While drinking coffee, an email appeared in my inbox with the subject, why is remote work so hard? My instant response was, it is not hard! That is unfair though because when you start working remotely, there are challenges to overcome.
In this guide, we will take a look at some of those challenges and offer suggestions on how to fix them. So, why is remote work so hard?
Time zones and communication
If you are a freelancer or employee, you will come up against time zones and communication issues. A colleague or client will be in a different part of the country or even continent. It will take longer to respond to your emails or Slack messages.
There are a few solutions to think about:
- Where possible, have a crossover with the main time zones that your clients or clients are available. Work one hour of your day in the same timezone then you can schedule in communication.
- Factor in the slower response when planning work, especially if you are working towards critical deadlines.
- Make sure that your communication is clear. Communication in different time zones can be frustrating because the right questions are not getting asked, or the responses are vague.
Lack of social interaction
Being an introvert, the lack of social interaction is not a big issue. That said, many people crave having conversations and engaging with others. When working from home, it is a good practice to include time with family or friends, either in person or through a video conferencing call.
Now that events are starting to resurface after the global pandemic, new opportunities to interact with others will help you. As a freelancer, attend networking events and engage with other peers. For employees, look at setting up huddles and video calls with colleagues.
When you are working in an office, it is not difficult to get distracted. It is not like you have a PS5 or kids there to ruin your productivity. There are more distractions when you are working from home.
Here are a few solutions to this problem:
- Separate your office and living space. Where possible, work in another room with no distractions. Set up a desk in a spare room or bedroom. Get creative and convert your garage into an office.
- Communicate with the household that you are working and you are not to be distracted. Of course, when you have kids at home on the school holidays, that is easier said than done. Set a boundary by pinning up a notice on the door confirming you are working.
- Create a work schedule that allows you to have time to do the things you love in life. Start later in the morning or work when the kids are in bed. As a freelancer or an employee, you need to be productive and get quality work done on time.
If you are not technically minded, this can be one of the biggest reasons remote work is so hard. When you are working from home, you do not have an IT support team at your disposal to help you with any computer-related issues.
When the internet connection drops and you are up against a deadline, it can be one of the most stressful events to happen.
Here are a few thoughts on potential solutions for technical problems:
- Always have backup internet for when your home WiFi starts to misbehave. Buy a phone with a sim card with a phone company that will allow you to tether to your laptop or desktop computer. Alternatively, use a MiFi to connect to the internet.
- Befriend someone good at fixing technical issues. Usually, you can jump on a video call, share your desk and the problem you are facing. There is also a lot of support content on YouTube.
- Many technical issues are due to the computer crashing, and work is lost due to not saving it. When you are up against a deadline, this is a nightmare. Save your work on an external hard drive and also a cloud storage service like Dropbox.
Switching off from working
This is one of my biggest struggles with remote work. At the time of writing this, it is 8pm and, my laptop should be off. It is hard to switch off, especially when you are a freelancer or building an online business.
A common issue is not setting expectations with your clients and managers. Start responding to emails at 9pm and, they are going to expect you to be available at the time. Set boundaries – effectively communicate at what time of the day you will be available to work.
Work and life should be treated equally. You need to make sure that you have time to enjoy the things you love to do in life. If you are working 50, 60 hours a week, that’s no way to live.
Hopefully, this mini-guide has answered why remote work is so hard, and the solutions help you fix these issues.