A remote video call team meeting

The challenges of working remotely

Remote and hybrid working isn’t just a temporary trend, it’s here to stay. 

It’s undeniable that remote working has become more and more popular all around the world.

According to Forbes

Two studies in early 2022 validated the views of remote/hybrid work advocates. Research from Owl Labs found that remote and hybrid employees were 22% happier than workers in an onsite office environment and stayed in their jobs longer.

Plus, remote workers had less stress, more focus, and were more productive than when they toiled in the office. Working from home led to better work/life balance and was more beneficial for the physical and mental well-being of employees.

No commute, no co-workers distracting you, and more time for your personal life. No doubt, working remotely has many benefits. 

However, let’s not be fooled. Remote working sounds like the business revolution we need, even though it’s not always easy.

As with anything, there are downsides and several challenges of remote working.

Working remotely and having to manage your own time can be challenging. Here are 10 of the biggest challenges of working remotely.

The 10 challenges of working remotely

1. Unplugging after work

There’s a common misconception that remote workers are slackers. But overworking is one of the biggest challenges of working remotely.

According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report, 22% of remote workers have experienced difficulties unplugging after work.

With no need to spend time commuting from the office to your home, it can be hard to separate work from your personal life.

You might feel guilty that your manager might think you’re not working more since you’re off-site, so you try to overcompensate to appear busy.

If you have difficulty detaching, ask for help from the people close to you. Ask your partner, family, or friend to keep you accountable and remind you it’s time to unplug.

Also, make sure you take breaks throughout the day. Set reminders to get away from your desk for a few minutes, which will help increase productivity. 

a clock on a table to manage time

2. Managing your time effectively

Working remotely means that you can work from wherever you want. Thus, you may have several distractions if your remote work is from home. Whether it’s the dishes, the laundry, cleaning the bedroom, or even taking care of your children. It can be a little too much sometimes, making it hard to focus.

There are also other time wasters at work: social media, checking websites, watching TV, etc. Yet, if you find it hard to concentrate, consider using a time-tracking app. Understanding where your time is going will help you keep on track and build a schedule for yourself. 

3. Team communication

Since you’re not physically in the office with your colleagues, you will miss impromptu lunches, coffees, or spontaneous talks.

It makes it harder to create more profound and meaningful connections with your co-workers and to feel integrated into the team.

There are a lot of tools to manage remote employees that will help you to address communication gaps. companies use platforms like Skype, Teams, or Slack, where everyone, remote and in-office, can chat about anything.

Regular video calls with your team and manager are also an excellent way to bond with everyone. Having good relationships with your colleagues is extremely important for your well-being at work.

cogwheel of a team

4. Productivity and organization

Without someone overlooking your work, you need to be a master at self-motivation and time management

It’s difficult to stick to a schedule and get all the tasks done. But this gets even harder for remote workers. Managing your to-dos can be challenging when you work from home and have such a flexible routine and distractions.

An organized schedule is critical to staying productive. Prepare a to-do list, create a time management plan and use the time blocking method to manage every second better!

Break your daily to-do list into chunks of time to work on tasks or projects and manage your time. If time blocking doesn’t work for you, apply other time management techniques.

5. Working from different locations or time zones

With remote working, many companies have the opportunity to hire people from all around the world, which is excellent for business. But it’s not always easy to manage. 

With people working in different time zones, it’s harder to have the team in sync.

Time zone differences make real-time collaboration and communication difficult or even impossible. Also, it can easily lead to overworking if you’re not careful.

When you work remotely, it’s not uncommon to be waking up as a teammate is signing off. 

This doesn’t have to be a problem! If you’re a manager and your team is in this position, make sure you create a few guidelines for everyone to follow.

Flexibility is critical in this type of situation. Make sure your team members who don’t work during the usual company hours have regular schedules and always work at the same time.

This way, everyone knows exactly when they’ll be available, making communication a lot easier. Default to asynchronous communication as it’s the best way to collaborate across time zones. If everyone knows not to expect an answer immediately, it reduces the pressure to be “on-call” 24/7. 

Also, try to create an employee handbook. It’ll give remote employees a source to work from and not need as much help. 

6. Dealing with cultural differences

Besides the time zone, working with people from around the world can have many other challenges. You’ll also have various languages and cultural backgrounds coming together on projects. 

