Christopher Clint, Backend Developer
With the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, many companies have shifted to remote work in order to continue their operations. While many would think of this as temporary, the whole situation has opened doors for opportunities and possibilities making remote work a viable option to a lot of companies moving forward.
Whether in our own home or mobile, we get to see the benefits of working remotely. There is more freedom and better control of time allowing more flexibility and amount of work hours and thus increasing productivity. This is just but one example from a long list of perks of remote work. Working from home may sound easy to some but it’s not always a rosy picture being in this kind of environment.
Here are some things you need to consider and watch out for in a remote work setup:
Since our homes are not designed specifically for work, a lot of factors come in that will hinder us from becoming effective. Things that provide comfort in our homes are ironically the very things that decrease productivity. House chores, pets, neighbors, people you live with.. there are distractions everywhere.
What you can do to work around this problem is to dedicate a certain place in your home just for work. Treat it as your office. This will establish a barrier between you and the distractions around you.
Getting in to work requires only so much effort that coming out of it becomes really difficult, if not impossible. People who are hardworking and love what they do will find it really hard to disconnect. Because work is so accessible more than ever before, other priorities are oftentimes forgotten or even neglected. The idea of “life outside of work” becomes vague and seems to be somewhat ineffectual or even pointless. This is perhaps one of the most damaging aspects of working from home. It is really hard to detect as it is developed subconsciously. You can think of it as a process of forming a habit and combining that together with good results like some promotion will make individuals think they’re doing perfectly well. When left unaddressed, this imbalance can result in serious health problems.
While it brings a lot of advantages to have easier access to work, it is still very important to establish a clear separation between life and work. Things start to get out of hand when you start to merge these two things together and it requires a certain level of awareness to see it.
Awareness in this area can be increased by monitoring the time spent for both life and work. Once the imbalance is clear, changes can be gradually applied to correct it. Increase the activity in the area where you think you’re failing. Be open about it, to others and more especially to yourself. Talk about it with your partner, your family, or your friends. More often than not, this issue spirals out of control because some people just find it insignificant.
Difficulty in Communication and Collaboration
A factor seen to increase performance is that of collaboration. The ability to work well with others allows individuals to provide tangible impact and effective contributions to the team and company. A very crucial component necessary for collaboration to happen is communication; be it verbal or written, it boils down to how to how effectively individuals relay information. In a remote setup, however, situations are more often presented in a somewhat unprecedented way.
When you speak with someone, there will be times that you won’t get as much feedback or response. Somehow, people seem to be afraid or shy to raise questions — a situation that gives you mixed signals. One part of your brain tells you that they understood, the other tells you that the silence is a manifestation of confusion. Let alone the technical difficulties that happen consistently such as power shortage and internet connection problems.
To communicate effectively, individuals must be really clear about what they really want to gain in a conversation. When things are not clear, ask questions. When a solution is hardly derived, give suggestions. Dealing with crucial conversations is one great way of eliminating false assumptions across the team.
These are a few of the prevailing challenges in remote-first companies. The efforts to address these issues require effort from both, employee and employer. Cohesion is achieved when the right foundations are built among individuals and throughout the company. So if you think your company can do more to address some of these challenges, raise your concerns to ensure maximum productivity and collaboration thereby creating a better remote work environment!