Since 2005 the number of people who are working from home has drastically increased by 140%. This number is now even more in our newfound world of social distancing. Earlier it was a choice or an option but post this apocalyptic era I assume this how the world will function or at least will prepare itself to embrace Work from home if required.
This is not new and is in practice since the dawn of the century. This concept in its early days was adopted by some startups to manage resources and reduce costs. Since it showed great results the same concept was even accepted by some of the corporate but only on a conditional basis.
Work from home has many advantages for both individuals and companies. It allows flexible work hours, an uninterrupted environment, avoids commute and makes the home food available right next to your room. For an organization, it helps to save infrastructure costs and allows them to manage resources efficiently.
There are many advantages but both the organization and employees have to go through some set of challenges challenges from working at home. In this blog, we will discuss how to overcome these challenges.
Here are the Top 9 challenges of Work from Home:-
- Inability to Find the Right Balance
- Unable to Prioritize Work
- Difficult to Manage the Time-zone and Cultural Difference
- Lack of Communication
- Poor Internet Connection
- Unable to Socialize
- Not Caring for Health
- Unwanted Distractions
- Difficult to Train Employees
Inability to Find the Right Balance
Some of you are working from home for a very long time while many of you just exposed to this very recently. The first thing is to keep in mind is that you have to maintain the work-life balance.
It’s a known fact that most of the people who work from home lose track of time, they start working more hours than usual and in turn spend less time with their family and damage their schedule.
On the other hand, some of the people are in procrastination mode and that eventually results in delays and backlogs of some projects, this not only impacts you but it also impacts your subordinates who are dependent on your work and eventually creates a cascading effect across the organization.
Both these extremes are very important to be avoided at any cost. To do so there are some inbuilt desktop and mobile applications that will help you to maintain time and on top of that, you should be disciplined as well.
You can create a regular event in your mobile app that will alert you religiously to follow time and start working only when it goes off. Create alarms at regular intervals for small breaks as this will make sure that you are aware of time and it also helps you relax.
Use calendars like outlook calendars or Google calender's to create a schedule for projects and to overcome procrastination.
When a human being creates a time-bound activity and is regularly reminded of the things that have to be accomplished, it helps them to manage time better and these apps just do that.
A balanced life is a must as it helps to focus on your personal life and boost your professional life.
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. “ - Dolly Parton
Unable to Prioritize Work
We often find folks who have multiple deliverables and as a result, they have to juggle a lot. They usually have to multitask. Such scenarios lead an individual to mess things up at one point. A situation like these has to be managed well not only in work from home setup but also when someone works on the company premises.
Assign the importance of the deliverables by consulting all the stakeholders, then assign the priority based on the requirement. The range of priority should vary from highest to lowest. If this practice is inculcated then you could manage your work efficiently.
You can use apps like Zoho, Trello or Jira to manage projects and prioritize their importance for your team.
“The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.” - Brandon Sanderson
Difficult to Manage the Time-zone and Cultural Difference
Challenges from working from home is that one of you would have colleagues on the other side of the continent or on a different continent altogether. Working with colleagues who are from different countries or continents gives you exposure to their culture and philosophy. While some people are good at establishing rapport but some are not as it’s not inherent in their nature.
But to work in a company where the job needs collaboration requires some kind of connection, adjustment, and understanding. To have that you must take initiative and discuss your professional work with each other over a call via zoom or Microsoft Teams. Learn what has been accomplished by other individuals, check for any dependencies and share your opinions.
Overtime know each other at some personal level to create trust and cooperation. Even a regular one-line message about the well being of another person could create better understanding and rapport. Try to learn about the culture and try to cooperate. Of course, you would have some different points of view than the other, so utilize these differences as a strength.
“Strength lies in difference and not in the similarities” - Steve Covey
Most important of all have empathy towards your colleague. It’s one of the important aspects of remote collaboration. Your colleague from other continents may not be well versed in English, don’t get irritated but rather offer help. If they are stuck at something that you find easy, not necessarily mean easy for them, you should rather think from their perspective and help.
Don’t avoid responding to any greetings or queries after seeing the message, it goes across as rude behavior and the person might hesitate to reach out to you again. If you are busy then, in that case, make sure that you let them know and then contact them later.
Coming to the second barrier, that is the time difference. This can be avoided by setting up expectations upfront especially with regards to your availability.
Working at random work hours could make collaboration difficult and could create mistrust.
Make sure you guys have some over-lapping time of some 4 hours as you could reach out to each other for any requirement and discussion.
Work on fixed working hours to avoid any confusion and to further streamline the process.
Lack of Communication
Most challenging aspect of working from home is establishing continuous communication. If you are working in an office then it becomes easy to ask any doubt, clarification, and help. But when working from home you cannot easily communicate, even for a confirmation you have to wait for hours. Usually, people say applications like slack and Microsoft teams help to have that continuous channel of communication.
Such applications are useful but people tend to be busy and in the process, they forget to reply.
