The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many new challenges to our professional and personal lives. Employees around the world are in a crisis, as businesses are suddenly distant.
Since the majority of the global workforce is not used to working from home, this sudden change has led to many problems. They are adjusting their seats to meet their organisational needs amidst everything that is happening around the world. Until now, remote working was seen more as a perk or luxury that companies provided to meet the needs of the employees and vice versa. But now, it has taken centre stage in our work culture.
If you introspect, you will realise that nothing much has changed in terms of work (for those whom work from home is feasible). Employees doing their jobs from their homes have accepted the realities. But this sudden shift in work culture has brought some new challenges with it.
Let us discuss the five significant challenges of working from home, and how to overcome them.
1. Flow of communication
When you work from home, transparency is compromised. You no longer have the freedom to go and check with your co-workers, discuss a project over impromptu coffee breaks, or have in-person or group meetings. Communication is one of the most critical aspects of a work culture. It keeps every team member updated and helps maintain a healthy workflow.
For managers, it becomes difficult to keep everyone on the same page. It is pretty challenging to put everything together when communication is compromised.
How to overcome: To keep everyone on the same page, conducting regular team meetings is crucial. Video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, and chat tools, such as Slack can help bridge the communication gap between team members and build cognitive and emotional trust. Also, to maintain a workflow among team members, a project-management system, such as Asana or Trello is a great option.
2. Distractions at work
Although it provides flexibility, work from home can bring with it a lot of distractions — the hustle and bustle of a household, a television playing in the background or kids sneaking around. Even constant notifications on your phone can distract you and affect your work from home productivity. It becomes difficult to work efficiently in a personal setting. Your household chores keep calling you, and you need to set a mental alarm to put everything in place.
How to overcome: First and foremost, keep your priorities intact. Put your workstation in a distraction-free space with little or no noise if possible. Create a to-do list to meet your personal and professional goals. Do not overlap them.
3. Lack of motivation
Working in isolation is challenging. The office work environment gives acknowledgment, which is rewarding and motivating. When you work from home, you have to function on your intrinsic motivation. The engagement level, thus, can degrade if employees’ needs are not taken care of. Lack of motivation not only affects work but also has a detrimental impact on mental health.
How to overcome: To boost employee motivation and keep them engaged, you may have to take a slightly different approach for your remote employees.
Keep the communication thread going with your team. Provide discounted or free online courses for them to develop their skills and expertise. Offer them tips for mental health or maybe have a group chat session every week, where everyone can put forward their concerns.
4. Technology hiccups
You do not have your office administrator to fix your systems or internet connection when you are working from home. That becomes an added responsibility. Many public WiFi hotspots can also be spotty. It is painful when you do not have a fast and stable connection. Also, video conferencing tools are not always reliable and can often leave you frustrated in a meeting.
How to overcome: For your peace of mind and to avoid delays in your work, always have a back-up plan. Keep a spare laptop for emergencies. Don’t rely on a single communication tool. When your WiFi hotspot is unstable, you can always rely on your mobile data connection.
5. Work-life balance
Working from home removes the traditional method of functioning; you no longer make the commute for work or finish your daily task at a definite period. You become more aware of the needs and duties that you have at your home. Managing kids or doing household chores also adds to your priority list. To balance everything effectively can be a tricky job and a time-consuming one.
How to overcome: Keep your priorities straight. One of the crucial aspects here is time management. Divide your work, both personal and professional. Have specific timings to finish your tasks. Do not procrastinate and complete the most vital work during your most productive hours and track your progress.
Despite the above challenges, working from home can be very rewarding. It gives you enough flexibility and time to keep you going.