Some of the challenges of home-working are obvious, some less so. Here are a few of the obstacles and banana skins you might not have considered, and our tips on how to deal with them.
You wouldn’t think that staying at home all day would be physically demanding. But working from home can take its toll if you don’t do it properly. These three things are vital:
No, not that type, that’s way beyond our remit. We’re talking about people’s tendency to worry more about their performance when they’re working from home. In the office, it’s plain to see that you’re at your desk working (supposedly!), but if you’re remote and you don’t meet the deadline, will people assume you’ve been skiving?
The best way to avoid this by keeping your team updated with what you’re working on. Using simple daily check-ins are really useful for this. They make your plan visible to your team, making sure they’re aware of what you’re doing and helping you to show what you’ve done each day and to make sure that your work gets recognised.
If you live with friends or family, it can be tough to get them to leave you in peace during your working hours. Young kids hate it when they don’t have your full attention and, secretly, your partner does too. While they’ll say ‘it’ll only take you a second’, frequent distractions will lose you more time than you realise throughout the day. In fact, one study claimed that we take such a long time to refocus on a task that the average distraction costs us 23 minutes!
To keep you on track amidst potential deviations, it’s wise to have some kind of to-do list. Scribbled bullet points on the back of an envelope still work for some people, but if you’re working in a team you’ll probably want a tool such as Know Your Team to help you stay focused on your goals for that day.
With instant messaging apps such as Slack so heavily used, you might want to manage your notifications to avoid feeling you’re too connected to your colleagues. But if you’re working remotely long-term, don’t overlook the importance of virtual ‘chit-chat’. It helps build good relationships between co-workers and is important for team morale. Who knows, you might find it easier to ask a work favour from that guy in finance if you already commented on the cute dog photo he posted in the company chat.
So, as with so many things in life and work, it’s a question of balance. Too much time instant-gossiping and searching for the right emoji and you’ll fail to meet your targets, but take all the fun out of your communication habits and you’ll start to lose that human connection.
So, you worked out how to add one of those funny zoom backgrounds that make it look like you’re underwater? Fair enough, it’s probably better than sitting in front of a pile of strategically placed books you’ve never actually read. But even once you’ve got your background sorted, video calls can be a tricky beast. Here are a few pro tips.
Of course, there are plenty more challenges to be overcome when working remotely that we haven’t mentioned. Such as sticking to your agreed hours and keeping a healthy work-life balance. But as it happens, I’m working from home right now and I’m done for the day, so… bye and good luck!