6 Struggles Remote Workers Know All Too Well
According to some estimates, 52% of global employees work remotely at least one day per week. Most of us have internet connections and reliable computers now, so that number will likely only rise in the future.
There are many benefits that come with remote work. You probably know about them:
- Remote workers can be more flexible, and able to spend more time with their family or engage in additional opportunities.
- Remote workers can customize their office as much as they like; it’s their home, after all.
- Remote workers can be happier and more productive than their counterparts.
However, not all that shines is gold. Remote work can be great – but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Even in the face of all the above benefits, these 6 struggles are all too common for remote workers across industries.
1) Feeling Isolated
In an office, you constantly have people around you. When you work from home, you often don’t. Instead, you’re part of email chains and video conferences with people who see each other all the time – while you don’t.
That struggle extends to your morale. It’s tough to stay engaged when you never get that metaphorical pat on the back for a job well done. Everyone who’s done remote work knows how tough it can be to get out of that rut.
2) A Constant Connection
As a society, we’re increasingly having trouble disconnecting from work. Getting your work email on your phone definitely doesn’t help. It’s become so prevalent, in fact, that health experts are starting to warn about the negative consequences of that constant connectivity.
That problem can be even worse when you work from home. All of a sudden, your home becomes your office, and your office becomes your home. It’s tempting to just get that one more thing done before the deadline. Working from home means avoiding the commute – but what if, in the name of disconnecting, that commute might actually be a good thing?
3) Impossible Distractions
You go to an office to work. It’s that simple. At home, chores like dishes, cleaning, and laundry are constantly waiting for you. The dog needs to go out. Suddenly, you get a package. The TV is tempting, especially with a bowl of cereal at 10am as you’re working on a major project.
None of these distractions are out of the ordinary. In fact, they’re common for everyone who’s ever worked from home. Add a kid or two and the mix, along with perhaps some good weather, and it only gets worse. Who’s supposed to get any work done when it’s so easy to focus on something (anything) else?
4) Problems with Communication
Did you know that more than 90% of all communication we perform is non-verbal? And if that’s the case, is it really surprising that email, messaging services, and even video conferencing technology don’t make up for that simple face-to-face meeting in the same room?
Almost every remote worker has faced communication troubles before. It might be because reading body language cues is impossible through digital means, or because these digital means are simply not as readily available. Either way, it can be immensely frustrating (and counterproductive).
5) Reliance on Unreliable Tech
The above point already highlighted one important part of remote work: a high reliance on technology. That, of course, brings up the obvious question: is the technology you have as reliable as you need it to be? If you’re like most remote workers, or any type of worker for that matter, the answer is most likely a resounding no.
Sounds harsh but think about it. Your computer might have to update at the worst possible time. A power outage might knock out your internet connection. When the computer breaks, you’re the one responsible for fixing it. None of these are problems when working in an office, where power outages affect everyone equally and IT is never more than a quick call or help ticket away.
6) Career Advancement Struggles
We know about the importance of professional development for long, satisfactory careers.
Think about how you get professional development opportunities. A speaker comes in at work. You learn something new through a co-worker. A conference gets brought up at a meeting, and you’re the first to speak up. All of these are much more difficult when you work from home, which explains why so many professionals in this environment complain about a lack of professional development.
Turning Struggles into Power Points
Yes, professionals throughout industries who work from home face these troubles. You’re not alone. Does that mean remote work is just not beneficial enough to pursue, and you should not even think about it as an option?
Absolutely not. These struggles are natural, but plenty of solutions exists that can help you get through them. You just have to know where to start, and you’ll be able to take a whole lot of pressure off you and your work.
Take daily time for skill growth and advancement. Lock yourself into your office during peak productivity hours. Try working at co-working spaces at least once a week to break the isolation. Have a technology backup plan, like a mobile hotspot or a keyboard for your iPad.
Simple, small steps like that can help you ensure that where other remote workers struggle, you excel. Your problems quite literally turn into power points, and we don’t just mean the presentation. Over the long term, you create a healthy work environment designed to make you the most productive worker you can be, no matter where you work from.