The Challenges of Working From Home

Many people have made the shift to working from home in recent months. Some people have been working from home for years now and are used to it. For those who aren’t used to it, working from home can present some challenges. Here are some of the biggest challenges you could face when working from home – and how to overcome them.

1. Avoiding Distractions

The main challenge of working from home is managing distractions. Interruptions can come from anywhere – from a delivery at the door to pets, family, and friends that demand your attention. Keep these distractions at bay with “Do Not Disturb” signs, keeping doors closed, and making sure everyone knows when you’re working.

Your priorities at work are pretty well-defined – you are at work to, well, work. The priorities at home are a bit different. Being at home means having fun, cooking and cleaning, watching TV, and doing anything else not related to work.

These priorities get confused when you bring your work home with you. Some people feel that they could combine the two, but it’s better to create a routine. Get up and get dressed and stick to regular working as much as you can.

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2. Collaborating with Others

It can be more challenging to collaborate with others when you don’t share an office with them. There are lots of tools to help with that, though, such as Zoom and Slack. The reason that there are so many different tools is that each one is flawed in places, and none of them can completely replicate the power of face-to-face interactions. There’s plenty of chances for miscommunication with written messages in particular.

Much like it’s best to go across the office and talk to someone personally, it’s better to give them a video call and try to have a real conversation with them.

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3. Loneliness

Working from home can get lonely, especially if you are used to being in a busy office. Connectivity can help to combat loneliness. Managers should watch out for the traps of micro-management, but they also need to understand the softer elements of managing a team and creating an office environment.

Using the appropriate tool to communicate with others will help a lot with loneliness. It takes more time to deal with someone in a video chat, but creating an individual connection like that helps to combat isolation.

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4. Motivation

It’s easier to stay motivated in a group setting in an office. You can see what everyone else is doing, which motivates you to keep working yourself. Setting daily goals can help you to concentrate on your tasks at home. There’s no getting around the fact that some jobs are too dull to stay focused on. If you are having trouble keeping motivated and you can’t focus on the end result, then it’s going to be harder to keep yourself motivated – especially if you are concerned about outside issues such as the economy or how coronavirus is spreading.

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5. Switching Off

Some people who work from home report having trouble switching off. This could be caused by the novelty of working from home, such as being able to check the sales data whenever you want to. Another reason people have trouble switching off is that they are stressed out and need something else to focus on. This is another issue that won’t be helped much by creating a routine. Managers should encourage employees to stop working at an appropriate time and be careful of artificially lengthening the workday themselves.

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Final Thoughts

Working remotely is likely to become the new norm for a lot of people. It’s better to understand the challenges – and work on overcoming them – sooner rather than later. Not everyone will return to the office when all this is over. Even those planning on returning to the office won’t know for sure when that will be.

Jason Acker

Project manager for a multinational in the energy sector. Being a remote worker fits in perfectly with my home and family life. I still pay PAYE so I have all the same rights as the office based staff

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