Tuesday, April 16, 2024

How to Overcome the 8 Biggest Challenges of Remote Work

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Are you ready to dip your toes into the world of remote work? Whether you’ve already landed a remote job or have just launched a job search, it’s a great time to consider some of the many ways that life will change when you start working from home.

There are many ways that your life is likely to improve, from lower anxiety without a commute to the joy of getting to spend more time with your favorite pup. That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t challenges that come with working from home. But if you anticipate them now, you can create a plan to overcome them.

The Most Common Challenges of Working Remotely

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Everyone’s situation is unique, and you might discover that you have a remote work struggle that no one else does. Perhaps you live in an apartment and find out the hard way that your neighbor practices the saxophone daily during work hours. Or, maybe your Wi-Fi isn’t as fast as you thought.

While we can’t give you an exhaustive list of the hiccups you may encounter, we’ve rounded up the most common challenges reported by remote workers and tips on how to beat them before they derail you.

1. You Will Struggle With Distractions

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Before you work from home, it’s nearly impossible to fully grasp the number of distractions you’ll have to battle. From friends and loved ones to the refrigerator, the laundry, and myriad other things that vie for your attention, it can be challenging to stay on task. To be successful, you need to create a rock-solid time management strategy that allows you dedicated time to focus.

Set aside a specific area in your home that will be used for work only. This will help to train your brain to associate that space with work mode. Set regular hours for yourself and stick to them as much as possible. Let your friends and family know when those hours are so they don’t interrupt you. And most importantly, be lenient with yourself as you adjust and reassess what’s working or not working.

2. Your Team Is Not in the Building

Product manager
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You may not see your colleagues in person every day (or ever), making it challenging to stay connected and collaborate on projects. So, it’s essential to make an effort to build camaraderie with your team, even if you’re in different locations.

Regular check-ins, whether in person or online, can help you stay up to date on what’s going on with your colleagues. You can also utilize video calls and chat messages to stay connected and build relationships. The key is to create intentional interactions, as you’ll no longer be able to rely on casual encounters.

3. You Can End Up Working All the Time

Worried couple looking at bills in the morning at home with laptop and coffee
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When the office is just down the hall, it can be easy to let work consume your entire life. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to find yourself working around the clock without taking any time for yourself. That’s why setting clear boundaries between work and home is essential.

Make sure to take scheduled breaks each day to step away from your work and clear your head. Spend time with loved ones, walk outside, or relax. And having a dedicated office space will help you to be able to “clock out” at the end of the day and leave work at work.

4. Getting Out of the House Requires Determination

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Spending all your time indoors can be easy when you work from home. Ensure that you make the effort to get out of the house and explore your local area. Go for walks, visit coffee shops, and take advantage of remote working benefits you might have, like flexible hours.

Perhaps you can create a routine of taking a walk during a meeting that doesn’t require you to be in front of a screen or use the time you previously used to commute to do some gardening.

5. You Can Quickly Feel Isolated

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Many professionals who transition to remote work aren’t prepared for the isolation that they can experience. Without the structure of a traditional office environment, it can be easy to let social interactions fall by the wayside. You’ll no longer have a casual chat at the water cooler or a smile from a coworker as you walk down the hall.

When transitioning to remote work, it’s vital to be proactive in creating a healthy social structure that prevents isolation. This might involve scheduling regular video calls with teammates, attending virtual networking events, or setting aside time each day for informal socializing with personal acquaintances.

6. Pajama Days Can Become the Norm

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Working in your pajamas can feel like the ultimate indulgence at first. But it’s a slippery slope that can quickly lead to a loss in productivity and slowly erode your mental health. And without a set routine, including getting dressed for work, staying on task and maintaining a healthy work-life balance can promptly fall by the wayside.

Instead, create a daily routine and stick to it as much as possible — helping you stay organized and productive as you settle into work mode.

7. Your Physical Health Can Plummet

Home exercise
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Working remotely can be tough on your body if you’re not proactive. Sitting in front of a computer all day can lead to neck pain and eye strain. In addition, it’s easy to snack more often when working from home. You might discover that your step count has drifted close to a negative number now that you don’t even have to walk into an office from the employee parking lot.

That’s why it’s important to schedule exercise into your day and throughout the week when working remotely. Exercise releases endorphins, which help to improve your mood and relieve stress. In addition, it helps to increase your energy levels and improve your overall health. Even 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily can make a big difference.

8. It’s Easy to Lose Your Career Momentum

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Just because you work remotely doesn’t mean your career has to stagnate. There are many ways to continue learning and growing in your field, even from afar. Consider taking online courses, attending virtual conferences, or reading industry-related news articles.

By keeping up with the latest trends and developments in your field, you can ensure that you’re always a valuable asset to your company. And when the time comes for promotions or raises, you’ll be at the top of the list. So, don’t be out of sight, out of mind—make a deliberate effort to stay engaged in your career, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Create a Productive and Healthy Remote Work Routine

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Once you’ve acknowledged the areas where you might struggle, it’s excellent to strategize how you’ll beat them. Maybe that means creating a dedicated space you didn’t have before or investing in a time management app before you start your new job. Whatever it is, with some focus, you’ll be able to thrive in your new remote role.

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