Since the advent of the internet, remote work has become more common every year. As of 2019, studies show that more than 70% of global employees work remotely at least once a week.
While getting paid to stay home and work in your pajamas might seem like a dream come true, there are plenty of challenges when it comes to working remotely that no one ever talks about.
Let’s talk a bit about these challenges and how you can overcome them.
1. Motivation and Productivity
One of the biggest challenges when working remotely is getting started for the day. Most remote workers don’t have set schedules — as long as you get a certain number of hours before midnight, and get all your tasks done, no one cares when you start.
You have to be a self-starter though. There’s no boss standing over your shoulder saying “Get to work!” If you can’t find that motivation, your productivity will suffer.
The best way to find that motivation is to create your own schedule. It can be flexible — you don’t necessarily have to get up at the crack of dawn to get your work done — but you should have a solid schedule that you follow every single day.
Maybe that means you wake up at 8, have breakfast, work out, and start your day by 10 am. Maybe it means you get up at 5 am so you’ve got the afternoon to yourself. Figure out what works for you.
2. Time Management
Time management is critical for remote workers, especially if you don’t have a set schedule or hours that you have to keep. Without comprehensive time management skills, you might find yourself scrambling to get everything done before the end of the workday.
If time management is a problem for you, start each morning by writing a to-do list with all of your tasks for the day. Assign a time-to-complete to each item. It can be flexible but outlining your day can help you manage your time and tasks better. Remember to take breaks whenever you need to.
Studies have shown that giving your brain a break during the workday — other than your lunch break — can help you be more productive. You don’t have work non-stop from the beginning of your day to the end of it.
It’ll end up making you less productive in the long run and make it harder to manage your time.
Distractions are probably the biggest challenge that you’ll face as a remote worker. You’re at home — you’ve got your television and your game consoles and your computer and your phone handy.
All those things that help keep you entertained when you’re not working can become distractions that make it harder for you to get your job done. People, too, can become distractions if they don’t respect your workspace or your office hours.
Start by removing the obvious distractions. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Shut off the TV
- Install website blockers on your computer to keep you from surfing social media
- Close the door and put a sign on it that says “do not disturb”
- Stick a no soliciting sign on the door to chase off salesmen and religious peddlers before they knock on the door and interrupt your flow
You need to make the conscious choice to remove distractions from your space or remove yourself from the distractions. For me, if my house gets too noisy or people won’t respect my workspace, I unplug my laptop and head outside. The wifi still reaches, and I can get my work done in relative peace.
4. Maintaining a Work/Life Balance
How do you separate work and life when you get paid to sit in your living room or home office? If you don’t take the time to create a sharp divide between your work and your home life, you will experience more stress and are at higher risk for burnout. How can you create that separation that keeps your work and home life apart?
There are a lot of different things you could do. If you have space, create a home office that you only enter when you’re on the clock. When you’re not working, you close the door and keep all work responsibilities in that space.
If you don’t have an extra room, consider using a different device to complete your work. For me, I have a desktop computer that I use for entertainment — gaming, Netflix, etc. — and a laptop that I use for work.
When the workday is over, I close the laptop which creates that divide. If you’ve only got one computer, which is the case for a lot of remote workers, create a separate user account with all your work programs, so you don’t have any distractions while you’re working, but you can put all of your professional tools away at the end of the day.
This might take a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for you. If the first thing you try doesn’t help, don’t give up. Creating that work/life balance is more important than nearly anything.
Make the Best of Your Remote Opportunities
Not everyone gets the opportunity to work from home so if you have the option to work remotely, remember these tips to help you get the most out of the experience.