Challenges at Work - Problems and how to solve for them
The challenges at work in a remote setting are slightly different from those in a colocated setting. See what they are and how to solve for them.
Be it isolation from the outside world or lack of communication, challenges at work are an all too real issue. For remote workers, this can be particularly tough. In comparison with the office workers, these challenges can be at a whole different level and often ignored by remote workers. However, awareness of these can help you solve them and avoid future instances with these.
We have spoken to quite a few people over the past year or so and have gained an understanding of their tryst with remote work. They told us about the best, good and the worst things for them as far as remote work is concerned. We also conducted a survey of 892 workers from 26 countries to understand the state of work. You can find what they had to say here. Using the inputs we got from these places, we have put together the below points on challenges faced in a remote work setting and how to solve for them.
Challenges at work you can solve for by yourself:
1) Keeping yourself motivated when working
Given that you do not have a colleague constantly encouraging you and nobody to cheer you on, it is easy to lose motivation. This is not just a personal challenge, but one that can be solved by the company, too. Have constant checkpoints that you should meet and increase the bar over time. This will help you to strive to achieve them and will also be a good motivator. If this is seen among many employees, the team at large can take action such as regular progress reports and should push each other to keep it up.
2) Burnout and compromising health
Working remotely, it is very easy to overwork and do it to an extent that you hit burnout. According to this article by HelpGuide, "Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands." In a remote working environment, with the compulsion to get a certain amount of work done, and since many of us aren't used to this way of work, getting stressed out is fairly common. We have written about how to decompress while working from home, do check it out.
3) Challenges at work due to improper structuring of the day
At an office, there are usually set working hours to come in and go out. However, this isn't seen in remote work and you have to be the maker of your own schedule. Improperly structuring your day or failing to do so could be detrimental for you as well as the team. To help, you could use time tracking apps and to-do lists to get your work done on time. These can help you slot the things you have at hand in a well spaced out manner over the day.
4) Interruptions and distractions due to other people
One of the challenges at work in a remote work environment is that you might not always have a space where you are completely free to work by yourself. There could be kids in your house or people constantly popping in and ringing the doorbell. Depending on your style of work, this could be a real nuisance. To avoid this, set up your office in a room that is used only by you and where no one will disturb you during the work hours.
5) Isolation/ loneliness due to working alone
While for some people, having no one around them can be blissful and mean a 100% concentration, for others it could be that they need to hear sounds or be around people. Be it the water-cooler chats or the lunch meets. Not only this, remote workers often tend to unknowingly go into a hermit mode. For this, conscious effort on your part to spend time with people is a necessity when working remotely.
Challenges at work at the company level:
1) Lack of communication
It could happen that due to the setting being remote, important data is left out. When communicating with the team, all the members may not be online or may have another task at hand. Some messages may be sent without complete context creating more confusion. For this, it is vital that you over communicate every little detail with your team members. Have the important stuff saved in a central repository using a good documentation tool. Good communication is an important step in improving the work done by your team.
2) Problems due to troublesome clients
Not all clients blend well with a remote style of working. This is simply because they are not accustomed to it and do not open their mind to it. To tackle this, you will simply have to consistently perform well. Keep your services top notch. Also, if a client is only a waste of your time, then maybe it is better to focus your energy on some other rather than waiting for a sale to happen. This is of course a judgement call and you should be careful while making this decision.
3) Inefficient onboarding leading to difficulties at later points
In a remote setting, it can be really difficult to onboard someone. This is because unlike in a colocated office, you can not directly gauge how much the person has understood of what is being told and if they find it easy or not. This gets problematic for both, the new hire and the existing employees. To tackle this, implement some good practices in your onboarding process. We have put together a checklist to make your onboarding more successful.
4) Time zone troubles
In a distributed team, the members will be split over different zones all across the world. Theses differences could pose as serious challenges to your team's work. To deal with this, make use of asynchronous communication. Encourage your team to give complete details over every text they send. Time zone battles might not always be easy to solve, though. You could try forming your team in a way that the people who collaborate on a task do so without much difficulty.
5) Constant technological advancements
With the ever growing tech market, it gets quite a difficult task to learn the new tools and stay up to date. There is always something new to try but you don't really know and can't guarantee if the tool will work out for your firm. How do you tackle this? It is good to experiment with tech, but do so until you find a tool that meets your use cases. It is good to shell a few extra bucks to buy the premium version of such tools. Then, check what are the areas you wish it could be better in and if there is any update coming. If not, and if these areas are really important to your firm, then go for a better tool that combats these.
Some resources for overcoming challenges at work:
As a remote worker, these challenges can make you feel very out and down in the dumps. It is best to talk to people who have faced these and understand their ways of overcoming them. Remote Clan is a community of remote workers, some of whom have been at it for decades now, and is a great place to talk it out. Find people who you can relate to and learn how they deal with the above and other challenges at work.