With somewhere around 10% of US workers laboring at least one day a week from the comfort of their own homes, it’s easy to see that working remotely is becoming a more commonplace practice in today’s world than it was years ago. It’s important to recognize the challenges of working remotely and understand how to overcome them if one wishes to succeed at working from home.
There are three major problems that can come up when working from home: distraction, loneliness, and separation of “home” life with “work” life.
Problem 1: It’s easy to get distracted
Being able to sit at your own desk with your own computer can be great, but it is so easy to get distracted. It only takes a second to open up Facebook or Twitter and get lost in the most recent updates. If you do some kind of research for your job, for some people, it’s very easy to get sidetracked mid-project as well.
The solution: Start your day a little earlier and spend some time checking up on your social media accounts, news websites, and all the other webpages you frequent before it’s time to clock in and, if you can, take breaks to punch out and check them again if you really feel like you need to be connected. If you’re really tempted to try to check things during the workday, try downloading Google Chrome, create a profile that you use solely for work purposes and block websites on that profile that you typically want to check when you’re punched in.
Problem 2: It gets lonely/boring working by yourself all the time
Working from home is great if you’re typically an introvert by nature and you want to avoid all the gossip around the water cooler that can be seen in so many workplaces, but there will inevitably come a time when you sit down at your desk and think, “Man, it sure would be nice to have someone next to me to talk to now and then.” Humans are social creatures by nature and we crave interaction.
The solution:Stay connected with your co-workers through email or even some kind of chat program. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation now and then. “How’s your day going?” or “Is there anything I can help you with?” can go a long way in starting a conversation with a co-worker. If you’ve got some time, ask your co-workers to join you over video, through something like Skype or Google Hangouts, to just check in and talk about how things are going, both in work and in your personal lives. Not only will it make you feel a little less lonely while you work, but you could get to know some great friends as well.
Problem 3: It’s more difficult to leave work “at work”
When you punch in and out at an office, you know exactly when your day starts and exactly when it ends. The biggest problem with working at home is that the line between “work” and “home” is often blurred. You’re technically always at work because you never really left in the first place.
The solution: Set aside one set space, like a home office, where you will only do work. When you’re sitting in that space, don’t allow yourself to get distracted by anything else, and when you aren’t working, don’t spend time in that space. Also, set clear boundaries for yourself, so if you say that you will punch out at 6pm, make sure you’re punching out right at 6pm. Don’t check your email or answer any work calls after you’ve punched out. It’s okay if they wait until tomorrow.
Working from home is both a privilege and a responsibility and it’s up to the remote workers to figure out the best way that they can be the most productive and efficient at what they do.