space as their fully-equipped office away from the office. And we might have a slow computer in our home, but we can solve this issue with a mix of automatic and manual solutions. Just try your best to work out a suitable workplace at home and stay focused on the tasks at hand.
3. Lack of Communication Tools
Caption: Tools like Slack can fuel multiple roles, from communication to collaboration.
Your communication tools can make all the difference in how well you work with your team. Not having the right tools is like trying to play basketball with a broken leg: it will not work out for anyone involved. You may have a great idea for working together on something, but it will never see the light of day if you don’t know how to convey this effectively.
Many communication tools can help remote workers stay connected and up-to-date on projects regardless of location. Some examples include video conferencing software like Skype or Google Hangouts, content sharing platforms such as Dropbox; instant messaging services such as Slack; even social media platforms like Facebook Messenger.
If you don’t have access to these resources at your company, you might feel isolated from your colleagues (and vice versa).
4. Keeping the Right Balance of Supervision
One of the most significant downsides to remote work is a lack of direct supervision. This issue can be challenging for some companies and individuals because if your boss isn’t watching what you do all day, it’s easy to slack off or even lie about how much work you get done.
At the same time, you don’t want supervisors and managers to hover over remote staff constantly. It’s stressful and unproductive on both sides of the coin. The key to balance in this sense is simply better accountability.
Forget about the concept of wanting to see workers working. Instead, focus on the key issues – productivity and performance.
5. Insufficient Access to Information
Caption: VPNs offer better privacy and security to most forms of digital communication. (Source: AVG)
Remote workers can’t work effectively if they don’t have access to the information they need at any given moment. This issue is a matter of life and death for many people, including police officers and EMTs, who need to be able to talk with dispatchers and other responders in real time.
Quick access to information can matter as much as having access itself. If you have information available but can’t get it fast enough, you may lose out on an opportunity or make a wrong decision because there isn’t enough time to do your job correctly.
It’s also important that your ability to get information from anywhere and any device is unimpeded by technical limitations or slow connections. For example, the more devices access a network, the more likely it is that something will go wrong along the communication line between them.
Sometimes, the solution can be as simple as introducing a new tool. For example, a VPN could increase communication security while bypassing ISP speed throttling and other issues.
6. Poor Tech Skills
Skills are a significant factor in remote work, as they are in any type of job. But if you’re not working at home and don’t have someone around to help you solve problems when they arise, it can be even more challenging to learn new skills on your own.
There are many ways to improve tech skills while working remotely. Sign up for online classes. Many different sites offer training in IT-related subjects such as coding, cybersecurity, and data backup management (the list can be daunting). One excellent resource is Coursera; others include edX and Udacity.
Join online groups focused on specific technologies or topics (for example, Python programmers hang out on StackOverflow). You might also consider joining meetups in your area—sites like Meetup let people organize events based there too!
7. Lack of Self-motivation
In life, there are always individuals who just don’t seem motivated. They don’t care about their work or job, and they often blame the environment for not being able to do their best work. There’s nothing incredible about this, and it’s quite common.
But why does this happen?
People are typically motivated by three things: the work, other people involved (coworkers), and the surrounding environment. Suppose none of these three things are present? In that case, even if they want to succeed at something and put in effort towards achieving it, motivation can remain low.
Remote workers may also not be motivated or engaged enough in their work because they don’t see their colleagues around them daily. The best recourse to this would be better interaction, such as short “catch-up” video sessions with remote workers.
8. Some Tend to Overwork
Some remote workers can’t work effectively because they are not managing their time, energy, and focus. To be more productive, you must understand the importance of balance. You need to find a way to incorporate self-care into your working life to stay present and focused on your day-to-day tasks.
Here are some tips for staying balanced as a remote worker:
Set boundaries. The most important thing when working from home is setting boundaries so that you know when it’s time for work and time for rest. Your home should not convert into a 24/7 branch office.
Delegate responsibility where possible; don’t do everything yourself out of fear that someone else might mess up something important, which may cause issues later down the road. However unlikely this scenario might be since there’s always room for improvement.
Exercise. Taking the time to exercise is a great way to clear your mind of clutter. At the same time, you improve your health, making you even more prepared to get back to work when something needs doing.
A remote work environment can be an ideal place to work. But it’s not for everyone. Some people may find it challenging to stay focused and productive when they are working in isolation, while others need more supervision than they get from their remote coworkers.
While there isn’t always a perfect solution, companies and remote workers can work together to find the “sweet spot” that keeps both sides happy.
Beh loves to explore the latest SEO, digital marketing and technology news. She is also the digital marketer of WebRevenue. Reach out to her via LinkedIn and discuss her favorite topics together.