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The results of Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2018 Report have revealed (not-so-surprisingly) that remote work is here to stay. Ninety percent of remote workers that participated in the study shared that they plan on working remotely for the rest of their careers, with 94 percent encouraging other workers to follow their lead.
The benefits that come with working remotely are plentiful. Flexible scheduling allows for greater work/life balance, and the work environment can be tailored to your personal preferences, thus increasing overall productivity. Participants surveyed also noted that working from home keeps them out of office politics and allows them to travel.
In spite of these benefits, remote work still comes with its own set of challenges that telecommuting entrepreneurs struggle to remedy. Let’s take a closer look at the biggest ones profiled in the survey and what can be done to help fix these situations.
This factor tied with communication at 21 percent. It’s an understandable struggle, too. You can take a FaceTime call every day, message your co-workers through Slack hourly, and still feel slightly removed from the in-house team. There may be days when you wish you were at startup headquarters to celebrate someone’s birthday or to brainstorm with a coworker in-person instead of waiting for them to reply to your emails and messages. It’s difficult to come up with a solution to this issue because loneliness is not something that can be easily fixed. The answer isn’t always found in constant engagement, either. The best thing to do when remote workers feel lonely is to talk to your supervisor and co-workers about it. Open up a conversation and seek out solutions to make it easier with your team’s help.
If you work in the same city as other remote workers, look into the possibility of meeting up together on a regular basis. Managers should work to create a culture of inclusion wherever possible, too. You may want to send out a “good morning!” email every morning to your department and encourage everyone to respond with what they’re working on for the day, sharing any questions, thoughts or ideas they have.
Collaborating and communicating
As I mentioned earlier, this one tied with loneliness on Buffer’s report. Collaboration and communication are difficult enough to maintain in an office environment, let alone as a remote entrepreneur. You might spend more time playing email or phone tag than you’d like with your boss. You might even work in a different time zone, making it more difficult to get someone’s attention, as you start work just as they’re wrapping up for the day.
No matter what your circumstance looks like, if you’re struggling to communicate with your team, be sure to address the issue as soon as possible. Maybe your boss doesn’t answer his or her emails quickly and lets them pile up for a few days. You may want to pursue an alternative avenue, like messaging him or her on Slack or through text instead. Talk it over so you know a little more about his or her preferred communication style and make sure he or she understands your own preferred method. This will allow you to comfortably reach each other and collaborate more efficiently.
Distractions at home
Seventy eight percent of the remote workers surveyed by Buffer work from home, rather than a coworking space or coffee shop. One of the perks to working out of your own home is the ability to make the space an inviting one. Didn’t like the uncomfortable desk chairs, poor lighting, or crammed space on-site? You can buy comfortable chairs, install better lighting and open up your home office to be one where you feel inspired and invigorated.
Even though you’ve set the mood to be productive, distractions at home still happen. Sometimes it comes in the form of getting lost in a Google rabbit hole search, other times it’s noisy construction outside. Whenever this happens, it’s best to shake things up and head to another location.
You might then choose to go to a coworking space, a coffee shop or a library. Alert your team where you’ll be heading with some advance notice, in the event that you need to be present for a last-minute dial-in call, and make sure the space you’re heading to has WiFi and outlets to charge your electronics.
Once you’ve arrived, get back to work! The purpose of moving locations, after all, is to cut back on distractions and stay on task. Make sure that the space you’ve chosen to work out of is convenient and reliable — chances are, you might be returning as a regular soon enough.