Being a remote worker has its advantages. No commuting, more time to get errands done, better productivity and more. But there are some challenges that a full or part-time remote worker has to accept when they come on board into their position. Check out a few of the challenges of working remote and how they can be beat:
Daily Distractions of Mixing Everyday Life and Work
Distractions are the root of all evil for remote workers. Whether it’s random phone calls from family, packages being delivered, kids busting in your office after school or that pile of laundry that needs to be done, distractions are ever-present and hard to prevent.
Instead of being overwhelmed by distractions, take a step back and prioritize. When you strategically organize your day you reduce the number of distractions you face:
- A little something called your circadian rhythm is responsible for your peaks and dips in your energy throughout the day. Most people’s minds are sharpest during mid-morning and later afternoon, so during these times get the work done that requires most concentration. During your slumps in productivity, do some menial chores, like starting a load of laundry. This way you’re not overwhelming yourself with multitasking throughout the day.
- Make sure you are working somewhere that simulates an office space—and no your couch doesn’t count! You don’t have to go to drastic measures like making a spare bedroom into a home office (though, if you have the option go for it), but consider working at the kitchen or dining room table to simulate a more defined workspace. This way you won’t be preoccupied by the T.V. or other distractions.
- Finally, make sure your family and friends understand your working hours. Whatever hours you choose to work, help them understand that you aren’t available to run errands, chat on the phone, etc. If they wouldn’t contact you if you were in a regular office, they shouldn’t be contacting you now.
Feeling Isolated or Disconnected
In PGi’s 2015 Global Telework Survey, knowledge workers in North America and EMEA stated that the top negative aspect of working remotely was alienation or feelings of disconnect. If you think about it, the average in-office worker spends 40 hours a week with his or her colleagues, and these workers build a lot of their social life around the relationships they have at work.
FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real struggle when working remote. And it’s a big part of why I don’t work remote nearly as much as some of my colleagues. It never fails that when I’m out of the office there’s some sort of free lunch or productive brainstorm that I’ve missed out on.
If you’re a full-time remote worker, you don’t really get a chance to grab lunch with your team or head out to a happy hour, especially if they live on the other side of the country. To avoid feeling like you are completely disconnected from your team, consider requesting video conferences each week to catch up. Using video is a powerful way to integrate a version of human interaction back into your work day.
Still can’t shake the feeling of isolation? Get out and do something! Having a social life becomes more important when you don’t interact during the day with colleagues. Plan to grab drinks or dinner with a friend after you’ve logged out for the day. This way, you’ll keep your sanity, and you’ll force yourself to separate your work and personal life.
Overworking may be one of the biggest challenges a remote worker can face. Because there is no definition between your work space and your home space, your work life can easily start to bleed into your personal one. The blurred line is also created from the expectation that because a remote worker never really “leaves the office”, that they should always be connected. And that’s a dangerous expectation to have.
As an example, the typical in-office worker shuts off at 17:00 and heads home, defining the line between their work and personal life in that moment. A remote worker, however, may not be able to avoid the temptation to stay available and connected 24-7 because they are quite literally surrounded by their work.
Clocking out at the end of the day is inherently important to avoid burn out and to achieve a successful work-life balance. Instead of staying constantly engaged in your work after everyone else has logged off, take time to yourself to transition back into your personal life.
Go to the gym and shift your thoughts from work to concentrating on you. Not a fan of a vigorous workout? Have a glass of wine and enjoy cooking a grandiose meal (my favorite!) or go take a walk in your neighborhood. Anything you can do to clear your mind and transition yourself back into some personal time will help you from feeling overworked and out of touch with your personal life.
Remote workers are definitely in a unique position. The struggle to achieve a work-life balance is a true challenge for these employees. But being a remote worker doesn’t have to be so challenging. With the tips above, remote workers that are struggling with isolation, distractions and overworking, can strive toward a better work-life balance.
Check out our infographic, Winding Down the Work Week, to explore how lines have blurred between work hours and personal time.
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