Telecommuting, remote employment, working from home – whatever you call it, it’s gaining in popularity across all occupations.
However, working from home can hold some traps, particularly for beginners. Telecommuting comes with its own special challenges, such as isolation or the lack of proper workspace. With time, these obstacles typically lead to burnout, frustration, and low productivity.
How to avoid the most common pitfalls of working remotely? Is it even possible for remote employees to be productive and grow their careers? Don’t worry – here’s how to navigate these challenging waters:
Pitfall #1 – Overworking
A lot of managers don’t approve of working from home as they think that the lack of physical oversight leads to unproductiveness and slacking off.
However, the truth is often on the other side – telecommuters are more likely to overwork. When you’re mixing your job with your personal life, switching off can be a lot more challenging.
How to avoid overworking? First of all, make sure to create a dedicated office space. If you are not able to do this, even removing the laptop out of sight once you’re finished helps with the temptation of logging back on.
Secondly, be clear with your co-workers about when you’re done for the day. You could, for example, make a quick announcement on Skype and then turn off your laptop.
In addition, you could try forcing yourself to leave the home office by setting appointments on the calendar. Maybe it’s an “appointment” to take a walk, go grocery shopping, or hit the gym.
Pitfall #2 – Distractions
When you’re a remote employee, you don’t have to deal with in-office interruptions, such as having colleagues drop by your desk every now and then.
However, you’ll probably have to deal with different kinds of distractions. Things can get particularly challenging for those with kids. Children rarely understand why a parent can’t play with them if he or she is at home.
How to deal with interruptions when you’re a telecommuter? The most important thing you should do is set up some sort of a signal, whose purpose will be to let others know they shouldn’t disturb you. This can, for example, be a “do not disturb” doorknob sign.
If you’re a parent, explain to your kids why they shouldn’t interrupt you when you’re working. Tell them that having your concentration broken all the time will only make you unavailable for longer. Getting childcare is a must if your kids are really young.
Pitfall #3 – Lacking the Right Tools
The physical distance between you and your colleagues can be a major obstacle to task progress visibility and optimal team collaboration.
Therefore, it’s highly important that you determine what you need to stay productive. Get the software and equipment based on the job’s requirements.
Online collaboration platforms, training management software, cloud storage systems, and to-do apps can be of great help for telecommuters. By relying on the right tools, you’ll be able to work more efficiently and grow your career as a remote worker.
Moreover, make sure to always have a backup plan. Inconveniences such as Internet connection problems or power lapses can easily send your day into a tailspin. Create a plan B that will help you get the work done whenever there’s trouble.
Pitfall #4 – Bad Health Habits
When you’re working from home, slipping into bad habits is a lot easier.
For example, the fridge will always be only a few steps away from you. There’s also the opposite problem – without regular lunch breaks, you could easily forget to eat.
Exercise is another thing most remote employees tend not to care about. Furthermore, you may forget to go outside enough. All of these things are important – no matter how much work you have, your health should never take a backseat.
Investing in a comfortable, supportive chair is essential. Remote work is sedentary work – you don’t want to deal with backaches after spending hours in front of the computer screen.
Pitfall #5 – Isolation
Even with Internet access, it’s still very easy to feel lonely and isolated when you’re a remote employee.
People sharing offices interact with each other and often share meals and drinks after work. When you’re all alone in your office, things can look pretty bleak and depressing.
To take care of this issue, try including social breaks in your schedule. After working for a couple of hours, go outside and do something social, like having lunch with friends. Even talking to the person behind the counter can be revitalizing.
You could also try working at coffee shops from time to time. This will provide you with an opportunity to meet other telecommuters doing the same thing.
Despite these issues, working from home can be very rewarding – as long as you’re capable to handle these common pitfalls. Persevere, and you’ll be able to enjoy autonomy, flexibility, and perhaps even higher productivity while working from the comfort of your own home.
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.