Remote Work

The Joys and Sorrows of Working from Home

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Ah, remote work, the sought-after dream of office life! No more early wake-ups, traffic battles or dealing with chatty co-workers when you’re not in the mood. However, those who work remotely understand that along with its perks, remote work presents its own set of challenges. And we’re not referring to accidentally turning on your camera during a Zoom meeting with messy hair, your cat sitting on your laptop and sending gibberish messages on Slack, or struggling to resist the temptation of constant snacking.

Working remotely demands an entirely different approach to work compared to a traditional office environment, and this should not be taken lightly.

Let’s explore the five most common and challenging problems faced by remote employees, along with some effective tactics to overcome them.

1. Unplugging after work

There’s a common misconception that remote workers are slackers. In reality, remote workers often find themselves overworking rather than slacking off. When working in an office, there is a certain value placed on physical presence, leaving remote workers feeling like they’re starting from a position below zero in terms of visibility and recognition. This leads to a persistent feeling of guilt and tendency to overcompensate.

Remote workers often believe that their managers perceive them as being in pajamas, eating pizza and watching Netflix while pretending to work. Consequently, they feel the need to work harder and put in longer hours to prove their dedication. We’re talking about compensating with two extra hours of work for spending an extra ten minutes on lunch.

If you can relate to this behavior, it’s crucial to change your perspective, as burnout is a real thing.

Ask for help from family or friends who can keep you in check if you’re struggling to do it yourself. If this doesn’t work, consider communicating with your manager. They are often preoccupied with various responsibilities and may forget to provide reassurance to employees. By reaching out, you give them an opportunity to offer feedback, either suggesting changes or commending your performance. Either way, from then on you’ll be able to enjoy your working hours without doubts or excessive stress.

2. Time management

Working from home usually means more distractions, even for those who live alone. Everyday tasks, like dishes and laundry seem to scream for our attention - which is not a problem in itself - but five-minute chores can easily add up to 30 minutes of lost time each day. Additionally, activities such as checking social media, turning on the TV for new updates, or spending an hour choosing music while working can be even more damaging to productivity. If you find yourself engaging in these distractions, it’s important not to get frustrated. Instead, recognize that you’re procrastinating, stop and refocus on your work. The key is to prioritize work during your dedicated working hours. Of course, taking breaks as needed is also important, but it’s crucial to avoid turning those breaks into lengthy procrastination sessions that force you to work until evening hours to catch up with your workload.

3. Loneliness

Feeling lonely while working from home is a common experience, especially if you don’t engage in any meaningful conversations with your co-workers. Without actively trying to socialize it’s easy to become isolated. This is especially true for new employees who may not know anyone within the company and are less likely to reach out.

Know that your colleagues are likely going through similar feelings of loneliness. By simply being friendly and pleasant, you have a high chance of connecting with co-workers who also crave talking to someone like a normal human being. Remember, your remote colleagues are the same people you’d be working with in an office setting, and in that case some of them would already be your friends.

If you happen to ‘click’ with a colleague who lives in the same city as you, there is a possibility of meeting up to work together over a cup of delicious coffee in the real world. Why would you miss out on that?

4. Productivity

Managing your time effectively while working remotely requires serious self-motivation and discipline. Although remote work offers flexibility, it’s important to avoid relying too much on ‘winging it’, as it can hinder productivity. It’s essential to establish a structured approach instead. Start by dedicating 5-10 minutes at the start of your workday to organize your tasks. Create a to-do list and break it down into manageable chunks of time for each task. Having an organized schedule sets the foundation for productivity.

Some people find time-tracking apps useful for managing their time effectively, while others discover that listening to a specific type of music solely during work sessions helps them focus.

Experiment, see what works for you, and use it to help you get into the ‘zone’.

5. Daily routine

When your work hours are flexible, keeping a daily routine can be challenging. Some days you’ll wake up motivated and complete all your tasks with energy and discipline. But, other days, you’ll find yourself sleeping in or having chores in the morning that disrupt your schedule and force you to work longer hours or make up for lost time over the weekend. This can happen from time to time, but if it starts to happen too often, the situation is less than ideal.

To tackle this issue, it’s helpful to schedule a non-work activity immediately after your work hours, which you commit to without fail. This activity can serve as a transition between work mode and relaxation mode. It can be something like taking a walk, working out, calling your parents to say hi or running to the store to get groceries for dinner. This is a pretty simple trick that can help you wind down from work and focus on yourself and your personal life more quickly.

Finally, the key is to strive for an experience that resembles working in an office as closely as possible. Remote work often requires dividing your focus between personal and professional life, sometimes during completely unexpected moments. We hope that the advice above can help you create a productive and fulfilling working environment for yourself, allowing you to fully enjoy the benefits of remote work.

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