Remote Work

Downsides of Working Remotely (and How to Overcome Them)

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July 28, 2020
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Working remotely has many perks- the freedom to work whenever you want, or spend more time with your children or family. However, it's not always sunshine and rainbows- you need to jump through several hoops to ensure you are on top of your game at all times. As Deel is a fully remote company, we experience both sides first-hand. We took some of the often overlooked downsides and offered ways to surpass them.

Remote work can get lonely

Since you are working remotely, you are probably miles away from your colleagues. You don't get to take lunch breaks together or have quick chats by the coffee machine. Sometimes it's not as easy to reach out to your colleagues and seek support. On the bright side, there are plenty of ways to fight this.

If you are a remote team manager, you probably understand the need for your team to feel connected. Here's what you can do:

  • Set up digital water-cooler or no-agenda team meetings
  • Have regular 1-1 check-ins with your team
  • Allocate a budget for co-working spaces
  • Foster supportive culture in any way you can
  • Set up a "random channel" on Slack for non-work related topics.

Not knowing when it's time to "finish for the day"

When you are working remotely, especially from home, you may find yourself spending more time working compared to the usual office hours. Moreover, when your team is in multiple timezones, there will always be messages and requests coming your way. No one, not even your manager, wants you to work endless hours and exhaust yourself.

Here's what you can do to maintain a healthy work-life balance:

  • Understand your productivity flow and work when you are most productive
  • Have a "wind-down" ritual to help you switch from work to personal time
  • Communicate your working hours to the rest of the team and stick to it
  • Once you finish working, don't go back online "just to check emails"

Being your own motivator can be tough

Not everyone can work remotely, and that's ok. One of the key competencies of a remote worker is being able to approach work proactively. You won't always have your manager telling you what to do. You will have the freedom to choose how you work, but you need to use it wisely. That's why planning is everything:

  • Organize your priorities every day and track progress constantly
  • Break down more complex projects into tasks that are easier to achieve
  • Create to-do lists and appreciate ever time you cross out something
  • Measure your outcomes, so you never feel you didn't accomplish much

You won't always see your team working, so trust is key

Your work will not always be visible to other people and vice versa. In a remote setting, it's not about how many hours you spent being online or working, but what you accomplished during that time. Your manager expects you to deliver what's on your plate in the assigned deadline. They don't care that much if you spent two or ten hours doing it, they trust that you are doing your best. To justify that trust, you should be as transparent as possible.

  • Set the goals right, so you can easily report on your work
  • Have frequent check-ins with your manager to go over your tasks
  • When it doubt, over-communicate. It's much better than being quiet and mysterious.
  • Be transparent as a team and as an individual

Not to be all pessimistic, the benefits of working remotely surpass the downsides. In this time and place, the majority of the workforce is entrepreneurial and not used to an office space. The idea of working remotely is quite attractive. It can be challenging but also very rewarding. If you set yourself up for success, you will soon realize there are many fun things that only remote workers understand.

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