How to work remotely: challenges and tips
Working remotely for all, or most, employees presents many challenges. Use this guide to overcome those challenges with tips to achieve productive results and keep you healthy and happy.
- Poor Time Management
While working remotely you save traveling time, when you work from home you have to take into account all your other duties you may need to perform, such as cleaning, making dinner, or even organizing your workspace.
Here are ways in which you may improve your time management:
- Allocate separate times for work and for home duties;
- Create to-do lists;
- Set your work desk in a quiet place in your home;
- If you share home with other workers, agree with them on working rules;
- Use time alarms or time tracking software such as TimeCamp or WorkMeter;
- Use time mapping technique;
2. Technology Issues
For working remotely, you have to embrace technology. And this applies not only to the equipment, for example, laptop, tablet, or a smartphone, but to different types of tools available for these devices – apps, software, etc.
If your company infrastructure and technology are prepared for working remotely, follow the instructions given by your company.
If you need to set up your own remote office, follow these tips:
- Make sure to check your service providers (for internet and/or mobile signal) and even run necessary tests before settling on your remote location;
- If your remote internet hookup is not reliable, buy an extra powerful router
- You should have access to the same technology that your team does (or check with the majority of your clients);
- If your team collaborates on projects or documents, make sure you can tap into a file hosting service so the team can work together on things without version issues;
Here are some tools you may want to consider:
- Appointment Scheduling: 10to8
- Noise-canceling: Krisp
- Cloud storage and file management: Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive;
- Collaborative chat: Slack, Workplace
- Videoconference: Appear.in, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Hangout, Skype, Join.me
- Notes and reminders: Evernote, OneNote, Google Keep, Apple Notes, ProofHub
- To-do lists: Todoist, iDoneThis
- Team collaboration: PukkaTeam, Basecamp
- Team feedback: Doodle, Chimp or Champ
- Screen sharing: TeamViewer
- Project management: Asana, Float, Trello, Jira, Instagantt, ProofHub
- Product management: ProdPad
- Time management: Teamwork, Hub Staff, Time Doctor
- Sales management: Pipedrive, Pipefy, MixPanel
- Design and prototyping: JustInMind, inVision, Skitch, CodePen
- Password management: Meldium
- Work-life balance: Timezone.io, Take a Break Please
- Employee recognition: WooBoard
- Emailing: Mailchimp, Sender, SendInBlue, Omnisend, SendPulse, Mailjet
3 . Team Communication
One of the most significant challenges in remote work is communication, either with a boss, manager, or other team members. It is particularly challenging because when working from home (or any other place than the company’s office), you do not have the chance to talk to people during a coffee break or when you need to discuss a task or project. Instead, you sit home alone doing your job.
Here are ways for effective communication:
- Make use of the different collaborative tools for remote teams;
- Make use of special tools for communication, e.g., HangOut, Skype, Slack, Zoom or GoToMeeting;
- Attend all project, department and team meetings that are organized online.
- Share with your manager and team about tasks’ progress, future goals and plans, and any other issues related to work;
- Don’t be afraid to talk about your problems, ask questions, talk about your expectations – this will help you stay sharp at anything you do;
In-person communication is better suited for “shower thoughts” and unplanned ideation. Some people refrain from sharing ideas in Slack where text is permanent and public to the entire team. Translating half-baked thoughts – that can lead to fully-baked brilliance – also requires more effort, reducing peoples’ level of participation.
Follow these steps to leading effective shared writing sessions:
- Have a focus. Focus your shared writing session on a particular aspect. The more focused it is, the more effective it will be.
- Keep it short. Select the appropriate wording.
- Model drafting. If possible, draw your idea or plan for display and make explicit reference to it throughout the session.
- Encourage ideas. To promote discussion, get the team to draft key words, phrases or sentences; so that they will have plenty to contribute during the shared exercise and will have a bank to use later in their own writing.
Distractions are the nightmare of every remote worker. Distractions occur in the office but it can be even more challenging at home, especially for those with kids, and also pets. One of the most common distractions is procrastination. But also when working from home, you can often find yourself in situations which you do not necessarily have to do right now. Cleaning up your apartment, washing dishes, listening to the news, watching tv. Because your work is flexible, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
That’s why it’s crucial to create your own space in which you can work peacefully, away from distractions of any type. Remember that such a place, either a room or an office, should be equipped only with the tools necessary for your work!
Apply these tips to overcome distractions:
- Turn off your mobile phone for the time of work;
- Don’t engage in social media activity;
- Set blocks of time for every task;
- Agree on working rules with your family or home mates;
Respect is a less obvious issue for remote workers, especially in companies that have a “face time” culture. It’s true that some people use “WFH” to procrastinate at home. This meme combined with a lack of transparency into one’s current focus can make motivated, honest people worry about the judgement of their remote work.
Apply these tips to respect others and to be respected:
- Attend and participate to all project, group or company meetings you are invited;
- Remain connected via the collaborative and communication tools;
- Make yourself available and accessible via phone;
- Respond emails in a timely manner;
- Share with your manager, team and teammates about tasks’ progress, future goals and plans, and any other issues related to work;
- Deliver quality results on time;
Disconnecting is hard when your home is your office. This is challenged further when teammates work 24/7 across different time zones. Even though working remotely means being flexible and working in different hours, at different days, some people tend to spend much more time on work during the day than is needed. Sleep deprivation, the feeling of exhaustion, lack of personal time are just a few of the most common negative effects.
Work overload doesn’t allow you to focus on the most important aspects of work and leads to a significant decrease in productivity. In order to prevent it, you can apply the following methods:
- Plan your work and estimate the time required;
- Prioritize your tasks;
- Organize your day, don’t allow yourself to sit in front of the computer all day;
- Take breaks and set the alarm clock for when it’s time to finish your work;
- If the overload is required by a project deadline, let your manager know, and agree on compensating it with some rest in the following days;
8. Bad Health Habits
When you work from home, you spend most of the time sitting in front of your computer. And it’s not always good. In a long-term perspective, your health may suffer to a big extent. If you don’t move, you put on weight, your muscles and bones become weak, and your immune system is not that effective in facing off any types of diseases. Plus, sometimes bad sleeping habits are also an issue. Gathering all together, when your health deteriorates, so does your work efficiency.
In order to always stay fresh and healthy:
- Keep a balanced diet;
- Sleep at least 8 hours at night;
- And remember to take breaks during your work;
Loneliness is also a common issue expressed by remote workers. It can be isolating to work an entire day or week without face-to-face interaction, especially for more extroverted personalities.