I have been working remotely for more than 9 years now. I have been doing the remote work thing since before it was fashionable.
I have been an employee and have run my own business during this time. Through both, what I have learned is that there are many benefits. These include flexibility, no commute, more time with those that matter the most, and the ability to work in your PJs. However, it does come with challenges.
Inability to separate work life from home life.
I work many hours, so I get it. But it is possible to make it work. And truly take advantage of the great benefits and time-saving.
To separate your life, you must create a go-to and leave-from routine as you would leave to go to the office. And leave the office. You should create the same process for yourself.
Create a routine to start your work day. It could be as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee in a specific mug or going for a short walk, entering through the front door, and going to your laptop. Do the same for when you are ending your day. Walk out through the back door of your house to simulate leaving. I personally close my laptop. These processes will create a signal to your brain that it is time to work or it is time to end the day. Create a barrier with a physical process to end your day.
It will make a massive difference!
The feeling of isolation.
Many remote workers struggle with being alone and lacking guidance during tough times, leaving them feeling helpless.
As a business owner managing a remote team, it’s crucial to establish processes that address this issue. Implementing a communication matrix or rules can guide employees on what to do when encountering problems. Additionally, promoting regular team interactions, such as meetings, social events, and frequent check-ins, allows individuals to connect despite physical distance.
You can also reduce loneliness by contacting colleagues, family, and friends. Make sure you are finding time for human interaction. It makes a significant difference!
It can be very easy to be distracted.
Grab a snack. Do some washing. Watch some tv. Do anything else but the tasks at hand. So easy to get distracted!
Maintaining focus and productivity can be challenging, requiring self-discipline and effective time management skills. This is one of the main reasons people say, “Remote work is not for me.” But like anything, with a plan, you can succeed.
The number 1 way to maintain focus is to have a structured day. Creating a normal day for yourself will create a habit that reminds you that now is work time. Structure is the key to success.
Another tip/trick that helps is ensuring you are building in breaks in that structure. Time in your day to do a task around the house. Time in your day to get outside for sunlight and fresh air. Time in your day to do the things you want, and that will give you energy for the next structured work period.
Focus on structure and building in time that will make you happy.
And this, at times, comes from blurred boundaries. But at times, it comes from not having other activities outside of work.
This can happen because people are not leaving their houses. They are not commuting to an office, so it is easy to say no to personal activities because it is an effort to go out. No to the gym. No to a lunch meet up. No to a beverage after work. No to life. If you are working from home, it takes an effort to have other interests because it takes effort.
A way to help with this is to make a concerted effort to get out.
Exercise outside or arrange with a friend to meet at a gym to work out together—schedule time to meet up with friends to get together. Find a hobby that allows you to go to a different location. Make time to call (not text or social media) family or friends. Get out of your own space and into the real world.
Take advantage of the flexibility to live! The benefits of the flexible schedule will make a huge difference, and you will never understand how you lived without it.
Go out and find your life! You only have 1 to live, so live it to the fullest!
Struggling with a need for more effective communication and collaboration.
I cannot see the other people I am around, so how do I ask them a question? With face-to-face interactions, it can be easier to convey tone, intent, and non-verbal cues. Misunderstandings may arise, and building rapport with colleagues can be more challenging. Collaborative tasks may require additional effort to coordinate and complete, especially across different time zones.
And it is generally harder with new team members as a manager cannot look over and see how the new person is doing. You must do more than pop in and check in on them.
Communication and collaboration are more challenging. But it is not impossible. For you to be successful, you need to be more deliberate. Focus on being clear and concise and taking every opportunity to connect with your team members.
Communication can be more difficult, but it is not impossible. Consider others, be adaptable, and over-communicate whenever possible!
Fear of being forgotten.
There is still the belief that if people do not see you, they will forget about you. And if people forget about you, you will never progress in the business you are working.
They fear that being physically distant from colleagues and superiors can make it harder to showcase skills, receive feedback, and build professional relationships that can aid in career growth.
Now, this is possible. But it will depend on the environment and the individual.
Here are some ideas to make sure you are not forgotten:
- Do what is expected of you
- Meet your deadlines
- Communicate clearly, concisely, and promptly
- Be proactive in reaching out to team members and offering to help
- Take advantage of social and networking events provided by the business to be present
- Request performance feedback regularly
- Take advantage of every professional development opportunity provided
- Be your best advocate
- Take time to thank those that have helped you
Building visibility and advancing your career in a remote work environment requires proactivity and consistent effort. By staying engaged, communicating effectively, showcasing your skills, and seeking out opportunities, you can overcome the limitations of remote work and continue to grow professionally.
Working in a remote environment is different and can come with challenges, but the pros exceed the cons.
Everyone can be successful in a remote environment. It just takes a positive mindset and a desire to be the best version of yourself.
Be proactive. Be consistent. And use your opportunities wisely! And then live life to the fullest.