In a workforce landscape that involves more remote working than ever before, chances are good that more and more working individuals will experience working remotely in some shape or form during their careers.
Working remotely is a significantly different experience in many aspects than working from a business or workplace location. The remote working experience lends itself to some lifestyles more naturally than others.
Regardless of whether remote working has been an easy transition or experience, aspects of remote working require care and intention to ensure its long-term productivity and sustainability.
Challenges of Working Remotely
The nature of working remotely can create a number of challenges that need to be mindfully addressed:
Higher Likelihood of Social Isolation
Remote working, by definition, limits or completely mitigates regular in-person proximity to team members or coworkers. This can be a hard adjustment for a person who enjoys in-person interaction or thrives in highly interpersonal roles.
Heightened Barriers to Productivity and Motivation
Studies haven’t conclusively proven that remote working has a comprehensive positive or negative effect on motivation or productivity. The reality is understandably nuanced and depends on many factors, including one’s personal preferences and working style.
But regardless of how well you intrinsically motivate yourself or operate in a more hands-off working environment, productivity and motivation take different intentionality and strategies to maintain when working remotely rather than working on-site.
The process of making decisions takes significant mental energy. Especially for those who operate in leadership capacities or who make a large number of decisions in their professional role. It’s important to acknowledge the finite capacity we have to make quality decisions.
Remote working can sometimes introduce more external (e.g. household, personal) decision-making demands on you that strain your capacity to do this in your profession.
Limited Connection Points with Coworkers/Teammates
Especially in highly collaborative roles or teams, remote working (and the tedium often involved in recreating necessary connection points via technology) can make necessary work interactions difficult.
Creating a Conducive Working Environment
For some individuals, remote working translates into more control over personal workspace and environment and allows for easy optimization. But for others, remote working means that a personal living space must also double as a professional environment. This comes with a host of challenges.
Limited areas (such as small apartments or shared rooms), roommates or family members, children that need interaction and care, and more contribute to making it difficult to maintaining a conducive working environment.
Strategies for Boosting Productivity as a Remote Worker
Being aware of the challenges remote working can create is half the battle. If you work remotely, use the list above as a checklist to consider areas of your working experience that could use improvement. Remote workers often might not realize how unnoticed challenges take a toll on their professional performance and experience.
If any of the challenges above are inhibiting your career, consider the following strategies for alleviating them:
Invest in Social Relationships
Some people are more naturally extroverted than others. If you work remotely and experience loneliness, depression, or lack of motivation in your work life, this could be effectively combated by increasing your social engagement in healthy interpersonal relationships.
Whether this looks like non-work hangouts with work colleagues or increasing your social time with friends or family, social engagement outside the workplace can enhance your experience within it.
Find Your Own Optimum Productivity Rhythms
Not everyone produces their best work in a 9-5 window. Remote working can often afford more professional flexibility and creates an opportunity to experiment with how and when you work most effectively.
Develop Your Decision-Making Skills
Decision-making is hard work. Developing strategies to optimize this process can help alleviate the stress it can cause and help you make better, more effective decisions. Engaging with decision processes when your mind is sharpest (often in the morning for many people), inviting input from relevant team members, and being willing to wait to make a decision until you are at your clearest and have the information you need can all help improve your decision-making game.
Build Links with Your Team
Developing connections with your coworkers can contribute meaningfully to not only your performance but theirs as well. Effort made to connect, both personally and professionally, with your team members does not go to waste and indicates intentionality, trust, and teamwork.
Prioritize your Workspace
It’s ok to put effort and even expenditure into making your professional space one that you enjoy and that promotes your productivity. Need a good desk or chair? Invest the time and money in making the space comfortable. Buy plants or decorations. Move to where you can see out a window.
Every individual’s remote workspace and routine looks different. By employing the tools and strategies above, you can help yourself achieve maximum productivity and enjoyment in your remote career.