7 Common Remote Work Challenges (and how to overcome them)

remote work tools ecosystem

Remote work has its benefits: No commute, low-stress level, setting your own working hours, spending more time with family, and more.

Plus, you work without shoes on. 🙂

Studies have found remote workers are more productive, healthier, and enjoy a more positive work-life balance.

But, remote working is not all rainbows and smiles., it also has its challenges.

According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report, remote workers struggle with unplugging from their work, loneliness, and communicating.

In this article, we’ll discuss seven common challenges of working remotely, and tips on how to overcome them.

7 Common Remote Work Challenges (+Solutions)

Challenge #1:  Isolation

Let’s face it: You may feel isolated when your home suddenly becomes your office.

In offices, you shape your creative muscles by arguing, discussing, high-five, and celebrating together. 

Or do non-work activities like playing TT, grab a coffee, or go out for lunch with your colleagues. These activities can help develop a strong relationship between coworkers. 

When you go remote, you don’t have these luxuries. And you focus your time on “work” rather than relationship building and you often feel isolated and disconnected from coworkers.

The Solution: Use tools to make a human connection with teams

Today, companies focus on building a positive remote team culture because a company knows that personal bonds formed between team members actually give their company a competitive edge.

Here are some activities and tools that you can use to foster a positive connection with your teams:

Team messaging tools: Use messaging tools such as Slack, MS Teams, and Zoom to say hello and check how people are doing. Share fun memes and stupid stories.

Virtual quizzes: Use tools such as Trivia and Kahoot to create virtual quizzes and play with teams.

Water cooler conversations: Use tools such as Houseparty and Jackfruit to create a video room for your team and have a random and fun conversation.

Play fun games with the team: Tools like Go Game, The Escape Game, and Scavify let you play amazing games and offer virtual team-building experiences for remote teams,

Team bonding tools: Tools such as Donut, Icebreakers, and Let’s Roam let you know your colleagues and form friendships.

Peer-to-peer recognition: Missing high-fives from your managers and colleagues? Tools such as Bonusly, Disco, Briq, and Kudos to give each other virtual credits to say “thanks” to one another.

Movie night: Use tools such as Netflix Party to watch a movie with your team.

Employee engagement tools: Employee engagement tools such as 15five, Assembly, and Culture Amp have a way to keep team members engaged and feel part of the same mission.

Challenge #2: Lack of Work Structure

 One of the biggest challenges of remote working is the lack of work structure. With different deadlines, colleagues, tasks, communication styles, and priorities, keeping everything on track and running the entire process smoothly often feels like a battle. You need clear objectives to be productive, but structuring the work is tricky.

The Solution: Regular one-to-one with clear and flexible agendas

For some, working from home is a huge adjustment. Empathize with your colleagues and be patient as everyone settles in.

Check-in with your team and employee from time to time with clear and flexible agendas. Ask your remote employees to reach out to you if there’s any confusion. You can also check on their schedule and deliverables, especially if there are any changes.

Here are some ways:

Organizing notes and ideas: Tools such as Evernote and Ideakeep for organizing important notes and ideas (and share these with your remote team).

Managing team goals: Tools such as I Done This and Weekdone  to define team goals and manage directions.

1-On-1 remote meeting: Use tools such as Zoom, Meet, and Slack for having a 1-on-1 meeting with an employee.

Standups: Tools such as Standups, Standuply, and Troopr will keep your teams in sync.

Digital Whiteboard for brainstorming: Virtual whiteboard tools like Meindmesiter, Ideaflow, and MURAL will bring your team together to brainstorm ideas.

Challenge #3: Burnout

One of the biggest shifts for remote work was actually the lines between work and non-work are blurring. And employees who are working remotely for the first time are likely to struggle to preserve healthy boundaries between their professional and personal lives.

So, what can you do to manage your stress while working remotely?

The Solution: Time-blocking

The key is balance. Give yourself enough time during the day to walk away from your computer screen and phone. Move around, play with your kids, take a step back, and don’t forget to clock out at the end of your shift.

Create a fun lineup of songs if listening to music while working is your jam. Share it with your colleagues too to share the vibe.

Listen to music to reduce stress level: Tools such as Brain.fm and Mooodify help you to improve focus, mood boost and sleep.

Meditate: Meditate with tools such as Calm and Sattva to relax and reduce anxiety and stress.

Stay healthy while working from home: Tools such as Daily Yoga, SWEAT, and PEERtrainer will keep you healthy while working from home.

Mental well-being: Mental health and wellness are REALLY important to give your hundred percent at work. Tools such as Ginger, Modern Health, and Headspace look after your mental well-being.

