Avoiding the Most Common Remote Work Pitfalls
If you’ve convinced your boss to let you work remotely or you’ve landed a remote job, you’re going to have to prove yourself. The stereotype of a remote worker can be that of a pajama-clad, napping, distracted slacker. So you’re going to need to fight that impression from the get-go.
According to one study, 82% of remote workers experienced lower stress levels. Remote workers also have a lower carbon footprint and reduced commuting costs. But there are also plenty of remote work pitfalls. To fully embrace your new life, check out the ways our 100%-remote team ensures success.
1. Communicate More Often Than You Think You Should
Your rule of thumb should be to check in, converse with someone, or participate in an initiative at least once a day. On an at-least weekly basis, you should also send a summary of your progress, blockers, and questions to your boss or team lead. It may feel excessive to constantly log what you’re doing but, since you’re no longer sitting a few seats away from your coworkers, keeping track will help you advocate for yourself if there’s ever a question about your productivity.
Your manager has a million things going on, and likely more than one person to manage. Making it as easy as possible for them to see how you’re performing is part of your job. It also makes it easier to pinpoint problems and hear constructive criticism before any issue snowballs.
2. Separate Your Living and Working Spaces
When you work remotely, you can work from anywhere. But that doesn’t mean you should work from anywhere. Some people prefer to roam with their laptops from couch to bed to loveseat to desk. Though if you can, set up an actual working space, where you can concentrate, make phone calls, and find all of your office supplies.
If everywhere in your house fulfills the role of “workspace,” it can be difficult to switch off and recharge. If you have a favorite cafe, library, or corner of your house that’s a designated workspace, you’ll create some natural boundaries that will reduce your stress levels.
3. Keep Regular Work Hours
Working remotely does not always mean relaxing, taking long breaks, and visiting the grocery store on a Tuesday at 11 AM. In fact, remote work can facilitate chronic overworking patterns. When you don’t physically see your colleagues logging off and going home you never get those external reminders that your workday is over. You might also live in fear that you’re not doing enough, or should be doing more, or that everyone is working harder than you.
That’s why, for your own sanity, you should maintain regular work hours. They don’t need to be 9 to 5. Maybe you’re a morning person or a true night owl. Whatever the case, give yourself a deadline for switching off for the day. Try to aim for about a 40-hour workweek. And don’t worry – there will always be more work tomorrow!
4. Test Your Optimal Work Patterns
One of the joys of working remotely can be testing out your optimal way to work. While office life confines you to a regular business day, 5 days a week, you might find that you work best on weekends, when no one is bothering you with Slack messages and emails. You might find that you prefer to work from super early in the morning until lunchtime, or maybe you prefer sleeping in and then working later into the night.
It’s up to you to test your optimal work patterns, so feel free to experiment. Test ways to improve your concentration. Try out productivity techniques like the Pomodoro timer or the 1-3-5 to-do list (or of course, Toggl’s time-tracker). You may surprise yourself with how you end up optimizing your productivity.
5. Don’t Neglect Your Physical Health
Aches and pains from sitting in a cramped position with your laptop on your lap can be one of the major remote work pitfalls. Carpal tunnel syndrome looms just around the corner if you don’t take regular physical breaks.
Drink water. Wash your hands and face. Set aside time for regular exercise, even if it’s just a walk. Spend a few minutes stretching your limbs and muscles. See a doctor annually, just for a check-up. And (this one is very important) take a break from screens every once in a while, to rest your eyes and prevent headaches. You may even start to come around to that regular yoga practice you’ve been avoiding. Your mental energy levels are dependent on your physical energy levels, so make sure you’re taking care of your holistic self.
6. Get to Know Your Team
Isolation is another one of the most common remote work pitfalls. Why not get to know your team a little bit better? Set up video calls and have a virtual coffee, or even embark on a small side project. If you have extra time, try to pitch in and help someone who seems overworked at the moment. Just because you’re remote doesn’t mean you can’t have work friends.
While remote work certainly offers you flexibility and freedom, if you’re not careful you can experience burnout or isolation. The tools that will help you involve communication, physical and mental self-care, and camaraderie.