Remote work has its benefits: No commute, low-stress level, setting your own working hours, spending more time with family, and more.
Plus, you work without shoes on. 🙂
But, remote working is not all rainbows and smiles., it also has its challenges.
Here’s the List of Remote Work Challenges
- Lack of Work Structure
- Prioritizing works
- Unplugging after work
- Dealing with distractions
- Effectively managing your time and projects
- Building and Maintaining Trust
- Lack of Personal Growth Feeling
- Time zone differences
According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report, remote workers struggle with unplugging from their work, loneliness, and communicating.
In this article, we’ll discuss ten common challenges of working remotely and tips on how to overcome them.
10 Common Remote Work Challenges (+Solutions)
Challenge #1: Isolation
Let’s face it: You may feel isolated when your home suddenly becomes your office.
In offices, you shape your creative muscles by arguing, discussing, high-five, and celebrating together.
Or do non-work activities like playing TT, grab a coffee, or go out for lunch with your colleagues. These activities can help develop a strong relationships between coworkers.
When you go remote, you don’t have these luxuries. And you focus your time on “work” rather than relationship building, and you often feel isolated and disconnected from coworkers.
The Solution: Use tools to make a human connection with teams
Today, companies focus on building a positive remote team culture because a company knows that personal bonds formed between team members actually give their company a competitive edge.
Here are some activities and tools that you can use to foster a positive connection with your teams:
Virtual quizzes: Use tools such as Trivia to create virtual quizzes and play with teams.
Play fun games with the team: Tools like Go Game, The Escape Game, and Scavify let you play amazing games and offer virtual team-building experiences for remote teams.
Movie night: Use tools such as Netflix Party to watch a movie with your team.
Challenge #2: Lack of Work Structure
One of the biggest challenges of remote working is the lack of work structure. With different deadlines, colleagues, tasks, communication styles, and priorities, keeping everything on track and running the entire process smoothly often feels like a battle. You need clear objectives to be productive, but structuring the work is tricky.
The Solution: Use the help of technology
For some, working from home is a huge adjustment. Empathize with your colleagues and be patient as everyone settles in.
Check-in with your team and employee from time to time with clear and flexible agendas. Ask your remote employees to reach out to you if there’s any confusion. You can also check on their schedule and deliverables, especially if there are any changes. There are even solutions for real-time collaboration which means your team can instantly see and comment on any changes made by members.
Here are some ways:
Organizing notes and ideas: Tools such as Evernote and Ideakeep for organizing important notes and ideas (and share these with your remote team).
Challenge #3: Burnout
One of the biggest shifts for remote work was actually the lines between work, and non-work are blurring. And employees who are working remotely for the first time are likely to struggle to preserve healthy boundaries between their professional and personal lives.
So, what can you do to manage your stress while working remotely?
The Solution: Time-blocking
The key is balance. Give yourself enough time during the day to walk away from your computer screen and phone. Move around, play with your kids, take a step back, and don’t forget to clock out at the end of your shift.
Create a fun lineup of songs if listening to music while working is your jam. Share it with your colleagues, too, to share the vibe.
Challenge #4: Prioritizing works
One of the oldest remote working struggles is knowing how to prioritize your work. With more jobs to do, non-stop emails, and higher expectations, it can be overwhelming to decide what deserves your attention.
When priorities are piling up, you need a transparent system in place to take you from overwhelmed to under control.
So, how can you prioritize your tasks and time?
The Solution: Plan your tasks and time
Get ready like you’re going to the office. Set your alarm, take a bath, and wear nice clothes. Plan your day while making yourself a good cup of coffee too. This helps prepare your mind and body for a productive day of working.
Before you start, list down your priorities for the day. Set pockets of time to complete your tasks and make sure you stick to your schedule.
Here are some ways to plan and manage tasks:
Challenge #5: Unplugging after work
For most remote workers, this is the worst of all the challenges associated with remote working. A typical office worker checks out at 6 or 7 PM, drives home to his or her family, and spends the evening doing some leisure activity.
But while working from home, it’s difficult to unplug. The struggle is real.
According to a Remote.co survey, unplugging after work hours is the biggest challenge remote workers face in their working lives.
What’s the solution?
The Solution: Set your working schedule (and stick to it)
Start and end work on time to establish the boundary between work life and home life. Managers of remote workers need to really encourage their teams to develop healthy boundaries between home and office.
Decide your working hours and inform your manager and team. Here are some more ideas:
Challenge #6: Dealing with distractions
Distractions at home were the 4th most common challenge reported in Buffer’s 2022 State of Remote Working report. It’s a productivity killer that can turn remote working into a nightmare and compromise team progress.
You may get an unexpected visitor, or your family could have unrealistic expectations of what you can do while working from home. It can reduce your productivity.
So, what’s the solution?