The problem, in this case, is not with the application but it is with the people. One way to solve this is by making sure at regular intervals of time that whether you have received any messages or not.
Regular meetings can be arranged to check for dependencies and to understand who can potentially reach out to you on that day.
Plus you can use absence management software to keep each other in the know of who is available and who's having a day off.
Make use of the settings, and let people know when you are busy and when you are not, such options are available in all basic professional communication tools.
“Communication is What Makes a Team Strong ” - Brian Mclennan
Poor Internet Connection
Poor internet connection is a generic problem for people who connect from home. This could be because of any reason like poor connectivity, bad weather, spyware and sometimes your mood!
Well, to begin with, you can have a good cup of coffee to solve the problem associated with your mood then you should always have a backup dongle, mobile hotspot or a backup wifi network in your premise.
Preparing for the worst-case scenario will make your job easy and the work will not get hindered.
You can always check the broadband speed before commencing your work as it will give you an idea of how the network would be for the whole day and if it’s poor you can enable all the possible backup in advance.
“Always have a backup plan”
Unable to Socialize
If you start working from home over a while you become an addict to a routine that usually does more harm to your personal life than good. Of course, it’s not bad to be in the comfort of your home but detaching yourself from the outside world is.
Working from home can be too immersive and one can lose track of time, with the advent of new norms of social distancing things are not looking good as people are isolating themselves.
Situations like this have to be avoided as your behavior changes for the worst if such scenarios prevail for long. Humans are social beings and social interaction is one of the important aspects of human life. Eliminating it all of the sudden could have physiological repercussions.
What can be done in such scenarios?
Connect with your family members over skype and interact with them. This will not only boost your morale but also keep you stable as there is someone with whom you can talk.
Visit and help your neighbors in this dire time, there could be elderly people who would need help, you can help them in whichever way possible. Doing such a thing will make you connect with them and help you to feel like a human being.
Conduct online event internally for your team, this event should not necessarily be any professional discussion but a rather personal discussion. You can further play some online games to boost the morale of your team and yourself. Engagement like these will break the barriers and will keep your team in proper shape.
“Socializing is more positive than being alone, that’s why meetings are so popular. People don’t like being alone. That would be, however, an important skill to learn...” - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Not Caring for Health
While working from home most of the time goes by sitting in front of the laptop. Sitting for long hours could result in some side effect, it could impact you’re your posture and make you weak.
It’s better to take a break in between and walk in your balcony, terrace or inside your room itself.
Other than your work hours, set aside some 15-30 minutes to do some cardio exercise as it will make you feel refreshing. There are some Apps like Daily Cardio Workout, it has many videos that one can follow easily.
Mental health is also one of the important factors that you should consider. While you are at home you are still thinking about your office work, you are unable to create a mindset where you can separate both professional and personal life as both are converging in the same place.
To find your way out of this misery you can meditate. Apps like Headspace ensure you are focused and immersed within yourself. Meditation helps you to focus on things better and have a clear vision.
Work from home can give you a peaceful environment without regular disturbance from your colleague as this is the case if you are working from company premises.
But here comes a different challenge, you can get distracted by a TV playing right next to your room. Your friends can ping you or even call you. Your better half or significant other could interrupt you with some requirements and most terrifying of all your kid can create chaos amid an important meeting.
All these things could happen, in some cases, there could be emergencies but generally, it’s not the case.
So, you should let your relatives and kids know when you are busy and in what case they are allowed to interrupt you.
Put your phone on silent and avoid the unwanted distractions.
Don’t re-schedule any work just because you want to have a fun time watching that one series that you can’t miss.
“Starve Your Distraction and Feed Your Focus”
Difficult to Train Employees
Amid this crisis, many organizations are struggling to train their employees on new applications as they are working from home. The small-size organization is relying on video conferencing but the big organization is unable to utilize video –conferencing as it has its own challenges.
Organizations are losing money on their investment and unable to make their employees use the new application without proper training as that could lead to improper entry and pseudo data.
The better way to do this is by using a solution like the Digital Adoption Platform(DAP). It guides your employees to move from one step to another in any web-based application. Further helps you to optimize the walkthrough as per the roadblocks faced by a set of users. It allows you to customize the walkthroughs for each job function.
Training via this method is easy, not only that creating a walkthrough using the Digital Adoption Platform(DAP) can be created in a matter of a few hours.
It’s one of the effective and efficient ways to enable training for your employees.
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” – Jack Welch
Overcoming challenges of working from home
The crisis we are in is getting worse and worse as we speak but eventually, things will fall in place. The biggest learning for an organization is to maintain business continuity in whatever way possible.
There is a famous saying:-
“Prepare for the Worst and Hope for Best”.
Some organization that has followed this mantra has leveraged profit even in this scenario while for many organization it was a learning curve to implement that mantra in their DNA.
The future looks bright as the new world order will make sure that work from home becomes more proficient and capable.