The biggest remote work challenges and solutions
For some people, work from home sounds like a dream. Have you seen die-for pictures of these lucky ones who are working from a beach somewhere in the tropics? Or the photo with a girl who’s working remotely while sitting in a café in Venice?Only imagine that instead of killing your time in a sweaty commute of a metropolis, you spend an extra hour in bed, then simply put on your slippers and open your laptop. Isn’t it a perfect moment when you could genuinely enjoy your job?There are the challenges of working remotely come into a play.
Speaking out of the experience, the most concerning of working from home issues is health. Whenever you missed breakfast, lunch, dinner, or on the contrary, you’ve been eating too much, given the fridge’s proximity, all of it affects your wellbeing, mood, and strength to get through the day. Ask yourself: did I drink enough water today? Do I refill my bottle regularly?
Having all you need in a few steps away, you actually don’t need to do too many steps a day. Thus, your body’s fitness may fall below your standards.
Forgetting to have fresh air and not getting enough of Vitamin D may also be a problem.
The solution to challenge #1 is self-discipline. Create a schedule and follow it day after day. Fill up your fridge with healthy food. Add an everyday reminder to go to a gym or simply go for a walk.
The second, but no less important of remote employees concerns, is overwork. It sounds a bit silly, cause who would overwork when no one is watching over your shoulder? But it’s not that simple.
Not everyone can stop working at 6 pm. Some of us switch to playing a computer game, watching a movie, or scrolling down endless news in social networking, which means using a connection to the Internet device, which can receive the notifications. Who wouldn’t be tempted to read a message or two from your boss? And then he saw that you’ve read it, now you started to feel obliged to respond or maybe even submit a quick fix of the issue he pointed out.
One remote worker told me during the interview that he had a habit of waking up at night to refill his glass of water, and then he was unable to fight a temptation to check his phone’s notifications.
Drawing the line between your job and personal life is complicated — especially when you do both in the same house, and sometimes, in the same room. Several developers from Ameware Group confessed that it’s hard not to finish a small thing today. When they think of working an extra hour more, they often end up troubleshooting and debugging until late at night.
The consequences can be severe. The risk of burnout is among them.
How to overcome such a challenge while working remotely?
- Let your team know your schedule. When you say goodbye for today, then switch off your notifications if possible.
- Organize your work. Be flexible. Not every task is of equal size. For example, you can use the 1-3-5 rule to structure your day: plan one big thing, three medium things, and five little things per day. So by the end of the week, you’ll accomplish five big tasks, fifteen medium ones, twenty-five small ones.
- The best thing you can do to prevent overwork is to set up boundaries between your work and your resting time; if you have a study, then just shut the door and do not come back in there until your working hours.
One of the senior developers of Ameware Group told me during the interview, “When I’ve been working in an office, I couldn’t get productivity as high as I have at home. The reason was simple — the interruptions. Apart from constant background buzzing, people kept showing up at my desk, inviting for a cup of coffee or someone’s birthday. Not to mention the meetings that would never end.
When I started working remotely, I remember myself being more relaxed and getting into the flow easily. Yet, soon I realized that I could not avoid interruptions even in the quietness of my own walls. At the moment, I found interruptions are the most annoying of all challenges of working from home.”
Even if you don’t have kids, a partner, a dog, and live all by yourself, you can still get interrupted by a postman, neighbours, doorbells, relatives who popped up without notice.
There is no way you can avoid all interruptions, and some of them are ok like a fire alarm or your wife need medical attention. But there are some areas where you can minimize them.
- Agree on a signal for your family when they should not interrupt you. For example, close the study’s door or put earphones on.
- Talk to your family and calmly explain why it’s important not to disturb you during working hours.
- Do not answer the calls during working hours if they’re too annoying.
- Put your kids in childcare, if possible.
- Have a consistent working schedule.
Sometimes, remote teams are also distributed. They face the challenges of working in a group located in different countries and different continents. Here comes the next entry of our list of working from home problems — time zone difference. Over the years working with various clients worldwide, Ameware Group had outlined guidelines on how working hours should overlap within distributed teams.
Remote work and flexible hours go hand in hand nearly in every remote position definition. Unexperienced candidates often read it as a perk to start and finish their working day whenever they want, but it’s not that. Flexibility, in this case, is the adaptation of your working schedule in order to overlap with your teammates for at least four hours. These are the core hours where you do all the meetings, chatting, while the rest of your day, you work more independently.
The number of core hours may vary from company to company and depend mostly on the time zone difference itself.
Speaking of work from home problems, it’s worth to mention technical issues. While you cannot do anything if your entire block got cut off the power, the other issues can be handled.
- The loss of the Internet connection is probably the most common issue among remote workers. Specifically, if you’re working remotely while traveling, having another source of the Internet connection (such as a mobile hotspot) is a must.
- A broken laptop is also a possibility. So for peace of mind and avoiding frustration, as a quick decision, you could have a spare laptop or at least a tablet.
- Many employers are concerned about security. However, the solution to this issue has been already invented. Introduce the VPN matters into the routine of your remote teams and rest assured that your company’s security is intact.
Tech experts of Ameware Group went even further. To ensure that every minute of specialists’ time on the client’s project brings value, they reduced any possible issues within the working environment by creating ready-to-go virtual machines per developer. Even if an employee’s hard drive got crashed, the data wouldn’t be lost. This employee can access his secure VM from another device. Every VM has a daily backup schedule and VM tech assistance 24/7.
Despite the challenges of remote working, its value cannot be underestimated. Besides, when the process is well established, employers wouldn’t have to rent big expensive offices while their employees are more satisfied with their job.
As for the remote workers themselves, when they consider, “Is remote work right for me?” they have to learn self-control and self-motivation.