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How to deal with the downsides of working remotely
While working remotely is increasing in popularity, this new style of working comes with its own challenges. In this article, we look at the three most common problems people face while working remotely in jobs and importantly, advice on how to deal with each one.
Regularly connect with your colleagues
When you’re not in the office, it’s easy to miss things like impromptu meetings, team lunches, brainstorms and even water cooler chats, which all lead to relationship development and experiencing workplace culture.
Working remotely makes it harder to feel connected to the company or your role, and makes communication more challenging. On top of this, if you’re not communicating face-to-face, it’s harder to interpret a colleague’s tone of voice or body language. And if you’re working at home all day, the general nature of remote work can quickly turn into feelings of isolation.
Combat this isolation by making regular, meaningful communication with co-workers a priority. Take advantage of the vast array of video chat options, whether through Facetime, WhatsApp, Google’s Duo, Zoom or Slack.
In addition, schedule in-person office visits several times a year, so you can continue to have face-to-face conversations with your team.
Set clear work-life boundaries
When you start working from home, the strict lines you used to have between your work life and your personal life become muddled and less difficult to define. After all, when your laptop is in the other room, it’s easy to quickly send an email or finish off a project. This makes it difficult to switch off and disconnect from work — an essential element of creating a healthy work-life balance.
To combat this, it’s important to create those boundaries for yourself. Every day, establish a routine and act like you’re going to work. Even if you’re working in your home, get dressed like you’re going to work, and create some semblance of routine to get you into the habit of starting your day.
Another way to create clear boundaries is to have a separate place for work. It could be a café, co-working space or library, but it can also just be a specific room or spot in your house. Pick a designated workspace. When you’re there, concentrate on work — and make a point of disconnecting when you’re not.
Invest in the right technology
Technology is part of what enables remote work in the first place, and it’s a cornerstone of most modern professions. Chat apps, online meeting rooms, and shared drives, folders and documents make it easy to get work done from anywhere.
However, technology can fail — and in fact, at some point it’s going to. Any workspace or office can experience technical issues but when they happen in the office, everyone’s in the same boat. However, when you’re working remotely, it’s all on you and therefore your issue to deal with, alone.
There’s no telling when you might experience technical problems. But it is possible to minimise the risk.
If you’re working from home, invest in a solid and reliable internet connection so you’re not slowed down by lag, buffering, slow connections or long load times. The same goes for working at cafes or coworking spaces. Do your research before you choose where to work and test the internet connection before committing.
At the same time, always have a back-up plan in place. If the wi-fi in your house grinds to a halt, have a list of two or three cafes you can head to, in order to get your work done. And make sure you regularly backup your files on your company intranet and your own hard drive. This way, if anything crashes, you’ve saved your work.