5 remote work challenges and how to overcome them

Humans are social beings, they generally thrive on social contact and interaction, it’s also essentially the bedrock of civilisation, as we know it. Therefore, when the pandemic crept up on us, there was reason for some apprehension as social distancing norms hovered into view and remote access changed from being just a dictionary term for geeks to becoming a part of Covid lexicon.

Sankar Pillai
May 19, 2021

Keeping the premise of humans thriving on social interaction in mind, the very nature of remote access therefore brings about its own set of challenges. Humans however are resourceful creatures and will, and have, found ways to circumvent just about each of these obstacles during Covid. Here we highlight 5 remote work challenges and how best to deal with them during the pandemic.

  1. Lack of human interaction

With 24/7 internet access and the wonders of YouTube and OTT channels ensuring digital entertainment just a click away, you might think remote access is probably not so bad after all, helping you fill in the gaps between project work with a bit of binge watching. However, going back to what we mentioned in the beginning of this article, there is that much your laptop or mobile phone can do to insulate you from the sense of isolation from friends, peers and office colleagues while staying at home for prolonged periods of time. In these instances, see if you can break the isolation bubble, without breaking social distancing rules of course. Probably, meet up with a friend or work colleague, not necessarily at your place but a nearby café, or just keep the chat lines open and face time your peers or work colleagues on Teams or other proprietary software. It’s critical that you keep the social interaction going.

  1. Making work a priority

You may feel that being in the outdoors, as in outside of your home and in office would be more distracting than being at home. However, the opposite could also be true while going into remote access mode, with more phone calls being placed to family members, relatives and friends than you could possibly imagine conducting from your office space. Then there’s the aforementioned binge watching of your favourite web series while being in danger of giving your project deadlines the miss. It’s all possible on a given work day during remote access, and scary too. There’s just one way to deal with it. Be honest to yourselves and learn to draw the line on when you need to set aside your me time while working from home and get back to concentrating and prioritising work. Time management here is key, draw up a weekly or daily schedule based on what drives you better and prioritise work tasks for the day before attacking them one at a time. Besides, having a schedule in place could possibly also afford you the me time you so badly crave.

  1. All work and no play…

Within the last year, as the pandemic raged, analysts and research bodies have deduced that remote access does not have people slacking off work, in fact the opposite is true with most office workers ending up being overproductive. Being at home helps avoid the hours lost in office commute and management is generally given to believe that their workers are just a phone call away and could be put to work on a project from the safety of one’s home while citing emergency deadlines. Office workers usually fall for this ruse, with the result that many staffers end up putting in more than the daily number of work hours on the job while working remotely. If being overworked therefore is the challenge, it can be circumvented. One way would be to set yourselves appointments of some kind at the end of the supposed work day so you have to tear yourselves away from work to meet prior personal commitments. Take regular breaks away from your computer or laptop as well so you don’t strain yourselves. Also ensure you clearly intimate your colleagues that you are logging off for the day and cannot be accessed for work during the rest of the evening or day depending on your shift.

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  1. Out of sight, out of mind

Communication is an essential trait of success at the workplace. Staying in touch with colleagues, the discussions, bonding and interaction all contribute towards making you feel you are part of a team. And all this could essentially be missing while you are holed up at home under remote access. Or not.

The thing with digital communication is it’s always on tap, but depending on what form of digital communication you choose to use, the sense of physical distance can be bridged or not as well. Face timing colleagues on a Teams call allows one to reduce physical distances to a great extent and also help avoid any form of miscommunication that could happen on an email, for example. Observing your colleague’s face as he or she makes a statement for instance will help you understand what’s going through their mind as opposed to an email that does not expose the raw human emotion or connect. Eventually, it all boils down to how much of importance you give to communicating with your colleagues. It’s a critical facet of corporate work culture and if you are an ambitious staffer, should be critical to you too.

  1. Be warned of the binge

It’s easy to court excess in terms of work and food habits when staying and working from home. As mentioned before, try to make clear demarcations on when your work day begins and ends while also trying to stay true to your job. When it comes to food and health, it’s just as easy to order in and make every other day a cheat day as you would be wolfing it all down in the close confines of home with none of your office colleagues being around to judge you. So stay away from the binge, maintain a workout regimen, and go for that evening stroll you never managed to get across to doing after that tiring commute back from office. Stay healthy while enjoying your me time.

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