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Problems of working remotely

Created by Will Ceolin
Created on Apr 27, 20 - Updated on May 29, 20

We already saw the benefits of working remotely, but there are some problems. Let's discuss them in this lesson.

Onboarding

Onboarding remotely can be challenging. There's so much you need to learn about a company that doing so remotely might become really exhausting (e.g. having tons of calls to get to know everyone). It also involves lots of self-learning to get through the whole company's documentation.

Loneliness

Remote work can feel lonely sometimes, especially in a scenario where 40% of adults already feel lonely. This problem is worse if you're coming from a traditional office environment. Some things you or your company might consider to minimize this issue:

  • Arrange a coworking space: if you're an employer, consider having an "office budget" which your employees can use to set up their own office or rent office space).
  • Informal communications: create a channel for informal communication where your employees can share fun things, memes, talk about personal stuff, hobbies, etc.
  • Social calls: organize online calls where you can gather together and talk about stuff (non-work related).

Communication

If you're coming from a traditional organization, communication might be a huge challenge when transitioning to a remote company. Asynchronous communication is great, but it requires a different set of skills.

Make sure everything is written down to avoid the feeling of being left out when something is being discussed without you. Also, be patient. Not everyone has the same communication skills and background. It might be harder for some people to express themselves in written communication. Make them feel comfortable and be supportive when they say something that's not clear.

Context switch

Some people find hard to "switch context", especially when they're working from home. By going to an office, they have a clear distinction of when it's time to work and when it's time for leisure.

Make sure you or your employees aren't overworking. If you've been working for too many hours in a row, take a break. Maybe get back to it tomorrow.

If you're an employer, don't assume your employees will work 100% of the time. Remote work is about flexibility. Maybe they're picking up their kids at school or going to the doctor. Just trust they'll do their best work when they're available. Don't try to spy on them or pressure them to be always available for you.

Also, beware of burnout. When working remotely, it's easy to work longer hours. Make sure you tell your employees to avoid that but remember: Preventing a culture of burnout starts at the top.

Kids

Besides "context switch", if you're working from home you might have to deal with your kids too. It's awesome to spend more time with them but they also bring lots of distractions to your workplace.

If you have kids, it might be easier for you to find a quiet room for working or looking for a coworking space. If you're an employer, make sure you offer an "office budget" to your employees. This way, they can afford to have a productive office space.

Distractions

Remote work requires lots of discipline. You need to learn how to manage your own time. Master procrastinators might have a hard time doing it:

Self-motivated people can deal with this issue much butter. That's why many companies like to hire managers of one when working remotely:

Someone who comes up with their own goals and executes them. They don’t need a heavy direction. They don’t need daily check-ins. They do what a manager would do — set the tone, assign items, determine what needs to get done, etc. — but they do it by themselves and for themselves.

If you'd like to work remotely, practice your discipline, self-motivation, and organization skills. Being pro-active is a must.

Different timezones

Remote work gives your company the freedom and flexibility to hire people from anywhere in the world. But that comes with a problem: timezones. This is trickier when a company has lots of meetings as someone has to compromise by working earlier or later.

However, beware of meetings. They should be a last resort when working remotely. When you switch to asynchronous communication, different timezones become a much smaller problem.

Bureaucracy

Each country has different tax, immigration, and labor laws. Compliance is a huge challenge when hiring remotely. Some companies end up hiring people as contractors, but that's bad for their employees as they don't have many benefits they would have from a traditional company. Fortunately, there are companies working on that problem.