As our societal perception of remote work has gradually shifted from temporary to permanent, it’s time to take stock of the challenges of remote working and find ways to ensure that the future of remote work is sustainable. While remote working has many benefits, it also comes with a unique set of challenges that can impact productivity, communication, and overall well-being.
According to the latest State of Remote Work report from Buffer, the top 6 struggles associated with working from home are:
- Staying home too much
- Feeling lonely
- Accomodating different time zones
- Staying motivated
- Difficulty disconnecting from work
- Remaining focused
In this article, we’ll explore each of these challenges and provide practical tips and strategies for overcoming them. Whether you’re a seasoned remote worker or just starting a new work-from-home schedule, we’ll equip you with the tools you need to thrive in a remote work position.
1. Trouble Focusing
When you’re working from home, it can be easy to procrastinate or get distracted and lose focus on your work. This is perhaps what concerns employers the most about remote work, so if your employer is on the fence about it, one of the best ways to convince them to keep a remote working policy is to demonstrate that you can still use your time effectively and maintain productivity at home.
Here are some ways you can improve your focus while working remotely:
- Make sure you have a distraction-free, dedicated workspace, whether it’s an office, a desk, or a comfortable chair.
- If you live with others, set boundaries around your time and space so that they know when they can approach you and when you don’t want to be interrupted.
- Try a time management strategy like task batching or using a time tracker to stay on top of your workload.
- Find ways to get in the zone, whether that means listening to a specific playlist or having your favorite snack on hand.
2. Time Zone Differences
If you’ve ever almost missed a Zoom meeting because of confusing time zones, or had difficulty connecting with team members in another country or state, you’re not alone. This is just one of the challenges of remote working with a team that’s not based in a single location.
Here’s how you can make aligning time zones easier for yourself and your team:
- Establish clear communication protocols and set expectations for response times.
- Utilize tools like time zone converters, scheduling apps, and communication platforms to stay organized and on top of meetings and deadlines.
When in doubt, double check timing with your colleagues.
3. Motivating Yourself
When you’re working from home, there’s no manager nearby to keep the pressure on, so it’s up to you to motivate yourself and avoid procrastination. If you’re not feeling motivated, it’s easy to get distracted and lose time, so how can you make it easier to stay on track?
Here are a few ideas:
- Use motivational task management strategies like time boxing that give you a clear timeline for completing your work and a sense of achievement for each task you finish on time.
- Use project management tools that help you track your progress and keep the big picture in perspective.
- Set some professional goals for yourself – what would you like to achieve this quarter, or this year? Having something tangible to work towards makes the daily effort more rewarding.
- Think about what it is you enjoy about your job, work, or industry. Focusing on the ways your values align with your work can be a great way to find motivation (and direction).
4. Disconnecting From Work
One of the biggest challenges of remote working is finding clear boundaries between your work and home life. One of the advantages of remote work is the flexibility it can offer in terms of choosing your own schedule and working hours. Some employees working from home might choose to do more work in the evenings in order to be available for their children during the day, for example.
Because work now takes place at home, it can be hard to keep it separate from your personal life, potentially leading to overwork and burnout. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, consider the following ideas:
- Keep a set work schedule, limit work hours to avoid burnout, and stay consistent. Don’t perform work tasks outside of this schedule.
- Communicate with your colleagues and managers so that they know when you’re available and you don’t feel pressured to respond during off hours.
- Give yourself some space. Have a 10 or 15 minute period before and after work devoted to mentally preparing yourself to starting your work day and unplugging from work at the end of the day.
5. Isolation and Loneliness
Many employees can find remote work isolating, and begin to feel lonely without the face to face interactions that working in person brings. This can be a significant challenge of remote working, particularly for remote employees living alone.
Here are some ways to prevent isolation and loneliness when you’re working from home:
- Make an effort to reach out to coworkers you’re collaborating with or who can help answer any questions. Small interactions like this can help make you feel connected to others.
- Invite a (local) coworker to join you for an in person workday. Meet at a local cafe and enjoy some time working alongside one another.
- Participate in company events, even if they’re virtual ones. Being an active part of the team will help you build meaningful relationships and let others know you’re someone they can turn to.
- If you’re not interested in connecting with others virtually, that’s okay. Instead, curb isolation by being intentional about socializing outside of work.
6. Not Getting Out Enough
According to the 2023 State of Remote Work Report, 21% of respondents reported that staying home too much was the biggest challenge of remote working they faced. For many remote employees, work used to provide a reason to leave the house every day, but now with work from home policies, they’re finding themselves more cooped up than before.
Here are some ways to make sure you’re getting out of your home office:
- Mix it up and find somewhere new to work. Consider going to a cafe, a local library, or a coworking space.
- Take regular walks to break up the day. The easiest way to get out of the house is to take a short walk. Choose a time before or after work, or use it as an opportunity to take a break and stretch your legs.
- Make evening and weekend plans. If you’re not getting out during the day, it’s important to get out in the evenings or on weekends (or both!) – meet some friends for dinner or take your family out.
Pro-tip: TrackingTime is a versatile time-tracking and productivity tool specifically designed to overcome the challenges of remote working, making it an ideal solution for all types of teams. By offering a comprehensive time-tracker feature, it monitors crucial tasks like email creation and project management, ensuring that remote employees stay on track and maintain productivity. The detailed reports generated from employee time cards and timesheets provide a transparent overview of individual and team performance when working remotely. TrackingTime’s seamless integrations with popular tools like Trello, Asana, and Slack enable centralized task management and real-time collaboration, effectively bridging the geographical gaps between team members.
Addressing the Challenges of Remote Working
Now that you’re familiar with the top six challenges of remote working, as well as some strategies you can use to overcome them, you’re well-equipped for working-from-home success. While it can sometimes be difficult to remain productive, make meaningful connections, and set clear boundaries when working from home, the benefits of flexibility and autonomy are well worth the effort. Show your employer you’re a self-starter by tackling these challenges yourself.
About the Author
Corissa is a Career Advisor and Staff Writer at Resume Genius, where she loves equipping others with the tools they need to pursue their dreams. She has written for Diversity Jobs, Recruiter.com, Teachstone, and Jobillico, among others, and her career advice has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek and UpJourney.
How to Overcome the Challenges of Remote Working
- Trouble focusing:
Have a distraction-free workspace. Set boundaries with others. Use time management strategies. Find ways to get in the zone.
- Time zone differences:
Establish clear communication protocols. Utilize tools like time zone converters and scheduling apps. Double check timing with colleagues.
- Motivating yourself:
Use motivational task management strategies. Use project management tools. Set professional goals. Focus on aligning values with work.
- Disconnecting from work:
Keep a set work schedule. Limit work hours and avoid performing tasks outside the schedule.
Communicate availability to colleagues. Give yourself time to mentally prepare and unplug from work.
- Isolation and loneliness:
Reach out to coworkers. Invite a local coworker for an in-person workday. Participate in virtual company events. Socialize outside of work.
- Not getting out enough:
Find alternative places to work. Take regular walks. Make evening and weekend plans to leave the house.