The year 2020 is the year of the pandemic. Since the novel, COVID-19 has forced us to quarantine ourselves, wear masks, sanitize our hands, and stay distant from one another to protect ourselves from the virus around us. That means more staying in and less going out as our new course of action to stay healthy. However, this will result in the collapse of our economy; therefore, the companies must keep the work going. This outbreak has become the world’s largest work-from-home experiment. This situation has led agencies to consider the possibility and challenges of working remotely to protect their employees without halting the work and hurting the economy.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, the trend of remote work has risen to 173 percent since 2005. Moreover, TalentLMS 2019 stated that two-thirds of US companies allow employees to work from home. However, many US organizations seem to be struggling with this new technological trend that has gripped them during these testing times. They have been facing numerous challenges while implementing the work-from-home policy and managing remote teams.
From distractions and interruptions to technical glitches and low bandwidth communication, remotely working has been a pretty tough ride for all. No matter whatever US agency you are a part of, you may see yourself overcoming the challenges of working from home as you explore and experience them.
We have compiled a list of the top nine challenges of working remotely that you may face and how to overcome them.
With the introduction of remote working, many anticipated that employees might slack off without any physical surveillance, assuming that it would be less work and more relaxation. However, in reality, the case is the opposite. When your personal life and work are under the same roof, balancing both is often challenging. The concept of breaks vanishes when you work from home, washroom breaks, cigarette breaks, or lunch break does not exist. People tend to forget their free time and lend excessive work hours during remote working, which often leads to burnout. The whole idea of remote working ends up with the employee checking his laptop, emails, or slack frequently and working endlessly. The more you are available, the more you are asked to perform.
However, you can try to fix this problem by reminding yourself about your exit time at the workplace and being transparent with your team regarding your time off. You may post a message to inform others as you complete your daily tasks. Also, it is always a good idea to turn off the notifications on your phone and laptop so you can enter your personal life without looking back at work.
Among the various challenges of working remotely, one of the biggest is to avoid technology malfunction affects your work. A stable and fast internet connection, a working laptop, and a smartphone are prerequisites for anyone who wishes to work from home. The technological bugs can disrupt your work and make your communication and connection with other co-workers a disaster.
Remote working entails Zoom meetings, Slack communications, exchange of emails, and other gears. Employees need to be available all the time; to discuss the course of actions, feedback, and assignment of tasks.
However, suppose the internet acts up or your laptop crashes. In that case, you may get disconnected and disengaged, which will eventually lead to you being dysfunctional. Therefore, you should always have a stable internet connection, a functioning phone with you, and a backup plan for unforeseen circumstances. Having a mobile hotspot device and a spare tablet in case of an emergency is a good idea to resolve this problem.
We all may agree to the fact that a remote working environment involves various kinds of interludes. These may include the delivery guy requiring your signature, the milkman needing to get paid, or some uninvited guests at home. Moreover, if you have children at home, you may get a cry, a tantrum, or a meltdown that may want you to stop your work right away and rush to see what the problem is. These frequent distractions can deviate your focus, disorienting you for a certain amount of time.
For this issue, you should try to create a working separate working space for yourself where no one can disturb you. Nevertheless, you can always train your spouse and children accordingly or manage a helper for the house to cater to their needs during your working hours. You may also try to keep yourself consistent with your working hours by not leaving your workspace unless there is an emergency.
The lack of motivation that stems from the absence of a manager or an office environment leads you to procrastinate. The free-form days, flexible time, and the absence of a boss leads employees to indulge in other unimportant tasks. The temptation to watch an episode, playing with your dog, or only talking to a friend on-call can make it difficult for many to stick to their to-do list.
For this purpose, we recommend you to install specific distraction-limiting tools like Serene, Cold Turkey, and others so you can stay focused and productive. You can build these productivity systems by choosing a list of websites and apps that shift your focus from work and block them. This way, a remote employee can become efficient as you concentrate better on your tasks and accomplish your scheduled duties without any deviation.
Face-to-face communication is more comfortable to comprehend than online messages or emails. Communication is the key to any workplace, keeping the team up and running. It helps convey the messages between co-workers, managers, and subordinates. It also leads to client coordination; therefore, it is the heart of any job. Remote work limits communication to the virtual world. You may miss out on certain things at the office if you are the only one working remotely.
Hence, if you are working from home, you should avoid ambiguity. And be more vocal about the happenings to give your co-workers a clear idea of your work. It will help to clarify any misunderstandings, make you more connected, engaged, and functional. Communication is one of the biggest among all the other challenges of working remotely.
Bad Health Habits
When you work from home, you tend to have a messed up routine since many of the remote workers prefer to stay in bed most of the time while they are working. It is not a healthy practice as it can lead to various harmful consequences on your body and mind. People who do remote work have abnormal sleeping patterns; moreover, they often stick to one place and do not move so frequently. It can lead to putting on weights and making your body, muscles, and bones weak. In the long-run, people who work from home may end up making their immune systems vulnerable, leading to numerous ailments. Subsequently, as your health deteriorates, your efficiency decreases as well. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain a wholesome diet, do exercise, and make a sound 8-hour sleep so you can recharge yourself daily.
The challenges of working remotely even affect your emotions as they create a feeling of loneliness in the employees as they operate separately, isolated from the office at home. The 2019 State of the Digital Workspace’ report states that almost 70% of remote employees feel left out of the workplace. Also, loneliness is considered the second most common problem (19%), according to the 2019 State of Remote Work report.
Low Bandwidth Communication
Face-to-face connections involve high bandwidth communication that results in more work achievements; however, online connections are the opposite. High bandwidth communications involve a significant amount of information exchange due to non-verbal communication and other cues. Simultaneously, low bandwidth communications entail a low amount of data transfer, leading to less efficiency. Since the amount of information transferred is less. According to a study conducted by Forbes Insights, video meetings have substituted for business communication to compensate for the considerable loss of knowledge caused due to the low bandwidth communication. Moreover, recorded video messages also play a significant role in substituting emails and text messages.
There are always some employees who take remotely working for granted. Subsequently, they do not follow the rules and yield worse results due to their laziness, abnormal routines, and poor performance. Since there is no check and balance, people tend to drag their tasks near to deadline and work in a hurry later only to deliver poor outcomes. You can alter your schedule and to fix your sleeping patterns. Moreover, there needs to be a proper investigation and evaluation of the untimely submission of work.
In a nutshell, work from home seems to be the trend of our future leaders considering the current situation, but it has its share of problems. The challenges of remotely working are abundant. It is laziness, routine, or distraction, while for others, it may be technological glitches, overtime, and poor communication. Like every problem has a solution, these problems also have a way to be fixed. We can try to understand the issues and solve each of them one by one. Therefore, we must try to resolve them and improve our lifestyles according to remote working. It seems to be the working style that will be followed by all in the years to come.