5 Challenges of Working Remotely and Ways to Tackle Them

5 Challenges of Working Remotely and Ways to Tackle Them

More companies are incorporating flex time and integrating digital nomads into their workforce. This trend is especially true for the software industry.

Nevertheless, working remotely poses some challenges as well; I know this first hand. I then turned to one of my favorite Slack communities, Women In Tech. We discussed the challenges of working remotely as well as ways to overcome them.

Here’s what we came up with.

As reported by Global Workplace Analytics, telecommuting, also known as remote work, has grown 103% since 2005, with a 6.5% increase in 2014 alone!

Some even project that 50% of people will work remotely by 2020.

Many companies such as Mozilla, Zapier, and InVision are comprised of teams who do most of their work outside the office. A stable internet connection and headsets are really all you need in order to work from anywhere.

Challenge #1: Bonding with Your Team

When you work in an office next to your teammates, some bonding is bound to happen. More than likely you’ll spend time every day talking about each other’s personal lives and sharing about topics as well. Getting to know each other on a personal level definitely increases the level of trust and rapport of a team. Unfortunately, this is something that is harder to achieve when working remotely.

With a remote team, opportunities to bond on a personal level with teammates won’t just present themselves. You have to make them happen.

Challenge #2: Getting Feedback

When working remotely, feedback is not immediate; in many cases you don’t get any at all.
Without feedback you may feel uncertain about your performance. You may not know what you’re doing right or in which areas you need to improve.

Challenge #3: Time Zone Differences

This comment really stood out when we discussed this particular challenge, “If you work in a different time zone it makes it a bit problematic. You submit a PR and would like to discuss it right away, but you can’t do it because the other person already finished her day.”

If the time difference is two hours or less, it’s not too big of a deal. The real problem starts when your workday doesn’t overlap much with your coworkers; or it’s out of sync with theirs. In such cases communicating in real-time is rarely achieved.

Disconnecting can also be challenging in this situation, especially when you see that your teammates are still working.

Challenge #4: Focusing and Avoiding Distractions

When working from home it can be tempting to watch Netflix or read a book when you should be working. There’s no one there to tell you you shouldn’t. You have to be very self-directed and disciplined.

For people with kids and family who stay at home it can be tricky to focus solely on working. Constant interruptions and urgent chores can prevent you from being as productive as you would like to be. Also, finding a quiet place to take calls and have meetings can be quite challenging.

Challenge #5: Separating personal time from work

This challenge is completely the opposite from the one above. When working remotely there is no rigid schedule, so you might find yourself working from dusk till dawn if you’re not careful.

Disconnecting can be tough, but not doing so can lead to burnout.

Benefits of Working Remotely

We already explored some of the many challenges of working remotely, but it’s also important to mention its pros. Here are a few that were mentioned during my chat with the gals,

Flexible schedule.

  • No dress code (aka, working in your pajamas).
  • Having total control over your work environment.
  • You don’t have to be limited by geography— you can travel as long as you have WiFi.
  • Being able to live anywhere!
  • Avoiding long commutes to the office.
  • More time with family and pets. Perfect for people with babies and children.
  • Choice of workspace: home, coffee shops, outdoors, coworking spaces.
  • Great for people with chronic illness and other special needs.

Tools

Remote work can be less challenging when you use the right tools. Here are the ones the gals in Women in Tech recommended:

There are lots of useful tools out there for distributed teams, it’s just a matter of trying them out and deciding which ones work best for your team. For instance, at my company most teams use Google Hangouts for video calls and Skype to chat, but my team uses Slack for the latter.

We also use Confluence to keep the documentation of our projects and PlanningWith.Cards to make estimates.

Ready to Tackle the Challenges of Working Remotely?

Here’s a list of sites dedicated to posting remote job offers,

Let me know what other challenges you’ve faced when working remotely. Also, please share the tools you use to stay connected.

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