Challenge #1 – Communication & Collaboration
At work, we rely so heavily on the personal interactions we have with our colleagues. Important communication happens organically in the office. When we’re not there, we miss out on the coffee break conversations, impromptu lunches, and brainstorming sessions. When working remotely, it’s up to you to create opportunities to connect with your teammates.
If you’re working on a project with multiple people, schedule a video call rather than going back and forth through email. If your company is using a collaboration platform like Teams or Slack, then be visible! Start the conversation, weigh in on ideas, make recommendations, and celebrate the wins, big and small, just like you would in the office. Most importantly, don’t forget about the phone – and use it to check in regularly with your supervisor. Talk to them about what you’re working on, the progress you’ve made and any challenges you encounter. This naturally helps you build a trusting relationship with your boss and establishes an open line of communication.
Challenge #2 – Loneliness
From the moment we turn on our laptops we tend to isolate ourselves. We try to avoid household distractions so we are likely cooped up somewhere away from partners, children, roommates – and most definitely coworkers. If we don’t make time during the day to interact with people it’s easy for loneliness to creep in. Whether in the office or at home, you’re mental health should be a priority but remote workers need to take special care to engage in social activities. Make a plan for each day and block out time on your calendar. Schedule time for you to call friends, join a live stream guided meditation, or get together with coworkers outside of work. Interaction, in whatever form it may take, will help you find your happy place.
Challenge #3 – Maintaining a healthy work/life balance
As a remote worker, it’s much easier for the boundaries separating work and life to become blurred. We are missing out on things that normally trigger the start and stop of the workday. Actions like driving to work and departing from the office signal your brain to turn on and off from work. When working remote you need to create your own boundaries, if not there could be some serious repercussions.
Burnout, social isolation and even depression are real concerns if you don’t unplug and set aside some “me time”. Consider a hard start and stop time. Set an alarm for 30 minutes before the end of your day. Then put your work aside and set a plan for tomorrow. Try to do a morning activity BEFORE you log in or check your email. Take a quick walk, make breakfast, have a coffee, just avoid rolling out of bed and immediately switching work on.
Challenge # 4 – Being visible & standing out
A past survey from Indeed found that 37% of remote employees believe that this work style hinders visibility. Let’s face it, one of the best ways to get promoted and advance in your career is to network within your organization. As a remote worker you will have fewer interactions with colleagues outside of your direct team so you need to capitalize on the opportunities that give you some exposure. One way of getting yourself noticed is volunteering for cross functional projects. Not only will you get to work with new people, you may acquire new skills. By volunteering you also stand out as someone willing to take on more responsibility. This further enhances your chances for the next promotion. Engage with stakeholders on LinkedIn. It’s not enough to just follow them. Commenting on and sharing their posts will draw attention to yourself – and hopefully they take notice.
Challenge # 5 – Getting and Staying Motivated
It’s Thursday morning. You didn’t get much sleep last night. You don’t have any meetings scheduled until 10am. It would be oh so easy to turn off your alarm and close your eyes. When no one is watching over us sometimes it’s easy to slip into an unproductive mindset. Unfortunately, when we procrastinate, guess what? We end up more stressed and out of sorts because we have less time to hit our deadlines and production goals. Staying motivated throughout the work week is something that trips up a lot of remote workers. By establishing a routine, you’ll see it’s not that much different than reporting to the office.
The first thing you should do is go into each day with a plan. Whatever it takes, a “to do” list, blocking out your calendar, you need to carve out your day and allocate time for breaks throughout. Find an activity that triggers your work brain to turn on. Many remote workers recommend getting dressed (gasp!). You don’t need to dress in formal attire, but you might want to consider brushing your teeth and changing out of your PJs. Another way to stay motivated is by rewarding yourself. For example, when you finish tasks 1 and 2 you will make a coffee, step outside for a breather or look at tik-tok videos for 15 minutes, whatever makes you happy. Once you make a habit out of these positive actions you will naturally start to move through the workweek and end each day feeling accomplished. It’s a much better feeling than the anxiety we experience when we fall behind.
The ideal remote work strategy is going to look for everyone. Perhaps the best advice is to simply do what works best for you. Remember nothing is static, if a process isn’t working for you change it. There’s a degree of trial and error, especially at first. As long as you keep an open mind and address your challenges you will find the schedule and style that works best.