The current and ongoing digitalized state of the world has given rise to a lot of online jobs in the business world. Most of these online jobs require zero physical presence of their workers, thus enabling them to work remotely, and this practice presents its challenges of working remotely.
Working remotely has many advantages; the joy of having a flexible schedule, no commuting, working wherever suits you best, and so on. However, despite the numerous advantages of remote jobs, they also have challenges. With the current world situation, working remotely is no longer the future of work, but It's the present situation. So learning about it and its challenges will help prepare you to succeed.
Most times, you may not plan to work remotely, but it just happens. It could be a new job opportunity, and you don't want distance to hinder you or your current job established a new branch and appointing you as its manager. However, you can't move to the branch's location, or you have to move but still want to maintain your job; like what happened to me.
I've been engaged in working remotely for about eight years now, and it was challenging during the first year. As I mentioned earlier, working remotely does have its advantages and challenges. If not prepared, these challenges will make you give up when you haven't even started. I have highlighted eight challenges that come with working remotely and mentioned ways to avoid, manage, and overcome them; they worked for me and can work for you too. Let's check them out.
Challenges of Working Remotely and Their Solutions
- Time Management
Working remotely requires a lot of determination and focus. With these, it is easy to get distracted, resulting in a lot of lost time. Distractions can come in different ways and forms, for instance, your kids playing in the yard, your neighbor seeking your attention on something, or a playful moment with your spouse. These things and many others can pop up and disrupt your working schedule.
When working remotely, dealing with time management issues is difficult, but it can be done. Below are some ways to manage your time properly when working remotely.
- Get rid of external distractions: If it's the kids, get them a babysitter or take them to grandma's. The bottom line is to keep them engaged and in a safe place for the amount of time you'll be working.
- Set a timer: You may have issues sitting for a long time working on something with a superior around to ensure accountability. You could set a timer to help you manage your minutes and get the job done. For instance, if the tasks take 8 – 10 hours to accomplish, you could set a timer for 2 hours, after which you take a break (say 30 mins) and then run another 2 hours; continue the process until the job is done.
- Set a Schedule: one reason for poor time management is working with a schedule that doesn't suit your activities. Consider setting a work schedule that works for you and then relate it to your boss. This will allow them to know your working hours and when it's ok to reach you.
When working remotely, it is easy to get distracted. These distractions could come from your phone, social media, the kids, neighbors, your spouse, dishes in the sink, laundry, and so on. Plus, there's no one around like a supervisor to ensure accountability, which makes getting sidetracked all the easier.
To resolve this:
- You'll have to get rid of external and internal distractions. I gave a brief explanation of how to deal with external distractions above. As for the internal ones, for instance, social media, getting rid of such depends on how determined and disciplined you are. To help yourself, you could get rid of your phone or gadget you go online with for the time you'll be working.
- Also, try working in a noise-free environment at home, a cafe, or a park. This will help limit the number of distractions you'll be exposed to.
- Additionally, setting a timer could help you stay 100% focused and away from distractions until you finish the job.
3. Different Time Zones
Remote jobs provide numerous possibilities to interact with a global team. This will allow you to explore cultural differences, share ideas, and gain a wealth of knowledge. However, working together can be difficult because you and your team will be working in different time zones, and coordinating could be difficult.
One of the numerous difficulties encountered while working remotely with a global team is slow communications, thus resulting in a delay in getting feedback and low engagement with the team.
To manage this problem, set and share your preferred working schedule. One of the peaks of a remote job is that it allows you to choose your working hours. Try choosing hours that share a preferred time zone with your team and also become accustomed to working in asynchronous time zones.
4. Difficulty in Staying Motivated
Staying motivated while working in a remote environment can be difficult. Remote workers must be self-motivated and masters of prioritization and time management, as opposed to office workers who are under the supervision and the aura of a working environment to keep on track.
The responsibility of staying on track falls on your shoulders. At the same time, you enjoy the other advantages of working remotely: you don't have to commute, have a flexible schedule, operate asynchronously, and have a management that has different hours than you.
To stay motivated while working on a task remotely:
- Break down your task: divide your tasks into smaller chunks and start chewing the bigger and stronger chunks first before moving to smaller and softer ones. This will allow you to easily deal with the tough stuff when you are still refreshed and easily deal with the softer ones when you have little energy left.
- Set Breaks: If you're struggling to work, go for recess. Taking breaks will help refresh your mind and even come up with ideas to tackle the task easily.
