Remote work has been almost forced upon companies with COVID-19. Now is the time to decide whether to ask employees to return to the office, or not.
The rise in remote work has left many with concerns. here are some of the most common remote work concerns and how to deal with them.
1. It often leads to loneliness
Working from home can get incredibly lonely, and this is particularly true for extroverted people like me. Given that I rarely got out of the house when I first started working remotely, the feeling of loneliness frequently took over.
One of the best things about working in an office environment is the built-in social life it provides. On the other hand, when it comes to remote work, there are concerns over the lack of social interactions and you have to force yourself to get out of the house in order to interact with others. This is one of the things that make working at the office so special.
The Buffer 2018 State of Remote Work report found that loneliness is the biggest challenge when it comes to working remotely. Further, a research study conducted by Gallup indicates that employees who work from the office once a week are much more likely to achieve optimal engagement.
Takeaway: Social interaction is highly essential when dealing with work and working remotely can increase your risk of suffering from loneliness.
2. Home office & distractions
The lack of a dedicated space to do their work is another very common problem associated with working from home. For instance, if you currently live in a small New York Apartment, upgrading to a bigger house with a dedicated home office can prove to be very expensive.
As a result, most people are forced to cope with endless distractions from pets, babies, family members, cell phone, house duties, and the list goes on. In the office setting, one is clearly separated from their home life and is able to focus better on their work. However, when you find yourself having to work where you live, setting a boundary between work and personal life can be quite difficult.
Takeaway: Working where you live can often lead to a blurred work-life balance.
3. Less spontaneous interactions
Remote working has made people start appreciating the casual conversations and spontaneous “water cooler” discussions they had with colleagues back at the office. These informal conversations help employees get to know each other and also provide an opportunity to establish rapport and trust. At the office, it is much easier to randomly grab lunch or coffee with a coworker and strengthen your relationship, which can have a positive effect on your performance at work. When working remotely, there are days that you miss these small natural events.
When working from home, you have to force these things to happen. They don’t come about naturally. One can easily go an entire day without talking to another human. Learning more about your colleagues besides their work and understanding them on a more personal level is instrumental in building a strong workforce.
Click here to find out more about the importance of informal conversations at the workplace.
Takeaway: Working physically together in the same place allows for more opportunities to engage in ad hoc discussions helping to build and strengthen relationships.
4. It makes collaborating more difficult
When people are physically isolated from one another, it can be difficult to work together effectively towards solving ambiguous problems. However, when you are working together in the same room, it helps create a fully immersive experience where everyone has access to all of the important data points to process including body language, tone, and more. Through this quick feedback loop, common ground can be reached upon in a fast and efficient manner.
Takeaway: When people are working together in the same room it establishes a real-time feedback loop that helps to speed up problem-solving.
5. It can make career progression more laborious
To add to the list of remote work concerns is how an employee’s hard work and input can easily go unnoticed, particularly so if one is competing for a promotion with other employees who come into the office every day. While it might be easy to assume that your boss is a horrible person, the actual reason you were passed up for the promotion may have been due to availability bias. The fact that your boss sees the other person every day at the office and is also able to pick up on various signals from that individual, something they can’t do with you, puts you at a great disadvantage. This could be something as small as a spontaneous conversation with a higher-up while grabbing lunch or coffee or something big like actively participating in a random work project that came about as a result of a conversation in-between meetings.
Additionally, when one is at the office, the boss can be able to easily observe and gauge how one interacts with others. This is an important factor, especially if you are eyeing a role that requires a certain level of interpersonal skills. A company can help with this issue with HR outsourcing, it is imperative that staff feel engaged and part of the organisation wherever they are working.
Takeaway: When working remotely, you may have to do a lot more to get a promotion compared to another worker who is in the same place as the people in charge of the promotion.
6. Learning and mentorship
When I started my first job right after college, I barely knew exactly the role expected of me. But luckily, I was in the presence of helpful coworkers who mentored and taught me everything I needed to know. Granted, if I was a remote worker, I would have had a very rough time adjusting for this specific reason:
Initiating a conversation as a remote worker, especially when you are new to the job and don’t know your coworkers well isn’t easy. However, when you are in the same place as others, it is much easier to initiate conversations and ask question when you are stuck or don’t understand something.
Having worked remotely for a long time, I highly advise that those who are just starting out their career to remain as close as possible to the office.
Takeaway: If you are in the early stages of your career and want to maximize your learning process, you should think carefully about remote working early at this time.
7. It can promote a sedentary lifestyle
Another potential problem associated with working remotely is that it can easily and quickly lead workers into a sedentary lifestyle. When you are working comfortably at home, there is rarely the need or the urge to get up more often or move or get some exercise. However, when working at the office, engaging in some level of physical activity will always be part of your day – be it walking to the train station, walking to work, or for drivers, moving from one meeting to another, getting up to handle some tasks, etc.
Remote workers can potentially spend the whole day in their office. For example, in my case, there were days I would barely move and I didn’t care that it was bad for my health.
Takeaway: It is crucial for those working from home to sneak in some level of physical activity into their routine.