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Telecommuting struggles since Covid-19, and how to overcome them

With the rising number of companies shifting towards telecommuting since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, many have been struggling to cope with the effects that come with working remotely. These problems are especially evident in smaller companies with no proper systems in place before the shift, and little experience with remote work.

Employees face struggles when shifting towards remote work as well, and it is important to face these challenges head on in order to be happier and more productive despite working from home. Here are some of the main challenges faced by employees when telecommuting, along with solutions to overcome them.

  1. Working too much

Upper management and bosses often worry that with employees working from home, they may face many distractions and tend to slack off. The inertia when working from home may be difficult to overcome, however contrary to popular belief, it is often difficult for employees to knock off on time when “both their personal life and work are under the same roof.” Going into the office everyday allows you to leave your work at your workplace, but when working from home individuals tend to feel the need to “check an email” or just finish up some trivial matters even after office hours.

In order to avoid overworking, it is important to set up reminders for breaks and to stick to a plan. It is a good practice to set up a timetable to follow when working remotely to prevent yourself from overworking. It is also vital to let your team know when you are knocking off work, to prevent additional tasks from being assigned for the day - causing you to work into the night. It is also important to have physical boundaries between you and your work space. For example, physically leaving your work outside your room would reduce the temptation to log back onto check one last email or finish up another menial task. Finally, turning off your notifications would help to ensure that you do not get coaxed back into working after office hours.

2. Prioritizing work

The temptation to procrastinate when working from home is definitely elevated, be it taking mid-day breaks for “just one episode” or for “just a short nap”. Remote workers are essentially facing the test of self-discipline and self-motivation, along with their ability to stick to the schedule they set out each day to achieve.

With that being said, it is important to kick start each day with your most significant task so you know that the day is not going to get any worse than what you’ve already been through! This acts as a motivating factor to help you accomplish what you’ve set out to complete for the day. When faced with too many tasks to check off, individuals would feel unmotivated and struggle to complete all of them. Hence, you could attempt to plan 1 big task, 3 medium ones and 5 small ones to complete each day, following the 1-3-5 rule in order to maximise your daily achievements.

3. Dealing with distractions at home

One of the biggest problems faced by remote workers would include being disrupted in the middle of the day by a delivery or a visiting relative etc. This reduces the employee’s productivity levels and distracts them from what they are actually supposed to complete.

To deal with this, it is important to create a signal for the people around you to know when it is crunch time and they should not intrude. Leaving a simple sign that says “Do not disturb” on the door when working from home or a “Just leave it at the door, thanks!” sign for the delivery man, could help to keep distractions at a minimal. If the people around you are not receptive of your practices, it is important to explain to them that distractions would only require you to work even longer and harder! If you have young children, it is advised to send them to a childcare in order to focus on your work at home.

These were some of the key struggles that many remote employees related to during the Covid-19 pandemic shift towards telecommuting! Telecommuting does come with its perks – less travelling time and fewer distractions from co-workers moving about in the office, but does still come with new obstacles. However, if tackled the right way, these obstacles can easily be overcome with a little more self-discipline and motivation!

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