- Know your Work-State-of-Mind: one of the common reasons for lack of motivation is trying to work with a nonwork-state-of-mind. Then your body will be willing, but your mind won't be engaged. In the long run, it will drain you of all your energy and end up being a complete waste of time. So know when you function best. If you're a night owl, set your work schedule to be in the night hours. If you're an early morning bird, set your schedule in the mornings.
5. Technological Failures
Hardware malfunctions, software flaws, and the Internet can all be problematic when working from home. Unlike in the office, where you have the tech crew to come up and fix these kinds of problems easily, getting them to your remote workspace can be difficult and time-consuming.
Technology is essential for remote work, so to ensure smooth operations, you can ask your technical team to inspect your system periodically throughout the month to avoid inescapable technical difficulties.
Other ways to avoid technological failures are to:
- Have a backup system: Though expensive, having a backup system for instances where one crashes is a good way not to suffer much when technological failures occur. This way, all you have to do is backup your work in a drive or on the cloud so in case your system crashes, you can easily obtain your work and move to the backup system while waiting for the other one to get fixed.
- Get quality software: If you work remotely, you depend on productivity apps to complete your tasks, so you should spend money on your tools. Quality software does not break down easily; thus, this will reduce the chances of your software crashing.
Security is also one of the challenges of working remotely. Organizations have a multitude of options for securing data, both at the infrastructure and individual levels. However, the security of sensitive data is only as strong as its weakest link, which is frequently the employee.
To avoid being hacked:
- Have a secure office: Physical security should be addressed when working remotely. Thieves could take your laptop from the cafe or your home workplace.
- Keep devices and software up-to-date: updated devices and software make it difficult for attackers to take advantage of the vulnerabilities in operating systems. Also, the updated software will automatically look for and install security updates, making it difficult for them to be hacked.
- Enable automatic locking: Ensure your devices lock automatically while inactive for a certain amount of time.
- Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication: strong passwords contain numbers, alphabets, and symbols. This will make it difficult for attackers to guess your password easily. Also, the risk of hacking is drastically decreased by two-factor authentication. Even if the attacker discovers your password, they will not be able to access the system because they lack the second key.
7. Trust Issues
Trust is essential for a positive workplace culture. Trust issues can easily develop among remote teams, especially if team members have never met in person and are unable to see what each other is doing.
It can be difficult to establish trust between companies and employees online. It is challenging to connect and build that trustworthy relationship when supervisors are unable to immediately observe work progress or don't have the chance to socialize with their staff. Regardless of the amount of Zoom video sessions, direct messaging, or nonstop emails, in-person conversations during lunch breaks surpasses them all.
However, some of the things to do to enable trust when working remotely include:
- Share more about yourself: This will let the teammates know you. Even though your conversations are on zoom meetings or direct texts message, let them see your personality by allowing them into other aspects of your life. However, be mindful to keep it moderate.
- Maintain close proximity by engaging in video calls.
- Be dependable and let people know you can be relied upon.
- Help others by standing up for them.
- Display integrity.
8. No Social Interaction
Working remotely can be lonely. If left untreated, it may lead to mental health problems, including depression or anxiety. Lack of social interaction is a typical problem, especially given the long hours of remote work. Even if you prefer to work alone, the lack of face-to-face interaction over time may hinder your productivity and cause you to feel disengaged.
To avoid or deal with this kind of scenario, you might practice being proactive in contacting your coworkers via calls and messages. Use video conferencing tools like Zoom, Webex meetings, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams to hold some brainstorming sessions with your employees.
Additionally, you might consider spending more time working in co-working locations to interact with others and create deep connections. Even being in close proximity to people who you don't speak to can help you feel less isolated and more connected directly.
Remote jobs have become the order of the day. Companies are now employing experts from all over the globe to help in building and developing their projects. With the current state of the world, working can easily be done online, therefore removing the need for physical presence and the problem of distance.
Working remotely does have its benefits, but they do not come without challenges. Most times, we're so blinded by the benefits of working remotely that we fail to pay attention to the challenges too. However, these challenges will come to test your work spirit. And if not prepared, you will fail.
I have discussed eight of the common challenges that face individuals who work remotely and possibly ways to deal with them. Fortifying yourself with this information will help you avoid many issues that come with a remote job. If you're already encountering them, you will definitely learn a thing or two about how to address them from this article.