7 Challenges of Working Remotely and How To Overcome Them
Updated January 13, 2023
Several benefits come with working remotely. These include not having a long commute to work, more flexible work hours and being able to better balance work and life. However, while there are many benefits to working remotely, there are also some possible challenges.
In this article, we look at the most common challenges to working remotely and how you can overcome them.
What is working remotely?
Working remotely is a style of working that allows you to work outside of a traditional office, whether at home, in a co-working space, at a coffee shop or other location. While businesses have offered remote working to some employees for many years, it has become increasingly popular as internet bandwidth, WiFi and other related technologies have advanced. Now it is common to see working remotely offered in job postings to attract quality candidates. Not only does it appeal to those who want a more flexible work arrangement, but it also means candidates don't have to relocate to accept a job.
Businesses can also save money on office space and supplies when employees work remotely. When remote workers come into the office, they can share temporary desk space since they don't need their own desk.
7 challenges of working remotely and how to overcome them
Working remotely requires you to take a different approach to the way you work. This can sometimes present challenges. Here are seven of those challenges and ways you can overcome them.
1. Feeling isolated
Many people who work remotely work alone. While solitude can help you concentrate undisturbed, it can also make you feel isolated from other people. In a traditional office, you are normally surrounded by other people with whom you can interact if you need to.
Even if you don't need to collaborate with others in your work, it is good for your mental health to spend time around other people. You could arrange to meet up for lunch with coworkers who live in the same town. Alternatively, you could find a co-working space where you can be around other telecommuters. Even taking your laptop to a coffee shop for a few hours might help you feel less isolated.
Related: Work From Home Jobs That Pay Well
2. Feeling disconnected
While working away from the office can help to minimize the distractions you might normally find in an office, it can also make you feel disconnected from your team. The casual conversations held at work can help give you a feeling of connection with others. It is also a good way to catch up on news and feel engaged.
Your telecommuting arrangement may require you to work in the office a certain number of days a week or month. Be sure to make the most of that time to interact with your coworkers. If that is not an option, make technology work for you through video conferencing or even text messaging. You could also talk to your manager about organizing quarterly team-building meetings at a location convenient for everyone.
3. Finding a good work-life balance
When you commute to work, it is easier to leave your work behind when you leave the office. Working remotely means that you never really leave your workspace, especially if you work from home. It is very easy to continue working long after regular work hours because you don't have to leave to go home, or you can continue your work at any time.
Having flexible hours is one of the advantages of working remotely. However, you should be disciplined about walking away from work to engage with family or to relax and enjoy other things. If possible, establish a workroom or work area you can leave at the end of the day. Schedule lunch breaks away from home or perhaps arrange to meet up with a friend. Set a time to close your work computer and not open it again until the next workday.
4. Being productive
Many remote workers have little difficulty taking advantage of flexible hours and minimal distractions to be productive. However, some find this a challenge. Without your colleagues around you, it may be difficult for you to find the motivation to work. If you work from home, it can take some time to view your home as a workplace and not just a place you relax. While working remotely can be helpful for those with family or pets to care for, these can also provide distractions from your work.
You can help boost your productivity by working in bursts of 25 to 30 minutes, then taking a break to check email or play with your pets. If you have children to look after, schedule your work hours around their naps, or plan to do most of your work when they are in bed. During intense work periods, consider asking a friend or someone else in your household to watch over your pets or children, if you have any.
5. Protecting work hours from friends and family
Working remotely with flexible hours means that you can occasionally take time to run errands or do non-work tasks during the day. Well-meaning family and friends might take this to mean that you're available more often than you are. If this happens to you, it's important to find ways to protect your work hours. Not only is it important for your productivity, but it is also important that you are available for your employer during the hours you have agreed to work.
It might help if you establish regular work hours in which you are as available as often as you would be if you worked in a regular office, even if you are at home. You could also indicate you are working and unavailable by putting on headphones or hanging a sign on your door. Make sure to also talk to your friends, family and roommates. Set rules for when and how they should engage you during your workday.
6. Fixing technology problems
One of the advantages of working in an office is that there is usually a technology team available to help you if your network connection fails or your computer crashes. Working remotely means you are responsible for dealing with those problems yourself. This can be a challenge if you are not used to managing technology problems.
How you resolve this challenge depends upon your remote working situation. The company you work for may have policies and procedures in place for handling remote technical problems. Be sure you are familiar with them. If, however, you are responsible for your own hardware, have backup equipment available in the event of a failure. Consider also using cloud-based storage for important files to make sure you don't lose them as a result of hardware crashes.
7. Managing security risks
Businesses usually have a network and software security installed in their offices to guard against cyberattacks such as hackers and viruses. Working remotely, especially in public places such as coffee shops or libraries, leaves you more vulnerable to such attacks. If you are responsible for protecting your data and that of your company or your clients, you need to be sure you have robust security on all your work devices.
If you work for a company, they may have security requirements for remote workers, such as only using company hardware with encryption or other security features installed. Be sure you are familiar with and follow these procedures. Otherwise, consider investing in anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Consider also using a virtual private network, or VPN, to connect to the Internet. When working in public, use a screen filter to help keep your laptop screen private and be careful about using public WiFi. Work offline as much as possible and only connect to the internet when you have a secure connection.
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