Five challenges to working from home and how to overcome them
The coronavirus pandemic changed the way we worked, played and even breathed - lived rather - during last year. Things are slowly improving; we are getting used to life with masks and hand sanitisers and social distancing, while the new vaccines have given hope that everything would in fact go back to how it was in the pre-COVID19 times.
But the pandemic has probably changed forever the way people - at least some of them - work. Many companies, including big multinational firms, have realised that working from home, is not a bad idea at all, with social networking giants Facebook even announcing that by 2030 half of its employees would work remotely.
There are some fields such as medical professions where it’s next to impossible to work from home, but in industries such as technology and media where it is possible, COVID-19 has opened up a new work culture.
The biggest benefit of working from home for companies is that they can save millions spent on infrastructure. And the workers, a majority of them anyway, are generally happy that they could be at home next to their family and still continue earning.
But it is not a perfect picture as it seems to be as there are plenty of pitfalls in it. Both parties - the companies and employees - need to ensure productivity as well the physical and mental well being of the workers. "Here are our suggestions for making remote work beneficial for both the employee and the employer.
Proper communication, or rather the lack of it, is one of the main challenges employees experience when they work from home. In an office atmosphere, besides emails and the regular correspondence channels, there is always the opportunity for a personal touch, which is crucial in communication. While working from home, videoconferencing and emails replace meetings, and virtual communication has a lot of limitations. When we communicate directly our body language has a lot to do in relaying our messages and that area is totally blurred in virtual communication.
So it is essential to use more means of communication, that is to blend emails and video calls, set up regular meetings to keep people in the loop and have an instant messaging solution to ensure urgent questions get answered in a timely manner.
Blurred lines between work and after work
Unplugging after work may sound like a trivial problem, but it’s in fact among the biggest challenges employees face while working from home. When you work from the office, you have to go home or at least make a move after finishing your work, but it is not the case while working from home. With nothing else to do, people sit in front of their computers even after work hours which leads to an unhealthy body and mind.
To avoid this make sure that you shut down your computer as soon as the work hours are over and do something that would give you some personal time and space. Also, make it a policy to not reply to non-critical emails after work hours.
Feeling lonely is another serious issue companies and employers have to tackle in a remote work setup. Regular office interaction is lost when people are working from home. And this is often the binding element for corporate culture and building friendships. And with this gone, a great deal of the feeling of belonging to a certain organization is lost. Social media, which is a powerful communication tool, could also have an adverse effect and aggravate loneliness.
To avoid this, companies can make use of various online meetings and team management solutions which help both to keep the team members engaged and connected to each other, as well as productive and focused on the job. Meanwhile, employees need to be proactive and jump on a call whenever needed to clarify tasks and get work going, instead of engaging in long exchanges of emails. This can help get things done quickly but it can also reconnect people while working on specific tasks.
Work distractions and lack of motivation
With no bosses around to keep an eye on you, working from home might look like an attractive option at least in the beginning. But it comes with plenty of challenges and distractions is a key problem area. Tackle your distractions head-on because that’s the best way to deal with it. Creating a working environment at home, including setting up a desk, a proper wifi connection, dressing up and dedicating specific time also would help you get better returns from working from home.
If you are easily distracted with your surroundings, set up an office room where you can be on your own. Social media is a big NO while working. Switch off your phone or make it silent if it’s not really needed, do not bother whether your favourite team is winning or losing, and don’t let anything disturb you until you complete the task.
If you are not productive enough, your bosses are surely going to find it out sooner than later. So it is important you do an assessment of your work every day and make sure that you are up to the mark. It is also a good idea to reward yourself at the end of the day with a movie or a small treat. However here we need to make sure that you don't overindulge. A movie, a round of football with your friends, a workout at your nearby gym or a run at a park near you could be the ideal way to celebrate your successful day.
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