Guest post by Chanty
When the new decade started, everyone went into it with high hopes. This was to be an era of change and triumphs. However, I don’t think any of us expected just how much change we were going to endure in the first few months after the turn of the year.
Due to unexpected issues related to public health, most companies have been given the choice of either going remote or closing down for who knows how long. That being the case, we decided to write up an article that will help you overcome some of the key issues you might face when making these decisions.
There are countless problems unique to remote workers, but we’re going to focus on some of the most common and annoying ones in this piece so that you can ease the transition to online collaboration by nipping them in the bud.
News by the Numbers
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of overcoming the most common remote work obstacles, let’s take a look at some key statistics that provide insight into the landscape. JD Edwards reported that remote workers tend to be 25% more productive than their office-bound counterparts.
This means that companies who adopt remote policies will see faster turnarounds and fewer manhours to pay for. Computer giant Dell also saved $12 million in 2014 due to the fact that 20% of their employees work remotely.
In addition to their eight-figure annual savings, they also managed to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 6,700 metric tons. A survey by Buffer showed that the overwhelming majority — 99%! — of respondents would like to work remotely.
The two biggest benefits that respondents cited are the flexible schedule and ability to do their job from anywhere. Spending time with family and staying home were also popular reasons why they wanted to go remote.
Lack of Tools
Not having the right tools when you make the move towards remote work can increase your difficulty tenfold. While we’re not going to go too in-depth into software solutions in this particular piece, there are a few must-haves that you need to integrate into your workflow immediately.
Start with the Google family of apps such as Docs, Sheets, Drive, and other similar tools. This will serve as the digital foundation that you can build on through the addition of other solutions. Next, find a great project management and team chat software combination.
We’d recommend Monday.com and Slack. Other popular options include Chanty, ProofHub, and ProProfs. Regardless of which software you end up using, make sure that you pick them based on your specific needs and the features that would be of most use to you.
When your office and your place of residence are one, it can be very hard to focus on the task at hand. The best way to minimize distractions is to have a signal that tells family members or spouses when you’re working.
Some of our WFH employees use “on-air” signs like the ones you’d see in a radio station so that everyone knows when they’re trying to be productive and get their tasks done. On a similar note, try to set up your workstation in an isolated spot of the house.
Whether it’s the basement, your bedroom, or even the garden, find somewhere that’s separate from the rest of the property. The living room is often the worst choice because it’s riddled with distractions and often a place of congregation for everyone in the home.
We can all agree that few things in life are more annoying than an ISP with poor reliability. When the signal drops in the middle of a work session, it can really disrupt your productivity and drain any motivation or momentum that may have been driving you through the task.
The easiest way to get around this is to proceed with caution when picking a provider. Look at online reviews to see which one has the best track record. Avoid locking yourself into a long-term plan until you’ve confirmed that the connection is up to par for remote work.
Asking neighbors can also be very useful since they live in the same area and can thus tell you just how good the coverage of a particular provider is in the context of your neighborhood. The time and effort spent will pay off when you get your hands on an ironclad connection.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you shouldn’t be sacrificing your wellbeing in the name of productivity. It’s great to get all your tasks done ahead of schedule, but you should still be able to take a break every now and then without feeling guilty.
Overworking yourself will lead to long-term problems that massively outweigh any short-term benefits you may have gotten by putting work over wellness. It’s important to note that watching YouTube shouldn’t count as a break.
While we can all agree that binging online videos is fun, it’s not a very good use of your time. Instead, try taking a walk to get some sunlight or going for a quick swim in your backyard pool. Anything that gets you moving and takes your mind away from the computer will work.
Another thing that you should consider when working remotely is the impact that it can have on your mental health. Those who do their job from the comfort of their own home get to reap benefits like spending extra time with loved ones and not having to commute to the office.
Still, no benefit comes without a tradeoff. The main tradeoff that remote workers face is the isolation that they could be subjected to. When you work at home, you won’t be leaving your house very often and interacting with other people.
One of the best ways to counteract this and prevent burnout would be to dedicate some free time to hang out with friends. Whether it’s in person or through video chats, taking an hour a week to catch up with some of your best buds can help you stay sane amidst piles of work.
You may also find your physical wellness being neglected if you spend most of your time at home. Fortunately, there are countless bodyweight exercises that you can do to stay fit even if you go through the majority of your week without leaving the house.
Whether it’s pushups, squats, or dips, try to do a few reps every hour during breaks. You don’t have to do 50 sets per day. As long as you’re using some of your time to focus on your health then that’s already a great start.
Fitness apps could also help you track your progress and try new workouts. The good news is that there’s no shortage of such apps in the iOS and Google Play stores. It may seem like a waste of time, but regular exercise can go a long way towards avoiding heart disease.
As you can see, getting past the problems that you may initially face when you go remote doesn’t have to be rocket science. All you really need to do is keep some principles in mind then find the simplest path towards applying them.
Don’t set yourself on fire just to keep your boss warm. We’re not saying you should slack off, but a big part of working from home is self-management — which is why you need to be your own best friend and do what’s best for your long-term health.
On the technological side of things, you’d be surprised how much of a difference solid WiFi and useful apps can make in your workflow. Find the tools that streamline your job and integrate them immediately. That’s all for now, but stay safe, healthy, and productive!
Author bio: Jake Lizarraga is a content writer who reviews software for the Chanty blog. The combination of humor and conciseness makes every piece of his a fun read. When he isn’t writing, Jake loves watching movies, practicing Muay Thai, and geeking out about the fact that Melissa Benoist now speaks Russian on CW’s Supergirl.