A decade ago, most people had to go out of their way to find a career that let them work remotely, or working somewhere other than the office. Now everybody’s doing it: the amount of people working remotely has increased by 400% since 2010 – and with the COVID-19 outbreak happening now, that number will only continue to grow.
Working remotely has a number of advantages, and the biggest benefit is undoubtedly the improved flexibility. You have more freedom when it comes to setting your work schedule.
But that doesn’t mean that working outside of the office doesn’t come with its own set of challenges. That’s why we’ve come up with a handy survival guide to help you get ready for working remotely. Let’s get started.
What are the challenges of working remotely?
First things first: Let’s talk about potential obstacles.
Many of the challenges you faced when working in an office setting will still exist when working remotely. You’ll even experience a few new challenges as you adjust to a new manner of work.
But knowing is half the battle. If you have an idea of what challenges lie ahead, you can learn how to overcome the hurdles associated with remote work.
- Loneliness: Isolation is a real concern when working remotely, which is why it’s the most reported challenge among remote workers. Spending too much time in isolation can have a negative impact on your mental health, leading to higher stress levels, poor decision making, and it can even lead to physical illnesses.
- Lack of communication: If your team had a difficult time communicating in the office, it’s going to be even harder when they’re working remotely. Poor communication is a real problem, and can lead to missed deadlines and unnecessary errors.
- Overworking: Nearly 70% of workers surveyed by Cisco admitted they were more productive when they worked remotely. Unfortunately, there is a downside to this. Without a clear work schedule, it’s easy to become a non-stop workaholic. This can also have a negative effect on your mental health, and can lead to burnout.
- Underworking: Underworking can also be a challenge, especially for people who need the structure of working alongside their manager and supervisor. Some people need supervision, and too much flexibility with hours can lead to procrastination and missed deadlines.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at some solutions to these challenges.
Working remotely: Best practices for working outside the office
If this is your first time doing remote work, you may feel frustrated and overwhelmed when faced with the challenges mentioned above.
Maybe you’ve been forced to go remote overnight and don’t know where to start. We know exactly how you feel. Here are some tips to help make the process easier:
- Touch base with your team / remote client: Good communication is essential when working remotely. Weekly or bi-weekly meetings over video chat makes it easy to touch base with your remote client or check on the status of your workers if you’re managing a virtual team.
- Set boundaries: It’s important to stay in touch with clients and team members, but you never want to give the impression that you’re accessible 24/7. Set a specific time during the day for reading and answering emails and text messages. You can follow regular 9-5 business hours, or you can set your own office hours and inform clients / team members of those hours. Here at monday.com, we’ve asked our employees to block off “family time”, for instance, for when they are disconnected and spending time with their family.
- Set working hours: The line between work and personal life can get blurred if you let it. Being overworked can have a negative impact on your health and your productivity, which is why you need to clearly separate your work hours and personal time.
3 tips for working remotely from home
Working remotely is challenging on its own, but working from home poses even more difficulties you won’t experience at a shared office space. Not only are you surrounded with even more distractions, you can fall into the trap of never leaving the house.
Here are some tips to help you stay happy, healthy, and productive while working from home.
- Have a before-work routine: Start your day just like you would when going into the office. Wake up, shower, and get dressed for work. This will help you get into a working mindset, which can help you become more productive.
- Set a designated work area: If you have an extra room, turn it into your office. Having a designated workstation can also help with getting into a work mindset while you’re at home. Even if you don’t have a free room, you can buy a compact-sized desk and set up a workspace in a corner somewhere.
- Go outside: No, seriously. Go outside. Take walks, drink your coffee on your porch or balcony, or just step outside for 10-minute breaks.
Following these tips will help you minimize the challenges associated with working remotely. That way, you can focus on its benefits.
Working remotely: Pros and cons of virtual work
As we mentioned above, there are a few downsides to working remotely. The biggest drawback is the risk of becoming consumed with work. Not having a healthy work-life balance can lead to loneliness, stress, and even depression, which is why it’s important to set boundaries and set working hours.
With a healthy routine, however, working remotely has a lot of advantages. Some of these benefits include:
- More flexibility when setting your schedule
- No sitting in traffic as you commute to and from work
- Lower operating costs for businesses, which means you could negotiate a better salary
- You can work from anywhere with internet access
Working remotely can also save you money. No commuting means you’re not spending as much money on gas, and you’re not putting as much wear and tear on your car from stop-and-go traffic.
Then there’s the money spent on eating lunch at restaurants and buying coffee on the drive to work. When you add up all the expenses, it’s not hard to see that working remotely can save you an average of $4,000 every year.
What are the best tools for working remotely?
There’s a reason why many of the top tools for working remotely focus on communication. You need an open line of communication to ensure your virtual projects run smoothly.
Whether you’re working one-on-one with a remote client or you’re part of a distributed team, good communication is essential for managing expectations and getting everyone on the same page. Every remote worker needs:
- A video conferencing tool: Real-time communication with other remote workers or your remote client is important. Tools like Skype and Zoom make it easy to host project kick- offs and other meetings, so everyone knows what’s expected of them.
- An app for text communication: Sometimes you need to send a quick message or a document to a client or teammate without drafting a professional email. This is where tools like Slack or WhatsApp come in handy.
- Cloud storage: This is especially important if you’re collaborating with multiple people. Having a centralized database for documents, company assets, contracts, and other important information is a must when you’re working remotely.
- A platform for mentoring: This can help organizations connect and support its employees, no matter where they are located. Guider is a mentoring platform that can help your organization support and develop its people virtually.
Looking for an all-in-one solution to help you manage tasks and stay in touch with collaborators? Monday.com is a Work Operating System (Work OS) that makes it easier for you to manage and track remote work.
Built-in communication tools, centralized document storage, and integration with all of the popular office tools means you can spend less time going back and forth with team members and clients, and devote more time on what’s important: Delivering high-quality work.
Get started today to see how monday.com removes the barriers associated with working remotely.