Seen less as a perk and increasingly more as a savvy business decision, companies around the world are embracing remote work options.
- Sixty percent of teleworkers surveyed worldwide said they would leave their existing job for a similar job at the same pay rate if they could work from home full-time. (Source: 2015 PGi Global Telework Survey)
- Sixty-eight percent of millennials entering the workforce said an option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in an employer. (Source: AfterCollege)
- Eighty percent of the U.S. workforce say they would like to telework at least par- time. Two to three days a week seems to be the sweet spot that allows for a balance of focused work, which happens at home, and collaborative work, which takes place in the office. (Source: Global Workplace Analytics)
However, workers still face challenges when working outside of a traditional office.
Three remote workers share their challenges and how they overcame them.
Remote Work Challenge No. 1: Proving Productivity
Arestia Rosenberg is a freelance creative director, writer, and content strategist.
She is also a filmmaker and a for-hire script reader.
She started working remotely six months ago when she joined Remote Year.
As a remote professional, it’s been difficult for Arestia’s clients to understand she works just as effectively remotely versus working in an office.
In fact, she says, she feels even more creative while working remotely.
To combat the stereotype of remote workers putting in less time, Arestia stays in constant communication with clients, regardless of the time zone she currently works and lives in.
I always make sure to be available every day to my clients, regardless of time zones. I stay in constant contact with clients via email, and write about my experiences on Medium and LinkedIn to continue exposure.
Remote Work Challenge No. 2: Maintaining Focus
Matt Aunger has worked part-time as a remote freelancer for 10 years, and he made the jump into full-time remote work in August 2015.
Right now, he’s working on the marketing engineering side of things for a European startup.
Matt said his biggest challenge when working remotely is focus.
My attention is naturally drawn to new, exciting ideas, and I can often stray down a rabbit hole. So staying focused on the task at hand has been a huge learning curve for me.
Matt said he started noticing his focus slipping more and more as a result of going remote.
He attributes the shift to being in charge of his own time, and to having almost too much freedom to go along with many distractions.
As a result, he ends up losing focus on the task in front of him.
His solution to solving this issue came in preparing mentally for the problems and tasks ahead using concepts laid out in How to be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson.
It completely changed the approach I was taking to life. The most effective idea in the book for me was allocating the minimum amount of time to tasks and setting realistic deadlines.
Remote Work Challenge No. 3: Ending Your Day
His biggest challenge is working too much, especially when he’s working across multiple time zones.
I find myself working 12 hours sometimes, because there is no clock or colleagues around. I’m getting better with the schedule now. I tend to split my workday into blocks to accommodate multiple time zones.
Communication professionals who are working remotely can overcome these three challenges by using online tools and experimenting with new daily habits.
- Proving productivity. Try incorporating collaborative platforms such as Slack, Trello, or Google Drive into your work day. These tools offer transparency about your work activity without much additional effort.
- Maintaining focus. Consider viewing your day as a series of goals, not a block of eight hours. Apps such as Harvest and Focus Booster are a lifesaver when it comes to tracking your time. Using these tools, you can see which tasks take you longer to complete compared to others. You can also try starting the day like I do—I use the 5 Minute Journal to jot down three things that would make my day a great one. Then I think back to my list throughout the day to be sure I’m on track!
- Ending your day. Stick to a set schedule that covers the time zones of your clients or team. This might mean a block of time from 7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. and another from 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Use an email scheduling tool such as Boomerang to schedule emails to arrive in the recipient’s workday.
What challenges have you faced when working remotely?
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