By Blair Williams, founder of MemberPress, an all-in-one membership website software for WordPress.
Before 2020, remote working was still a growing trend that was a long way off from gaining full acceptance. But today, it’s commonplace and there are businesses making a full transition to working remotely for good.
One of the most alluring aspects of remote work is the notion that you don’t have to leave home to do your job. The assumption is that it would mean less stress, more free time and a better social life. However, this hasn’t turned out to be true for everyone. Remote working comes with its own stressors and if you aren’t aware of them, they can overwhelm you.
Let’s take a look at the top stressors that might affect you as you work within the confines of your home, along with some tips for dealing with them.
Lack Of Time Management
While you may not have to set alarms in the morning and can work right from your bed, you may find that you’re busier than before if you haven’t planned your day.
One common occurrence is to find yourself working later than ever because your household chores and work tasks start to bleed into each other. As much as people dislike heading to the office, the truth is that a separate environment allows you to focus on your tasks and reduce stress. But there is an answer to the problem of mixing up your home tasks with work ones.
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Plan your day.
I know it’s unappealing to have to organize your time as it removes the feeling of being carefree. But once you get work done on time and delineate your home work from your job tasks, you’ll feel better. It’s only by scheduling your tasks that you can sustain working from home and maintaining peace of mind in the long run.
Time-blocking is an effective way to manage your time. Unlike a to-do list, you add time frames to create specific blocks of time for each task. And in this way, you can reach different goals without scattering your focus.
Less Accountability Leads To Lower Performance
For solopreneurs, the only person they have to be accountable to is themselves. But many employees also find that they have less supervision and interaction because their company is still figuring out how to manage remote work.
In such cases, be more mindful that you’re not being less productive than usual. And if you are, you can create accountability for yourself by using the right tools.
Try a note-taking app, a project management tool or just create a handwritten to-do list on a notepad. Set clear goals and mark them when you’re done. In this way, you create self-accountability and can track the work you’re doing, building motivation along the way.
Dealing With Distractions
One of the nicer things about working in an office is that the environment is geared toward making work happen. At home, you face distractions that simply don’t come up at work.
In some cases, you need to communicate with your family to create a separate space for yourself and a time where you can’t be approached. If you’re distracted because you’re on social media or are watching a show, then self-discipline needs to come into play. In these cases, time-blocking comes in handy.
It’s also a good idea to share your work schedule with other people in your home and clearly mark times when you’re on a call and can’t be disturbed. An added benefit is that when there’s a clear time for personal and work activities, it reduces the urge to waste time.
One of the commonly stated reasons against remote working is that it’s impossible to communicate effectively when you aren’t in the same room with your team. However, in my work and in my partner’s business, that simply isn’t true. In the case of my business partner, he’s run a 100% remote business from the very beginning, spanning a decade.
It’s possible to coordinate product development, HR matters, content marketing tasks and everything else entirely online. What makes this work is using the right tools and setting clear expectations.
When it comes to tools, you need:
• Video conferencing tools to convey important information directly and to put faces to names to help the team connect.
• A chat messaging tool for work since email lacks the real-time communication offered by chat platforms.
• Project management tools where each person can use a calendar, a to-do list or some other feature that suits you. And where supervisors can monitor and add information wherever needed.
• Task-based tools like helpdesk apps for customer support, premium cloud storage tools, collaboration tools for coding and more.
The next important factor is to have crystal clear KPIs. We use simple spreadsheets and have clear goals that a person needs to meet. And every week, people add the actual number they’ve hit.
When communication is structured and enabled in this way, it reduces stress and uncertainty. Even when you’re working alone away from your team, you’re still aware of what’s happening.
There are other stressors that I can add to this list, like a lack of motivation, having a disrupted social life and more. But if the bigger stressors mentioned above are handled well, then smaller stressors may start to disappear too. Along with making sure that your work is taking place effectively, you also need to have a vibrant personal life.
And when you do get your job done, manage your time well and achieve your goals, you automatically free time up for personal pursuits. You can exercise, spend time with loved ones, pursue your hobbies and in this way, make remote working sustainable.