The thought of being able to live and work in the same space is incredibly attractive — and more and more people are taking advantage of remote workplaces. The benefits are many: workers save time, money, and energy by not having to commute and share their workspace with others. And employers save money by not needing to supply office space to 100% of their employees. Not to mention the benefits employers gain from being able to attract top talent from all over the country or even the world. But it's not all sunshine and rainbows: there are pitfalls to working from home. It's important to know what they are to be able to prevent or alleviate them.
You shouldn't be afraid of working from home. Everyone in any workspace will encounter similar challenges. But being aware of these pitfalls is necessary in order to be prepared to deal with them.
OK, let's dive in...
This one's an obvious one. For some, working at home is the ideal situation because you don't have to be in a physical workspace every day. For introverts, this is a dream come true (and for some extroverts, too!). But feeling isolated can affect anyone, no matter your Myers Briggs personality type. Isolation can come to you when you least expect it, and it builds on itself.
If you're not careful, feelings of isolation can escalate into something much more serious. If you start feeling isolated, try the following:
You can make it a quick phone call or a video chat, but it should entail some sort of personal connection. Email and chat just won't do the trick here. Pick up a phone or dial into a virtual meeting. Join our monthly Networkplaceless virtual networking events to learn and engage with fellow work from home professionals.
If you do work close enough to your organization's workplace, try going in for a meeting or one full day of work. Seeing people face-to-face, even for a short amount of time, can keep those feelings of isolation at bay.
And don't forget your friends and family. If you can't connect in real life with your coworkers, make an effort to reach out to your friends and family in your area. Another great option is to attend a networking or other professional event.
If you work at home, you're surrounded by potential distractions. There are floors to vacuum, laundry to fold, meals to prepare, groceries to buy... the list goes on and on. Not to mention the distraction of working in the same place as your family members.
(Of course any mention of family distractions needs the requisite mention of the hilarious video below!)
You can't eliminate all the potential distractions that you'll find when working from home. But you can develop clear boundaries to keep those distractions from affecting your work.
Only allow yourself to complete chores or non-work activities during specific times of the day. Be clear about what your boundaries are and communicate them with your friends and family. And after you set your boundaries — stick to them!
Not everyone will be able to have their own office at home, and that's OK. But you should have a dedicated workspace that indicates to you — and everyone in your home — that you are working. You don't even have to use that workspace exclusively (after all, what's the point of remote work if you can't change it up a bit?!), but having a dedicated workspace can help you minimize the opportunity for distraction at home.
Related to distraction, procrastination can be a huge problem when working from home. You have a lot of potential distractions and you also don't have people who are physically watching you. This means that procrastination can rear its ugly head when you least expect it, and then before you know it you've spent hours on social media or cleaning your house. And all because you didn't want to start that new big project, or because your next deadline isn't until next week.
When you're in a procrastination slump, try the following strategies:
If you're struggling with goal setting, try using the tips we outline here.
Procrastination often comes from overestimating the amount of time you have to complete a task. Use this time budget to help you keep track of how much time you actually have left in your workday to get work done.
Anyone who has worked from home will be able to recognize at least one of these pitfalls. There are additional challenges that are specific to certain companies or industries, but many of those actually stem from these top 3 pitfalls. Again, this is not meant to scare anyone from working from home. But the more prepared you are, the better you can actually deal with these pitfalls when you encounter them.
Should you need additional formal support our Workplaceless Remote Work Certification program kicks-off with a module centered on learning self-management for remote workers.