Despite the numerous advantages associated with the practice, it is perfectly common to experience problems working from home. After all, it is unlikely you designed your home with work in mind and even if you did, you may not have access to all of the equipment and comforts you might find in a professional working environment, such as an office. However, it is also important to know that there are solutions.
Read on to learn more about some of the most common problems people run into when adapting to remote work or read How to Optimize Productivity with Remote Work.
Modern technology has helped to facilitate remote work and it can offer many benefits, but it is equally important to highlight the problems working from home can throw up. After all, for most people, the concept is still relatively new and it stands to reason that there are pitfalls to avoid and potential difficulties in making the adjustment.
Fortunately, in the majority of cases, the pitfalls can be avoided, and steps can be taken to mitigate some of the disadvantages associated with remote work. Five of the most common issues linked to work from home arrangements are outlined below. Understanding these problems and their solutions can be vital for telecommuting success.
1. Finding the Right Work/Life Balance
One of the most common problems working from home can lead to is difficulty in striking the right work/life balance. Achieving some level of separation between your personal and professional life is important for stress reduction, as well as your all-round emotional well-being, but telecommuting can potentially shatter this divide.
Furthermore, the flexibility that working from home offers can lead to problems. For instance, you may find that you no longer have strict working hours, which can make it easy to procrastinate or drag tasks out. This can then lead to you working later than you normally would, giving you less time to relax.
The solution here revolves around self-discipline. You should try to establish a clear divide between the hours where you will work and the hours where you will do other things. There may be some essential crossover at times, but to the greatest extent possible, you should create a distinction between work hours and non-work hours.
2. Keeping Away from Distractions
When it comes to learning how to work from home, successful adaptation involves learning to avoid distractions in your home. These may include your television, video games consoles, or even household chores. Moreover, you may find that you spend a considerable amount of time on your phone or computer, browsing websites that are not work-related.
With that said, your home can also help you to get away from distractions that are associated with office life, like colleagues coming over for a chat. What this means is, if you can avoid the distractions in your home, you may find that you actually get more work done when working from home than you would when going into a physical workplace.
The key to avoiding distractions is identifying the things that are likely to keep you away from work and then cutting off easy access to them. If your games console is a distraction and it is in your bedroom, make sure you work away from your bedroom. Turn your TV off and make a rule that you only casually browse the internet during set break times.
3. Adapting to a Lack of Social Interaction
Another problem you may experience when making the move to working from home is a relative lack of social interaction. After all, you will not be physically present in the same place as your co-workers. It is also surprisingly easy to become isolated because work can over-flow into the time you would normally use for socializing.
To some extent, the communication you would normally have with other people in the workplace can be replicated through technological solutions, such as telephone calls, video chats, emails, video conferencing, and text messages. Make sure you look presentable and take an active role in these activities, so you are still communicating with people.
Additionally, you can reduce the psychological impact by ensuring you maintain a healthy social life away from work. To do this, you will need to make sure you are finishing work on time. You can also use your scheduled breaks during work hours for things like shopping, making phone calls to friends, and interacting with anyone else in your home.
4. Avoiding Becoming Too Sedentary
Generally speaking, there is a natural element of movement that comes from working in an office or similar workplace. After all, you have to travel to and from work, you will need to move around the office, you will leave your desk to go on your break and you may leave the building entirely for lunch. One of the biggest problems working from home can lead to is a lack of movement, resulting in you developing a sedentary lifestyle.
Research published in the Korean Journal of Family Medicine shows that a lack of movement during the day can lead to serious health problems, including a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.
With this particular problem, however, awareness is half of the battle. Once you grasp the problem, it can largely be solved by making a conscious effort to do something about it. Once every hour, take a minute or two to move around, away from your workstation and make an effort to get some exercise several times a week after work too.
5. Overcoming Any Physical Discomfort
Finally, it is possible you may encounter some physical discomfort while working from home and this is usually because of the lack of ergonomic design associated with many home working spaces, especially when compared to a professional office. You might, for example, fall into the habit of using a laptop while sitting on your sofa, or even while in bed.
If you spend several hours every day sitting at awkward angles, typing on a computer, you may find that you experience problems ranging from back or neck aches, through to repetitive strain injuries in your wrists. On top of this, you may find that you are also more prone to problems like eye strain from staring at a screen all day.
In terms of solutions, investing in a high-quality desk and chair, and sitting at an appropriate height and angle can help with repetitive strain and back issues, while the various monitors designed to reduce eye strain on the market also have a possible role to play, including curved screen monitors and monitors with built-in blue light filters.
Working remotely can be advantageous, but it is imperative that you understand some of the problems working from home can create too, and take action to limit any potential negative effects. The five topics covered in this article are among the most common difficulties remote workers encounter, but all five also have potential solutions.
In many cases, the problems people struggle with during periods of working from home can be resolved once a level of awareness is obtained. From there, it becomes much easier to take proactive steps to fix an issue.
If you have had issues with ergonomics at your home office be sure to read Basic Ergonomics When Working from Home or if you wish to get a comprehensive overview of working from home check out How to Work from Home: A 2020 Guide to Remote Work.