The Challenges of Working Remotely And How To Deal With Them
Working remotely was an idea that was being undertaken by a few new companies, and the culture gained momentum due to the pandemic. Now it is no longer just an idea but a necessity. It certainly sounds great, since now we can make time for our families and work from the comfort of our home, not to mention, you are saved from the daily hassles of the commute! However, like everything else, working remotely is not without its challenges. The following are a few of the obstacles that you might face and ideas on how you may be able to work around them.
When am I off the clock?
Apart from contributing to a headache, commute time enabled us to clearly draw a line of distinction between work and personal life. At the end of the day, traveling back home is what signaled to you that your tedious day has come to a close. Since this is now absent, it becomes quite inevitable for you to overwork. Another contributing factor is that typically "being at home" suggests that you are not working, and therefore you overcompensate as a result.
Unplugging is essential. Task your family members to remind you and ensure that you sign-off after the set deadline, much like the time you get off of work typically.
Working remotely provides for a more flexible schedule that actually might be more difficult to manage and ultimately become chaotic and messy and thereby affecting work and increasing stress.
Log your activity and the time it takes - there are a number of apps and websites you can use for this. Even the timer on your phone will work just fine. After about a week, you will get a fundamental idea as to what your work pattern looks like and where is most of your time spent. Make a schedule flexible enough to accommodate sudden, unavoidable emergencies or tasks, and ensure that you share it with your boss and colleagues so that they remain informed and know when to contact you. It would also be evidence of sorts to show the amount of work that you are putting in since you are not, so to speak, in the visual radar of your boss.
Various factors, including distractions and disruptions in the environment affect productivity. Chores at home, children, unannounced guests, a grocery run, and distracting pings from social media accounts make it easy to get side-tracked and lose focus during your work.
To tackle interruptions from home, ensure that you create a separate workspace for yourself wherein you are away from possible distractions. For instance, avoid the shared spaces where it is possible that guests may be seated or the television may be switched on. Invest in a chair and desk and personalize it the way you would an office desk. This would trigger at least a little sense of being back in the office, boosting productivity. Switch your phones into a 'Focus mode' or 'Do Not Disturb mode,' enabling only urgent calls and messages. This would silence those irresistible pings that tempt you down the social media rabbit hole.
Reliable and fast connectivity, along with high-grade office equipment is something we typically take for granted. Now that most of the population works from home, reliable connectivity is proving to be an impediment in doing said work.
Collaborate with team members and get the necessary speed and reliability checks done. Always keep a backup ready, such as a portable and handy internet dongle. During these times, a secure internet connection is an investment. Make sure that the source of connectivity is closer to your workspace. Organizations could help employees have access to similar technologies as their co-workers so that other glitches, such as version issues, can be avoided.
Email is usually the preferred means of communication in a workspace; unfortunately, they may also prove to be hotbeds for miscommunication and misunderstandings and cause communication gaps. Unlike in face-to-face conversations and phone calls wherein you can gauge emotion and tone of speech, it is difficult to understand them through email.
There are a few steps you could follow to ensure that those issues are set to a minimum. Always start your emails with pleasantries, usually as long as a sentence or two. Organize your thoughts before writing the email. It helps to note it down on so that you can cross-check and clearly convey the points. Underline or bold the text that is to be the take-away message. Re-read it from a third-person point of view to ensure that the message is conveyed aptly.
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) and Loneliness
Work isn't the same without those water-cooler gossips or hanging out with co-workers post work on Fridays. It is easy to feel lonely and left out and that you may be missing out on all the inside-jokes when you are confined home and do not have those chattering co-workers around. It may also seem that others have a better time and are more jovial than you based on how chirpy they sound in the conference call, but trust me, we are all in the same boat.
The remedy typically would be planned gatherings or outings, as many organizations with this culture had done before the pandemic. However, that s not a possibility now due to the apparent health risks. Although there is a way around that. To restart and reconnect into your office space social network, arrange for a weekend 'hang' sessions. Arrange for video calls during tea breaks, play online games, or even invite friends to the "Netflix Party"online platform to watch a movie.
These were some of the common issues that have been reported with the new up-coming culture of working remotely. I hope the solutions prove useful to you and that you have a more comfortable transition into the new culture.
In the end, always remember that you are just not working from home - you are working from home amidst a global pandemic. It is okay to stumble, to take a break, and to take your time to adjust. Stay safe and stay healthy. By - Indu Nair Graphic by - Niharika Suri #covidandwork #businessinlockdown #lockdown #positivity