Overcoming the challenges of working from home

2020 was a year that none of us will be sad to leave behind, but unfortunately the nightmare doesn’t seem to be over just yet. 

With a national lockdown announced last week in the UK, many teams are once again forced to work completely remotely. 

Remote working can be a great (even superior) way of collaborating with your people. It gives greater flexibility, and can help employees achieve an improved work-life balance. 

Unfortunately, it also comes with its share of hurdles - especially for teams who are unfamiliar with it. 

In this article, we have collated some ideas to help you overcome the challenges of working from home and help organisations to realise the benefits of remote working. 

1. Tools to support success 

It is impossible to consider the challenges of working from home without thinking of the tools we use to make it happen. For this very reason, we created our Periodic Table of Remote Working which includes some of the leading solutions to help your distributed team to collaborate effectively. 

Inc. also recommends ensuring that all your people are using the same software: 

“When everyone is using the same product, it’s much easier to troubleshoot when someone has an issue. If your employee needs help with the software they’re using, but it’s new to you, you won’t be able to lead effectively. If everyone is on the same page, you can take the training and learn to help your remote staff via screen sharing or text instructions.”  

2. Overcoming isolation 

A universal challenge of working from home is loneliness. The background noise of an office, the coffee-point conversations, and the feeling of community that come from being surrounded by people are powerful forces that we leave behind when working remotely. 

When it is safe to do so, getting outside of the ‘four walls’ is a good idea. Telecommuting, even if temporarily, helps to break up the loneliness of working from home. 

In an interview conducted by HubSpot, Corey Wainwright said: 

“[Telecommuting] helps simulate the work environment for me – white noise, chatter, that kind of thing – that usually helps me work better than utter silence. It also removes the distractions I typically have at home like the urge to finally actually clean my room, do laundry, or watch TV.” 

3. Over-communicating

Whether your team chooses, or is forced, to work remotely, communication can become challenging from the get-go. 

In a traditional office, things are mentioned in passing, and updates are communicated more readily when your colleagues are by your side, or a short walk away. 

According to a guide by Remote Year, over-communication is key to overcoming the challenges of working from home, stating that for employees and managers “it’s your job to schedule 1:1 check-in meetings on a weekly basis to connect on your goals, upcoming projects and daily tasks.” 

4. Ring fencing your home office

The days of the bricks-and-mortar office, and the ability to leave your work at the door when you leave are gone - at least temporarily. 

As the lines between home and work are blurred, it is vital to create a space for your work, and ensure that you set physical boundaries that allow you to switch off.

StrategyDriven shared an article that explains this in more detail: 

“A laptop on the sofa or the dining table may be a workable solution for the occasional WFH day. However, if you are working remotely on a more regular, permanent basis, you should create a work-only zone as a way to set up boundaries around your professional and private life.”

5. Trust as a foundation

According to Forbes, leading a remote team is impossible without trust. 

Everyone you bring into your team is hired for a reason, and you need to trust that they have the expertise and experience to do their job effectively. This should include allowing your team to choose how and when they conduct their duties, giving them the flexibility to manage their schedule.

This should also include encouraging people to set healthy boundaries. With remote working, people are working longer hours than ever before, and you need to ensure that your team doesn’t burn out. 

6. Keeping aligned  

Team alignment is perhaps the biggest challenge of working from home. In a physical office space, social cues and body language play a significant role in forging and maintaining interpersonal relationships, and working from home strips these away almost completely. 

In their place, it is vital to inject deliberate alignment tactics that help you to get your people on the same page. According to Dan Colgan in an article on LinkedIn:

“One way of engaging teams is to take the first 5 to 10 minutes of a meeting to get the team onboard with each other. Ask them to share an accomplishment or something they experienced since the last time you gathered.” 

Another effective means of aligning your people, no matter where they are working from, is giving them some skin in the game. Employees who are given equity are found to be more committed to the success of a business than those without.

If you would like to find out more about sharing equity with your team, schedule a no obligation consultation with one of our experts today.