The coronavirus has been affecting companies for over a year and remote work is becoming more than just a temporary solution. You may be one of the many employees who have permanently transitioned to working remotely since the start of the pandemic.
No long commutes, no managers or coworkers hanging over your shoulder, no office attire, and no having your lunch stolen from the breakroom fridge. Sure, remote work has marvelous upsides, but it also has its drawbacks.
Here are the three biggest challenges you may face while working remotely, and the best ways to overcome them.
Remote employees are very likely to overwork. When you work from home, work and personal time are divided by a very thin line. For example, are you finding yourself reaching for your laptop when you wake up or while watching tv before bed? When you worked in a traditional office, you probably waited until you got to your desk to start your workday. Now, you’ve likely traded in your morning routine and commute for answering emails and morning meetings. You might not even realize that you’re spending more time “at work” than ever before.
Avoid burnout and set a schedule. It’s important to have a routine so that you can separate your work and personal responsibilities, even if they all take place in your living room. Create a schedule for yourself and hold yourself accountable for only working during the hours you’ve designated. This includes adding in time for breaks and lunch. Communicate your work schedule with others to protect your personal time and be mindful of your coworkers’ own schedules. If you haven’t already, check out our work-life balance blog for more scheduling tips.
Another solution is creating a “clock in/clock out” ritual. Designate a work area in a separate bedroom or corner of your home where you can go and know it’s time to get to work. Having this space dedicated to work hours only can help you get into the state of mind of being at an office and make the transition into “after hours” easier.
2. Feeling isolated and missing human connection:
Although you might talk with coworkers over video calls, or have the companionship of your pets, you might still develop “cabin fever” when working fully remote. Especially if you’re accustomed to working from an office, where you were surrounded by coworkers and constant interactions with others (e.g. conversations in the lunchroom, bumping into a friend in the hallway, talking about your weekend plans before the meeting starts, etc.) This lack of human interaction can leave you feeling restless and isolated.
Make the effort to spend more time connecting with others. FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or a phone call are all more meaningful ways to communicate with coworkers beyond email. Another great alternative is to work from co-working spaces or coffee shops — think of it as your second office and a little escape from home. The effort to get dressed, go out in public, and work from a new place might be the jumpstart you need to feel refreshed and less isolated. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make new friends!
If working from another location is not an option, try to schedule time in your day to go to a coffee shop, call a friend, or spend “unplugged” time with loved ones. Try joining a team/group sport or exercise. Whether it’s track, hiking or soccer, it can be a good escape. Making these plans will help balance the isolation and give you things to look forward to outside of working hours. It’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy and fight off those feelings of “cabin fever.”
In a traditional office setting, when you meet with coworkers, exchange ideas, and participate in dialogue, it gives you momentum and fuels your productivity. In a remote work setting, you’re prone to collaborating less and you may begin to feel more distant from your team
Increase your communication with the team. Although it’s not as easy as turning to the person next to you in a meeting, technology provides plenty of opportunities to communicate quickly and easily. You should be proactive in asking questions, giving and receiving feedback, participating in meetings, and over-communicating potential areas for misunderstanding. Leadership can help foster this communication by allowing the first 5 to 10 minutes of video meetings to be solely for chat and banter. This way, there will be a more open dialogue, and people will feel more comfortable and connected to each other.
Many remote workers report feeling less important to the team than those who are working from the office every day.
If your company has some employees in the office, but you remain fully remote, it’s hard not to feel invisible to those who are working together in person. You are interacting with them less and, as a result, may feel like you’re not being included in decisions or important meetings. Based on a recent Joblist survey of remote workers, over 80% of employees reported feeling invisible to their employers while working remotely. A majority of employees also agreed that it takes extra effort to maintain visibility while remote.
Leadership: When making an announcement, try to include everyone at the same time, whether they are remote or in-person. Utilize video conferencing or other technology to keep all employees up to speed and connect several remote teams. This will avoid anyone feeling like they aren’t included in the decision-making process or that they are always the last to find out. A wise leader is aware of the unique dynamic between hybrid or completely virtual teams. Use this to your advantage and create a workflow that works for your specific unit.
There’s no magic solution to the problems of working remotely, but these are some tips to help solve some of the biggest challenges you may be facing. We’re linking our “Everyday Tips To Achieve Long-Term Remote Work-Life Balance” blog for even more tips and tricks. Check it o