Also, workplace expectations can be widely different between countries. For instance, you’re expected to work long hours in some countries, while others can be more relaxed. 

However, some cultural differences can be very delicate, such as differences in religious beliefs. These must be respected, including religious holidays that may require time off or participation, such as Ramadan. 

To avoid potential issues, encourage open dialogue in your team about culture, religion, politics, etc. Promote tolerance and understanding across all topics to ensure everyone feels comfortable.

7. Technical Problems

We’re sure this has happened to you more than once. Even though technical problems can occur both at the office and at home, at least you know that your IT team will be able to help you if you’re at the office.

If you’re not tech-savvy, make sure that when you request your company’s technical team to check your system frequently to avoid inevitable technical challenges.

8. Loneliness

This is one of the biggest challenges of working remotely for employees and managers.

Many people deal with loneliness in and out of the remote work context, especially after the pandemic. Regardless of what origins it is, loneliness can have a super strong influence on your health and life. 

Besides the personal impact it has on people, loneliness also significantly damages companies and businesses. If your workers feel lonely, they’ll feel less engaged, less productive, and less motivated. According to Buffer, 24% of remote employees struggle with feelings of loneliness

Working in an office is full of spontaneous moments that allow you to interact with others. Remotely is not that easy.

There are no hallway conversations or having coffee with colleagues. Remote workers need to be more proactive and often look outside work for their social interaction. 

As a manager, it’s imperative to create space for their workers to connect and create relations. Here are a few tips on how to help:

  • Have a Team Engagement Manager or someone who actively checks on people and creates surveys to see how engaged everyone is.
  • Bring your team together or create groups where people can discuss current challenges and share their successes. 
  • Make regular quick calls with your workers to talk about non-work topics like TV shows, pets, books, etc.

As a worker, if you’re company is not doing much to help you, try to find your own thing! Here are some of our suggestions:

  • If you cannot interact with your colleagues, get your interaction outside of work! Have lunch with your family and friends and hang out more with them during the day.
  • When possible, work remotely outside of your house. Many co-working spaces, coffee shops, libraries, and other places will make you feel less alone.
  • As you’re not spending time in traffic going to the office, you have much more accessible time! Make plans after work and invite family and friends for dinner.
  • Call your colleagues for quick informal chats to discuss things unrelated to work. It will make you feel great!

9. Career growth 

It’s particularly challenging to have any career advancement when you work from home as you’re less visible.

The truth is that most managers lack experience managing people who work remotely. Also, many executives still don’t love the idea of remote working, claiming that people work less at home than at the office. This is one of the reasons why some managers don’t like remote working.

Nonetheless, learning, development, and mentorship are not impossible to achieve remotely. You have to be more proactive and take control of your career.

  • Be your advocate: Learn to communicate your worth to your manager by writing monthly updates, for example, or proactively progress updates on Slack, Teams, or whatever platform you use. 
  • Share with your manager your career goals: It’ll help your manager greatly if they know where you want to go. Talk to your manager about the skills you want to develop so they can give you more appropriate projects.
  • Look for new opportunities within the company: If there’s an exciting new project that you’re interested in or you’d like to help others with their projects, be the first to put your hand up to take it on.
  • Be proactive with communication: Remote work makes informal conversations harder. Be someone who documents everything so current, and new employees can get up to speed quickly and feel much more included. 

10. Sedentary lifestyle

Working from home can lead you to a more sedentary lifestyle and slip into bad habits. Although it’s harder to stay active for motivation reasons, you can become healthier if you change your mindset.

Here are a few tips:

  • Have restricted sleeping hours. Being at home doesn’t mean it’s Saturday every day. Make sure you go to bed early, so you don’t feel tired during the day. 
  • Get outside and go for a walk; it will help you feel more relaxed and help with vitamin D. 
  • Exercise often: invest in a home gym, join a group fitness class, or check some YouTube workout videos.

Conclusion

Here is our list of the 10 biggest struggles you can have whilst working remotely.

Remote work can be very rewarding if you can handle these common issues. Perhaps you’ll have also more time for a life outside of work with friends and family.

You must make remote working work for you. Thankfully, remote working can bring a lot of benefits for your life Find what better works for you and stay organized.

Discipline is vital to achieving that perfect work-life balance.

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