Coming into 2020, no one expected the new normal to include entire companies working remotely. At the same time, no one expected the COVID-19 virus to roll throughout the world and become a pandemic quite the way it has either.
To prevent the disease from rapidly spreading, working professionals (who can) have resorted to working remotely and mainly working from home. Working remotely isn’t always working from home to be clear. Instead it means working from anywhere outside a traditional office. Working while on business travel or vacation counts as remote working as does cracking open your laptop for emails at a coffee shop. Even responding to client communication from your phone sitting on the couch, of course, counts as remote working.
It’s the freedom and flexibility that, instead of being tethered to your workplace, you can deliver your projects and execute on your goals from anywhere you choose.
But this freedom to plug in and get to business is not without its drawbacks. Some of these challenges can negatively impact individuals, teams, and entire organizations if the transition is done too hastily and without understanding the potential obstacles.
Disadvantages of working remotely
Increased Distractions & Losing Focus
Losing focus becomes much easier once the number of distractions increases. Netflix. Family members. Laundry. It takes self-control to be productive at home and avoid the number of distractions. Try to be intentional about your time and ensure your working environment lets you focus on the tasks at hand.
Communication Issues Will Arise
As a remote worker, you will have to rely on calls, emails, video meetings, and other communication platforms to stay in contact with your team and clients. Be prepared for some internet or other connectivity issues with individuals working from different devices, in different locations, and even using various internet service providers. Communication issues create the quickest paths to reduced efficiency and performance so it makes sense to be proactive in ensuring communication channels are intact.
Total Dependence on Technology
Technical issues and device crashes are inevitable when individuals are working from at-home devices, so it’s essential to have updated hardware running supported software. You or a coworker may lack a piece of technology that’s easily accessible from the office, or someone’s laptop needs an upgrade. The entire team can suffer when even one team member lacks the appropriate tech to be efficient. Remote workers are entirely dependent on technology to keep the wheels moving, so ensure the whole team has access to the technology they need to be productive.
While working remotely, there are several health problems that, when left unchecked, can lead to more significant issues. For example, it’s common to sit in front of computer screens for hours at a time, often beyond the usual confines of 9-5. Prolonged screen time can cause headaches, while bad posture can lead to pain.
In addition and often overlooked is your mental health and that of your coworkers. Remote working can make you feel isolated, less-connected, or a lesser part of the team. Collaborating in the office allows you to bond and share experiences with coworkers. Whether we like to admit or not, interacting with our coworkers helps to keep morale high.
With these challenges in mind, having the right mindset and the proper tools will help you stay productive and connected. Here are some tips for working remotely like a pro.
Tips for being efficient while working remotely
Create a work routine
It is crucial to design a proper work routine and stick with it every day. A repeatable method helps to keep your day predictable as well as providing a solid defense against unwanted interruptions. Be sure to align your schedule with your colleagues to be online simultaneously so you can work together to solve problems when necessary.
Stay away from distractive websites and applications
It is too easy to lose focus and waste time on focus-killing websites or phone apps. To work productively, look for ways to silence the outside noise and temptations. If you are able, put your phone on airplane mode and block distractive websites from your browser. Research productivity apps, they are plentiful and worth finding out if one could work for you.
Make the most out of every conversation with your team
Conduct routine video or audio conference calls with your colleagues. Use it to discuss your plans, work, deadlines, and any issues you are having. Give everyone a chance to chime in. Effective communication is an essential aspect of remaining efficient while working remotely.
Take regular breaks and be physically active
Try not to sit in front of your screen for extended periods to avoid harmful effects on both your physical and mental health. Take regular breaks while working and be sure to indulge in some physical exercise daily to boost your concentration as well as your fitness. You can even try getting your pulse going with these at-your-desk exercises.
Try to organize work life separate and away from personal life
Keep your work area comfortable, clean and without too much clutter. Try to keep everything you need while working is within reach, while you keep the remote control, pillow or PJs out of sight. Most of all, get dressed, comb your hair, and brush your teeth, you animal.