With remote work becoming the norm and its benefits touted, it is no wonder that Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work study found that 99% of those surveyed want to work remotely at least for a little while during the course of their career.
But what happens if, instead of it being a choice, it becomes mandatory? The pandemic that affected our lives also changes the way we work. Now you have people working from home or remotely that have never done that in the past.
That poses a lot of challenges. Also, some companies like Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, and others decided to have a remote-first policy and either got rid of their office space or adopted a hybrid model. Even those willing to work remotely may find it challenging to cope with this new way of work, to be fair.
In that vein, here are five challenges with remote work and possible ways you can overcome them.
Challenge #1: People are not familiar with technology
From meeting in person in conference rooms, people are now Zooming or using Google Meet. This can take some getting used to, and all the features can be confusing.
For instance, how do you share your screen? If someone has to take minutes of the meeting, they might wonder how to record a google meet. And while these sound like trivial issues to some, others not familiar with new online tools may really struggle with remote work and being productive.
The best solution is to introduce a tool to the team along with a basic onboarding session that helps them get familiar with the tool and play around with its features.
Challenge #2: People cannot collaborate the way they used to
Working on a collaborative project always has its challenges. If you add remote to the mix, it goes from bad to worse. Instead of being able to work out problems in person during a project, scheduled and often unscheduled calls are trying to create an environment conducive to collaboration.
Again, there are plenty of tools that can make this easier, but as we established, another tool to master has its own challenges. Also, with people in different time zones and work hour preferences, there is often a delay going back and forth on things.
One way to move forward is to find a simple project management tool like Trello or Asana and stick to it. Have a kick-off call where you delegate and divide the work and have daily or weekly check-ins on the tool or on a call.
Challenge #3: Project management is difficult
For traditional companies that don’t rely on technology to manage projects, it is proving to be difficult to manage projects with a distributed team.
Even if you don’t want to invest in a project management tool, you can always stick to Google Docs or Sheets to create a timeline and divide responsibilities.
It does help to be innovative and think creatively to deal with these issues.
Challenge #4: People find it difficult to strike a work-life balance
Thanks to the always-on culture and the pandemic, people’s social lives have been affected to the point where work is pretty much all they do.
And for those people that didn’t have a home office before the pandemic and those who don’t necessarily have a dedicated space to work in, the lines between work and life get blurred.
In fact, a study found that US employees found themselves working 3 hours more each day during the pandemic.
It’s important to set boundaries and prioritize your needs above all else. More importantly, do not work from a bed. Along with chronic neck and back issues, you also make it difficult to fall asleep.
The new mantra is to integrate work and life instead of trying to find a balance.
Challenge #5: People struggle to find constant motivation
People like being around other people. The pandemic forced a lot of people to be confined to their homes, and that isolation can cause employees to feel demotivated and struggle to find the inspiration to be productive all the time.
First, it’s essential for companies and employees to realize that these are not normal times. It is okay to feel like you’re languishing from time to time.
By making mental health a priority and scheduling fun calls with co-workers, employees can create a bubble of positivity and draw motivation from there.
Companies that encourage quiet time – a time period where you have no meeting or calls scheduled – also find that this increases productivity.
How to make it work for you
Remote work has a ton of benefits – being able to set your own hours, increased productivity, a sense of ownership, and flexibility. A good way to experience these benefits is to find out what works for you personally and stick to it.
But, if you don’t have a say in your work hours, create a growth mindset to accept things status quo and try to reclaim some time by having a morning or night routine.