The Solution: Set up your home office
Working from home all of a sudden can be a major adjustment. Coordinate with your spouse, children, or a roommate on work schedules and designate chores equally.
Having a space in the house purely for work can help you get into the right mindset. Working in leisure spaces like the bedroom or the couch can hamper productivity because the brain associates it with sleep or rest.
Here are some more ideas:
Activate “Do Not Disturb mode” in Slack: Do you need to focus on a task? Activate Slack’s Do Not Disturb feature. When you turn on the DND mode, Slack stops sending you notifications.
Challenge #7: Effectively managing your time and projects
Working from home means that you’ll have to manage your own time and be responsible for meeting project deadlines without reminders from coworkers.
So, what’s the solution?
The Solution: Time management and project management tools
Here are some ideas and tools:
Calendar tools to keep things on track: When’s a good time to sit down with the team and discuss the project? Use tools such as Google Calendar, Calendly, and Workato for scheduling meetings and reviewing important milestones.
Challenge #8: Building and maintaining trust
Many virtual teams face challenges while building and maintaining trust among remote employees, which affects performance and productivity.
In some cases, team members may have never met each other personally, which subconsciously affects trust between them.
What can you do to avoid it?
There are some solutions to build and maintain trust across your entire team.
The Solution: Take the help of remote team-building tools
A study found that employees at high-trust companies are 106% more energetic at work. Here are some tips that remote team can implement to build trust among employees:
Virtual Coffee: Virtual coffee helps you recreate that coffee culture irrespective of geography. Trivia’s virtual coffee can help in fostering meaningful connections.
Avoid Micromanagement: People behave differently when teams are expected to take ownership of the work and build trust. Don’t do micromanagement.
Create shared goals: When employees have shared goals, they show interest in working together, helping each other, and covering each other’s backs.
Functional remote work policy: You must create a functional remote work policy which provides structure and direction. Your policy should include information related to the working hours, accepted behavior, company values, the use of collaboration tools, etc.
Challenge #9: Lack of Personal Growth Feeling
Without normal office interactions, it’s easy to lose a bit of motivation and confidence. If your team only focuses on completing tasks each day, they may not feel as if they’re making growth or developing new skills, which is the opposite of what you want as a manager.
The Solution: Do one-on-one meetings and run pulse surveys
Here are two solutions to overcome the above challenges:
Virtual one-on-one meetings: You can schedule monthly one-on-one meetings to discuss employees’ personal and professional development. Help them if they want to join any training or development programs.
Not sure what to discuss during these meetings? Check out this library of 200 one-on-one meeting questions and see where they lead:
Pulse surveys: Send personalized or group pulse surveys for your remote team to get involved, respond, and let their opinion know. Collect feedback and identify areas for improvement.
Challenge #10: Time Zone Differences
In a remote work environment, team members may be spread across different time zones, leading to challenges in scheduling meetings, collaboration, and timely communication.
The Solution: Flexible working hours
Allow team members to have flexible working hours within certain boundaries. This can accommodate different time zones and enable individuals to work when they are most productive.
Overlap Hours: Identify and establish “overlap hours” where all team members are expected to be available for real-time collaboration. This may involve adjusting work hours for some team members to align with the majority.
Transparent Communication: Encourage transparent communication regarding working hours. Team members should communicate their availability and non-working hours to ensure everyone is aware of potential delays in responses.
Use Time Zone Tools: Implement time zone tools or features in project management and communication platforms. This helps in automatically displaying the local time of each team member, making it easier to schedule meetings.
Recorded Meetings: Record important meetings and share the recordings. This allows team members who couldn’t attend the live session to catch up at a more suitable time.
Common challenges faced by remote workers include issues related to communication, collaboration, work-life balance, feelings of isolation, and technology/connectivity issues.
Here are some ideas:
– Use the right tools
– Create to-do lists
– Regular one-on-ones
– Time blocking and management
– Good health habits
– Set your working hours
– Make your workspace distraction-free
Discover amazing ways to improve employee engagement. All these tips are easy to implement.
Remote work comes with a wide variety of benefits, but it can also be a challenge if you don’t set healthy work-life boundaries.
Overcome communication challenges by using various communication channels, scheduling regular check-ins, utilizing video conferencing tools, and setting clear expectations for responsiveness.
Address time zone differences by establishing overlap hours for team collaboration, using time zone tools, rotating meeting times, and promoting asynchronous communication when possible.
Effective onboarding for remote employees includes providing comprehensive training, assigning mentors or buddies, leveraging onboarding platforms, and facilitating virtual meet-and-greet sessions.
Now it’s your turn!
We’ve discussed the ten most common remote work challenges in this article and solutions to overcome them.
What challenges do you face while working remotely (and what do you do to overcome these?
Originally published July 8, 2020 4:48 PM, updated Jan 22 2024