The workforce started telecommuting from the newly formed home office during the fall of the pandemic, not knowing what to expect. They only knew the imaginary pictures covering “Work from home!” in their brains.
If you’re telecommuting for the first time – staying aware of the risks and challenges it entails can steer you on top of the game. The earlier you recognize them, the easier it is to mitigate them.
Let’s talk about the challenges of work from home and tips to overcome them!
Waking Up to a Proper Schedule & Effective Time Management
Sounds good, right? No more setting 10+ alarms to be up on time. No more sitting in your cubicle the whole day and finding escape for a measly lunch hour. You can set your own hours and feel free to work when you want to.
Except it doesn’t work the way you think.
The concept of “normal business hours” remains the same carried on in the name of time management in a workforce. When you have fixed working hours, you know when you’re supposed to work and when you can make time for other things apart from work. You can plan for days, weeks, or months and in this way, you will know when you’re going to be working.
Ways to Avoid Time Management Doom
Set your work hours and follow them dedicatedly. In most cases, this either means maintaining regular business hours or adjusting your work hours on the set schedule. Not only will it make you more productive, but it also allows you to spend time with the people you love.
Blurred Line Between Personal & Professional
When you work from home, it is natural to see a blurred line between working time and personal space.
Ideally, your home is a center for comfort, relaxation, safety, and security. It’s a place where you shut down all the stress and tension related to work.
Working from home screws a big hole right through that neat mental division! Many employees complain they feel like they’re never off their desk job. They always feel the panicky urge to check their emails or “just get one last thing done.”
In other words, they have a hard time finding a sense of peace.
How to Avoid Blurred Work-Life Doom
Work by using Binary Opposition: Setting physical space for working on the left and separate room for home on the right.
For many, that is called a home office.
To set up your own WFH Office: You can make the best use of a spare bedroom, library, formal dining room, or any other room in your home that experiences infrequent use and convert it to a home office, even if it’s temporary in nature. If required, close the doors while you work and hang a “DND” sign making sure your work doesn’t suffer while you operate remotely.
Distractions Can be a Problem In Home Office Culture
Even if you have set a proper schedule and have a dedicated workspace, actually staying productive during your working hours can prove challenging if you’re on WFH right now.
Staying close to your personal belongings and constant reminders of household chores, it’s hard to adapt and focus on the right thing. Distractions coming from your TV, books, and the laundry scream up. Despite planning to work until 12:30 before lunch, you find an excuse to take a break early.
How to Avoid Distraction Doom
Devote yourself to a separate home office for 9-5 office hours. It will surely help. Also, make sure you eliminate distractions from your workspace area. With no TV or books around, you are less likely to turn to them during work hours.
Noise-canceling headphones can cut down auditory distractions, such as your kids playing or your spouse watching your favorite show. Woahh!!
Set rules with your family members not to disturb you while you’re remote working. Tell them to behave as though you are not at home!
A Little Less Supervision & Direction
No matter how angelic or demonic we imagine our bosses to be – but BOSS is BOSS!! They play a very important role that includes providing direction and supervision. They not only tell you what you need to do, but they give you honest feedback as well.
When you work from home, you tend to get less of it in terms of supervision and direction. Your boss (or clients, as the case may be) typically doesn’t give you much guidance and support that many remote employees desperately yearn for.
How to Avoid Directionless Doom
If you work for an employer, keep communicating with your supervisor. Ask him which projects you should prioritize and when he expects you to hit a particular milestone.
At least once each week, connect with him to discuss your progress, your challenges, and any ideas to overcome those challenges in a real-time manner.
Triumph Up & Above Communication-Coordination Disorders
It’s hard to manage productive in-person meetings to coordinate different team members amid remote work culture. When everyone works remotely, it becomes harder to stay in sync with one another.
Modern age professionals rely on non-verbal communication. But emails, phone calls, and even video calls remove much of the hassle from how we communicate. Just think back to the last time someone misinterpreted an email or text message you inboxed.
This problem lies deep in the roots of virtual businesses that an entire industry has taken a pledge to resolve.
How to Avoid Communication Doom
As a boss or supervisor- schedule weekly phone or videoconference meetings with your team members. Keep tabs on each team member’s progress toward their previously agreed-upon deliverables and goals. At the end of each session, set new deliverables and objectives to be followed. Ask each responsible team member to repeat these back to make sure they understand them.
Team members should confirm their priorities and tasks with their boss or supervisor and colleagues before setting off to get it done.
For daily communication, use a project management and collaboration tool to keep track of all communications and ensure all team members are on the same page while using the same platform. These make way for tracked communication threads between two or more people, assignments, file sharing, private messages, replacing email for more consolidated quick communication with no lost messages, spam, or drafts.
Unclear Performance Metrics
Have you ever thought about it? By what parameters does your boss — even if that’s you — weigh your job performance?
Mediocre managers often fail to track clear metrics for the job done by their team members. In extreme cases, supervisors keep an eye on how long their workers physically sit at their workstations.
When workers telecommute, managers can’t see if they’re physically at their desks or not.
None of that works well with telecommuting. Managers and workers alike need to get crystal clear on precisely what constitutes success for an individual team member. Regardless of their position, every employee should have at least one key performance indicator (KPI) that reflects how well they’re doing their work.
For customer service reps, for instance, these KPIs would include customer feedback ratings to indicate the quality of their work and the total number of customers served to indicate the quantity.
How to Avoid Performance Measurement Doom
If you manage a team, think about effective ways to measure each of your direct reports’ performances. If you work for a company, ask your manager: “On what parameters you are going to judge my performance, what metrics will you use to monitor my performance, and what are your expectations?”
If your manager doesn’t provide a clear-cut answer, ask him to think about it and get back to you later. Without clear expectations and KPIs, neither you nor your employer can know or decide about how well or not-so-well you perform. And without that knowledge, your job security becomes a matter of whim since you’ll never know what went wrong.
Remote work with a lot of benefits, from avoiding the rush to reach the office on time to a more flexible WFH scene- coming with the freedom to be able to live and work from anywhere. But don’t believe the hype — it still requires you to work, and with every advantage comes a challenge.
That simmers ahead for workers whose industries haven’t widely adopted virtual business models but were forced to do so due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
Without the rigid structure imposed by a traditional workplace, you need to create your own virtual structure and follow up. If you want to carry on with the freedom to work from anywhere, be prepared for it as a whole.
Read More: Working From Home Tips To Help Employees