How to navigate around remote work's roadblocks
How do you feel about remote work? Chances are, you've done it, or you are doing it, and it can be great, but it can turn into a drag in certain ways. It tends to be more a love/love than a love/hate relationship, still there are the little annoyances or obstacles that crop up. For many, the shift to remote work has been a totally positive experience. Increased flexibility, working from the comfort of home (and let's face it, trouser-free is the new black), no more commuting: there are a lot of advantages. However for others, the sudden switch to working from home has taken a fair bit of adjustment and tweaking, and for some very good reasons. For all of us, though, working from home throws up some very real challenges that people have had very little time to adjust to, and it has been a learning process for employees and employers alike.
Our main challenges with remote working
Don't know about you, but this is where we find ourselves stuck sometimes. It's worth having a think together about how we can all deal with these!
"I'll just... make another cup of tea, throw in a load of laundry, or have a look out the window, shall I? Is it time for a snack yet? It's definitely time to take the dog out / change the cat litter / possibly go out with the rubbish, phew."
Whether it's from being distracted by other people living in the same space, or construction work in the building next door, or just the distraction of having Netflix on demand, working from home can be difficult in terms of finding a focus and sticking to it. For many people the comforts of home are a lush benefit to working from home, but for others they only serve as a barrage of distraction stopping us getting work done. And they tend to be repetitive, that is, you won't find yourself doing just one of these little detours, it'll be a few, and then it'll be time to do them again, won't it?
It's been far too long for most of us since we've properly gone out. But even homebodies count on their coworkers in a way. And that's gone when you're remote working. Even if you Zoom or chat by telephone, it is absolutely not the same. Depending on how often people have opportunities to connect with other team members or co-workers, working remotely can be very disconnecting for some people. For those who thrive on social interactions, and meeting people in-person, working from home can be an often lonely and difficult experience.
And of course those roles which require a great deal of cooperation across teams and people can be difficult to do as productively when working remotely. It takes much more of an effort to stay connected virtually, as compared to in an office.
How's your juggling game? Many people thrive on the flexibility remote working provides them. But for others time management is a challenge when working from home. You have to set your own hours, you have to set your own schedule and make yourself keep to it, you have to understand that with flexibility still comes a responsibility to complete tasks and projects. For some, this self-control over their own time is a massive boost to their productivity and morale, but in others it can have an opposite effect.
Is it loud? Is it crowded? Is it an absolute disaster of a mess that you can't control (ie, flatmates)? Not everyone has the perfect at-home working environment. For those who share a living space with flatmates or other family members (especially children, let's face it, darlings but hopeless to work with) working from home can be challenging. Others don’t necessarily have the ability to dedicate themselves a space purely for work, and have to make do with makeshift arrangements. We see you!
What's the best way to improve remote working?
Talk to your manager or your top boss, first of all, if you haven't already. What can they do to help? Reach out. You might be surprised at what they can offer, even if it's only suggestions from their own experience. They do want maximum performance after all!
Both employers and employees can work together to solve some of the difficulties we talked about. For employers, it is important that they understand that staff working from home must have all the tools they need in order to do the job. This might mean arranging office furniture for them to use at home, upgrading their internet connection, or it might mean making sure someone touches bases with them every day, or as needed.
Employers do want to find ways to keep teams connected. Cooperating together successfully is even more crucial when not in the same location! That is part of their job as management, but workers can help them by explaining what's needed. Management already know that understanding how to maintain, and even boost productivity amongst employees working remotely, should be a major focus for them right now.
Employees can also do their part to ensure their working from home is a successful experience, especially long term. Establishing a daily working routine and schedule is important, removing distractions, and setting up an optimal working environment that works for them, is key to this success.
Co-living and remote working: the perfect pair-up, single or partnered
Co-living has always been a popular choice amongst remote workers, and no wonder: there are so many good reasons. At Vonder our private apartments are great for working from home. Do you need to set up your own in-home office? Our one-bedroom flats are ideal for remote-working singles, while our two-bedroom flats make the best working and living spaces for couples. Many of our flats contain fantastic spaces that can be converted into dedicated working areas, with the right furniture.
Co-living complexes that also include co-working spaces are even better suited for remote working. Co-working spaces offer all of the benefits of working from an office (the superb WIFI connection, the office furniture, the coffee machine, the social interactions with others), along with all of the benefits of working from home: no need to commute, the flexibility to come and go as you wish, the more relaxed working environment. Co-working spaces are a win-win when it comes to remote working.
Co-living is all about connection and community. With its communal spaces, and community events, there are plenty of ways for remote workers to connect with others without needing to go to an office each day.
Co-living is one way in which the challenges of remote working can be overcome, in the long term. As how we work changes, how we live demands a similar rethink.