Whether we wanted it or not, this year has taught us how to work from home. With that being said, working from home does not come without its problems and difficulties. From increased screen time to time management struggles, there are several problems working from home has created. So, if you face some of these same difficulties, know you're not alone!
One apparent issue with employees working from home is workplace communication. It can be much easier for some to communicate in a physical office environment than in a remote setting. One solution to break down the communication barrier and keep everyone on the same page is to hold regular video meetings with remote employees. Consider using video meetings to screen prospective job candidates and meet at least weekly via video with remote workers. Not only do these video meetings help make remote work more effective, but they can also help build trust and foster a positive environment.
-Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance
One of the exciting challenges we face while working from home is feeling like everything happens on a screen. Team huddles, one-on-ones, quick chats, client meetings, and work being done all take place through a two-dimensional screen. We miss out on nonverbal clues and energy from being in person, face to face. The increased screen time feels more draining at the end of the day, let alone the impact on your eyes and brain. As a team, we talk about stepping away, taking mental breaks, and getting out in nature when possible.
-Jenn Christie, Markitors
Gallup studies have consistently shown that finding satisfaction in work is a struggle. Throw in working remotely, and employees may combat feelings of loneliness and distractions at home to add to the challenge of finding happiness at work. To find happiness, try focusing on simple things like walking before working and keeping a tidy workspace. Doing things like this can help better define the line between work and home—each little thing about the workday matters and contributes to workplace happiness. Find what works for you, and share it with your team.
-Ryan Nouis, TruPath
Cyril Parkinson noted in his 1955 essay in The Economist that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." While the pandemic freed office workers from their daily commutes, many soon discovered that working from home meant always working. Once our familiar bookends disappeared, time suddenly seemed without boundaries, and so it expanded, bleeding into every waking moment. Seasoned remote workers understood what was happening to their colleagues and offered simple yet sage advice: guard your mornings and unplug when the day is done. Tomorrow's challenges will come…commute or not.
-Tim Toterhi, Plotline Leadership
Conflict exists in every workplace environment. Whether you're a small business or a large company, teams of people will always have issues that need to be addressed. Typical issues may be meeting project deadlines, problematic clients, or simply working effectively as a team. That's why a project manager may be a solution to resolve remote workplace conflicts. By designating a project manager, a company can become better equipped to find solutions and maintain high levels of happiness among its employees.
-Henry Babichenko, DD, Eurodenture
I've been working from home long before it was popular, and I can tell you that you can be highly productive when away from the politics and pressures of an office. However, you can also lose creativity. When you don't have the energy of a group to bounce and build ideas off of, you lose something. It's like making decisions in a vacuum which can be done, but often the best ideas come from collaboration, and Zoom isn't conducive to the creative environment.
-Lorraine Bossé-Smith, Concept One LLC
Studies showed that people showed signs of actual psychological distress after the SARS quarantine, and the highest reason was a sense of isolation. So those quick "Hey, how are you going? Are you okay?" calls can go a long way. You can also use this time to spend working on your networks. Are you connected to everybody you need to be on LinkedIn? LinkedIn is such a great platform at the moment, and you can make sure that you're building those corporate networks. If you're feeling lonely, if you're feeling isolated, please reach out to a friend.
-Ineke McMahon, Path To Promotion
While a flexible work policy has many benefits, it also poses challenges to keeping employees connected and engaged— essential factors in creating a respectful, productive work environment. The casual feel of working from home can lead people to say or do things on email, chat, or video conferencing that they wouldn't normally do when working onsite. And working remotely can make employees feel isolated from coworkers and reluctant to raise questions and concerns. Remote work training helps employees maintain respectful and inclusive behavior while working offsite and provides managers with tips and practices for supervising remote employees.
-Andrew Rawson, Traliant
One problem with working from home is not getting enough exercise. When I used to work at an office, I would walk out to the metro, stand for about 15 minutes, walk to the office building, and take the stairs up. I would get more exercise throughout the day, too, like walking out for lunch and sometimes going to yoga after the day was done. Now, working from home, I get much fewer of these "default steps" in. I have to be much more deliberate about it. I've started walking around the block in the morning as one way to boost my exercise, and this process also helps orient me toward productive work time.
-Melissa Kelly, Virtual Team Building
A common problem when transitioning to a home-based office is the lack of focus resulting from a sudden absence of accountability and structure. As a result, it's easier to get distracted by social media and other time-wasters, and the day is over before you know it. This problem can be avoided by planning out your days in advance, batching tasks, and using project management and goal-tracking tools [a couple of my favorites are Trello and Strides].
-Chloe Brittain, Opal Transcription Services
Running a remote team has presented a set of challenges that I've had yet to face when managing a business. Something that does, and absolutely should, keep me up at night is whether my workers are experiencing burnout. Obviously, companies have had to make a massive shift to adjust to these unusual circumstances in the past year. Are you overworking your employees or expecting too much? Motivation is difficult to latch onto when you feel burnt out at your workplace, and motivation is the glue that keeps employees going while working remotely.
-Chris Vaughn, Saucey