Challenge #4: Prioritizing works

One of the oldest remote working struggles is knowing how to prioritize your work. With more jobs to do, non-stop emails, and higher expectations, it can be overwhelming to decide what deserves your attention.

When priorities are piling up, you need a transparent system in place to take you from overwhelmed to under control. 

So, how can you prioritize your tasks and time?

The Solution: Plan your tasks and time

Get ready like you’re going to the office. Set your alarm, take a bath, and wear nice clothes. Plan your day while making yourself a good cup of coffee too. This helps prepare your mind and body for a productive day of working.

Before you start, list down your priorities for the day. Set pockets of time to complete your tasks and make sure you stick to your schedule.

Here are some ways to plan and manage tasks:

Create a to-do list: Plan your to-do list with tools such as Todoist, Any.do, Google Tasks. No matter where you are or what device you use

Save and share your important files on the cloud: Tools such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and OneDrive will store your files on the cloud, sync them across multiple devices, and share with teams.

Visualize your to-do list: Tools such as LeanKit, Kanban, Pipefy give you a visual view of what you have on your plate.

Manage your tasks on the to-do list: Create, assign, and manage tasks with tools such as Asana, Taskworld, SmartSheet, and nTaskmanager.

Challenge #5: Unplugging after work

For most remote workers, this is the worst of all the challenges associated with remote working.  A typical office worker checks out at 6 or 7 PM, drives home to his or her family, and spends the evening doing some leisure activity.

But while working from home, it’s difficult to unplug. The struggle is real. 

According to a Remote.co survey, unplugging after work hours is the biggest challenges remote workers face in their working lives.

What’s the solution?

The Solution: Set your working schedule (and stick to it)

Start and end work on time to establish the boundary between work life and home life. Managers of remote workers need to really encourage their teams to develop healthy boundaries between home and office.

Decide your working hours and inform your manager and team. Here are some more ideas:

Update status on your team collaboration tool: Team collaboration tools like Slack and MS Teams allows you to update your status regarding your availability. Set your working hours in your status.

Build a morning routine: A powerful morning routine will improve your productivity at work. Use tools such as STREAKS, Moodnotes, and Blinklist to structure your day.

Unwind after a stressful day: Use tools such as Smiling Mind, Personal Zen, Memento, and Daily Burn to unplug and relax after a long working day.

Challenge #6: Dealing with distractions

Distractions at home were the 4th most common challenges reports in Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Working report. It’s a productivity killer that can turn remote working into a nightmare and compromise team progress. 

You may get an unexpected visitor, or your family could have unrealistic expectations of what you can do while working from home. It can reduce your productivity.

So, what’s the solution?

The Solution: Set up your home office

Working from home all of a sudden can be a major adjustment. Coordinate with your spouse, children, or roommate on work schedules and designate chores equally.

Having a space in the house purely for work can help you get into the right mindset. Working in leisure spaces like the bedroom or the couch can hamper productivity because the brain associates it with sleep or rest.

Here are some more ideas:

Avoid distracting noises to increase your focus: Use tools such as Noisli and Krisp to avoid background noise and create a perfect environment to work.

Block websites that reduce your productivity: Website blocker tools such as Freedom, Limit, and WasteNoTime can help you overcome the temptation of distracting and increase your productivity.

Learning without compromising your work: Use tools such as Pocket and Email This to read your favorite articles or content (that you found online) later when you have time.

Activate “Do not Disturb mode” in Slack: Do you need to focus on a task? Activate Slack’s Do Not Disturb feature. When you turn on the DND mode, Slack stops sending you notifications.

Challenge #7: Effectively managing your time and projects

Working from home means that you’ll have to manage your own time and be responsible to meet project deadlines without reminders from coworkers.

So, what’s the solution?

The Solution: Time management and project management tools

Here are some ideas and tools:

Manage your projects and track the progress in real-time: Use project management tools such as Trello, Basecamp, Monday, Teamwork, Podio, and Wrike to manage and organize projects.

Use time management tools to track how you spend your time: Time management tools like Toggl, RescueTime, Doodle, Clockify, and When I Work allow you to track your time and maximize efficiency.

Calendar tools to keep things on track: When’s a good time to sit down with the team and discuss the project? Use tools such as Google Calendar, Calendly, and Workato for scheduling meetings and reviewing important milestones.

Screen sharing tools to collaborate with your team: Use tools such as CoScreen, Screen, and USE Together to control each others’ screen to get things done.

Now it’s your turn!

We’ve discussed the seven most common remote work challenges in this article and solutions to overcome them.

What challenges do you face while working remotely (and what do you do to overcome these?

Looking for remote working tools? Here are 100 best remote working tools.

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