Top 6 Challenges of Remote Working and How to Deal With Them

Remote work is on the rise. With new technologies and a growing emphasis on productivity, companies find that it makes sense for their employees to work from home or abroad. But remote working can be challenging - here's what you need to know about the challenges of remote working and not being in an office daily.

What is Remote Working?

Remote working is the practice of working from home or another location that's not your traditional office. It's becoming more popular, and with good reason—it can be great for your health, productivity, and happiness.

You don't need to go into an office in a remote-working environment. You can work from anywhere with an internet connection—you don't have to commute in traffic or pay for expensive rent on top of your other expenses.

Benefits of Remote Working

It's an exciting way to work, allowing employees to travel the world and spend more time with their families. It also saves companies money on office space and other benefits.

Here are some benefits of working remotely:

  • Work-life balance: It allows you to make up your schedule, which means spending more time with your family and friends or enjoying a hobby in your free time. 
  • Flexibility: People who work from home can often set their hours. Or you can spend a few hours at the office and work from home in the evening. Some companies even offer flex time options where employees can choose when to start their day.
  • Reduced Commute: Commuting is one of the biggest time wasters in many people’s lives. If you have kids or even just a long commute, working from home can save you a lot of time by eliminating your commute.
  • Increased Productivity: According to Fast Company Magazine, “A study from Stanford University found that people who worked at home experienced an increase in productivity by 13% over those who worked in an office”. So not only does working from home save you time, but it also helps you get more done. 

Challenges of Remote Working, And How to Overcome Them

Remote workers face different issues than office-based employees, many of which come from the physical separation between people. 

Let's look at some common remote working challenges and how to deal with them.

1. Communication

Communication is the most crucial aspect of remote working. Remote workers need to communicate effectively with each other to be successful. In addition, they need to be on the same page to work as a team.

Everyone involved in the project must feel comfortable expressing themselves, sharing ideas, and asking questions.  

Communication helps build trust, essential to building a successful business relationship with coworkers who don't share an office space with you daily.

How To Overcome it?

Use video calls and chat tools like Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts. These tools allow for more in-depth conversations by enabling them to see and read each other's facial expressions and body language.

Also, be aware of time zones. For example, if you need something urgently from someone who works in another time zone than yours, but it's 3 AM for them, you might not get an immediate response.

2. Time Management

As a remote worker, you're more likely to be interrupted. Many don't have physical boundaries to protect them from distractions. So you can easily get distracted by social media, email alerts, and phone calls. Even if working without interruptions, you often need to learn what coworkers are up to.

Be proactive about setting boundaries around your time (and space). For example, make it clear that you're working at this particular time of day and when you will be available later.

How To Overcome it?

Keep track of what needs to be done. It can be as simple as using a calendar app and setting up a routine for yourself, or it could involve something like the Pomodoro Technique (a method of working in 25-minute increments, followed by 5 minutes of rest).

Whatever you choose, ensure that the things you set out to accomplish are realistic and achievable. And ensure that each task has its deadline so that if one project takes longer than expected (and probably will), you're only left with something to do the next day. 

Finally, focus on one thing at a time without feeling overwhelmed by other tasks or responsibilities waiting for your attention elsewhere.

3. Lack of Support and Encouragement

Your manager sometimes might not give you the support and encouragement you need. The same goes for your colleagues at work, who probably would cheer you if you were all working face-to-face daily. 

It can also be hard to get guidance from friends who need to become more familiar with how different remote working can be from a typical job situation. So even encouragement from family members might only come sometimes.

How To Overcome it?

The first step to overcoming this challenge is realizing it's not just you; many others feel their work should be valued or their contributions acknowledged.

Remote workers are very optimistic about their jobs and the people they work with. However, sometimes this can lead to a lack of support from others because those around them don't realize that they need help or encouragement—they assume everything is fine when it may be far from it.

So if you feel isolated, try writing down your accomplishments as they happen (big or small). Doing this daily can create an archive of evidence proving how vital your work is. 

4. Isolation

One of the biggest challenges of remote working is feeling isolated. When you're working in an office, your colleagues are around and can help you if you need them. But it is not the case if you work from home.

How To Overcome it?

Having a routine that includes time with friends and family is essential. If you don't have friends or family in your area, find a local community where you can volunteer. 

If you are an introvert, consider joining meetups for your favorite hobby or interest. The goal is to get out of your house as much as possible because being cooped indoors makes it harder to focus on work.

If possible, try getting a gym membership so that when the weather outside isn’t great (or if there is terrible traffic), it’s easy for you to go work out instead. 

5. Technological Issues

Technology issues in remote working can be a big problem. For example, if you use a video conferencing tool like Skype or Zoom, you may find that the call quality is not good enough for them to hear what you’re saying. 

Poor internet connection, hardware, software bug, user error, etc., can contribute to this. There can also be other disturbances like traffic, dogs barking, or noisy neighbors. So you must have all bases covered when handling this.

How To Overcome it?

You can prepare for this by knowing your tools inside and out and having a backup plan if needed. In addition, make sure you’re using the latest software versions and updates so that everything works smoothly. 

If there's an issue with your computer or phone, have someone else help troubleshoot it remotely; ask another colleague how they set up their computer or phone (or even use Google search) to find answers before calling IT support!

6. Work-life Balance

It is challenging in remote work to separate work from life. But, on the other hand, you don't have the exact physical boundaries you would in an office, so getting wrapped up in work is easy.

How To Overcome it?

 It's tempting to stay in the workspace all day and night, especially if you have a deadline. But this can lead to burnout and poor productivity. 

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance is by setting strict boundaries between the two areas. For example,

  • Don't check your email when you wake up (even if you itch to do so). Instead, start with some yoga stretches and meditation—something that helps you clear your head and put things into perspective before diving into any tasks for the day.
  • When it's time for lunch or dinner, ensure not to eat at your desk (very important). It keeps you from getting distracted while also giving you something other than a laptop screen to look at while eating.
  • Make sure you have time for your social life outside work. Take time every week or two to meet up with friends or participate in activities that aren't related to work.
  • Take breaks between working on something important (if possible) so that your brain has time to think about it—this helps prevent burnout from overthinking problems and coming up with bad ideas because you're tired!

Remote Work is Here to Stay

Remote working is the future of work, business, and technology. It's also the future of society. Yet, with an increasing number of companies embracing remote working to attract top talent and reduce costs, it's clear that we're just scratching the surface regarding understanding how this new landscape will play out.

Many call this shift in how we work "the end of the office." But that doesn't mean traditional offices are going away anytime soon—the truth is that many employees still prefer face-to-face interaction with their colleagues and bosses daily.

Bottom Line 

There you have it: the six most common challenges of remote working and how to overcome them. As you can see, it’s not as difficult as you might think. The key is to keep your mind open, learn from your mistakes, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.