4 Pressing Questions About Remote Work, Answered

5 Mins read
4 Pressing Questions About Remote Work, Answered

We are now weeks into this pandemic and with social distancing and stay-at-home orders still ruling our daily lives, it’s highly likely that most first-timers in this work-from-home thing have already grown accustomed to it, perhaps even gotten the hang of it, or even come to like it. Seeing that some experts believe that remote working will be more common in the post-pandemic world, that’s a great thing.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that there might be people that have some questions about it. Maybe not the operational kind, as they are more easily sorted out. But there might be some other pressing questions regarding the “backstage” of remote working that is better to address right now. Doing so won’t just be helpful for people asking them today, during the crisis, but also for those that are considering adopting remote work for good once this is over.

As a software development company that has been working remotely for the past decade, a lot of people have come to us to help them with the transition. So, we’re going to go over 4 questions most of them are having trouble with. Tackling them makes a huge difference in the day-to-day routine of online collaboration. 

Working From Home Affects Psychological Health?

It doesn’t take a psychologist to know that changes are likely to generate anxiety and make people uncomfortable. And considering that remote working is a mandate rather than a choice for most, some may believe that home working (at least during the pandemic) is a change for the worse. How can’t it be? Gone are the watercooler conversations and informal desk-to-desk gossip. Combined with social isolation, it could be a recipe for disaster.

Yet that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s true that you can’t go to a bar to make up for those face-to-face conversations and that will surely impact you on some level. But you can always have online instances that mitigate the impact. Having work colleagues meet through videoconference tools like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Jitsi to informally talk about their lives or share a little chat while drinking from home can work wonderfully.

Once the restrictions are lifted, you’ll be able to meet with other people outside of work, but online camaraderie will (and should) remain. It’s an important part of any job, even without the exceptional context of a pandemic quarantine, because it can foster teamwork, humanize the team, and make job days more enjoyable.

Is There A Way To Foster A Good Remote Culture?

Employees working from home for the first time aren’t the only ones that might be feeling lost. Managers and team leaders can feel the impact of the disruption the new work mechanic brings to their workflows. Managing staff is already a challenging task and doing it remotely adds a whole new dimension of complexity to it. However, that doesn’t mean it is impossible. By taking a few effective measures, it’s possible to lead a team and create a good remote culture even in companies that have never used remote collaboration before.

The most important of those measures is to ramp up your communication to make sure that everyone in the team knows what’s going on. This includes a lot of things. First and foremost, selecting the channels that you’ll use to do so, which can include online platforms like Slack, VoIP tools like Skype, or task-organizational platforms like Jira. And then, it also implies defining the things you’ll share with the team: new objectives, clients’ news, strategic changes, modifications to the team, and everything that isn’t readily obvious (practically everything).

Then, you have to re-arrange your schedule to make time for everyone. Team meetings are fine but you need to go beyond that and make space to talk to individual members if you can. Providing that space will make employees feel cared for and will put to rest any speculation they might have when outside the office. Finally, embrace the idea that things won’t be the same as when you worked in your office, so don’t push for it. You can see this in a lot of things, from how things are delivered to how long the meetings last. 

Is There A Way to Set Better Boundaries Between Private Life And Work?

One of the biggest struggles for every newcomer to remote work is how to divide their private life from their work. Since both of them are done from the same space, it’s easy for them to get entangled, and not in a good way. Usually, this causes an imbalance that will have you working more hours, something that will obviously make your personal life suffer. You can’t let that happen!

Fortunately, there are several things you can do and many applications and tools you can use to help them do it. For instance, you can block off time on your calendar for personal activities, including having lunch with your family, helping the kids with their homework, or just chilling on your couch while you play the guitar. Taking those spaces up will prevent other people from trying to “hijack” you during those periods. Plus, you’ll also get notifications reminding you what you should be doing instead of being in front of the screen.

You can also use one of the many mobile apps available to block you off the internet in your work device after your office hours have passed. You can employ tools to track your screen time, the amount of exercise you do, or even some that will help you implement the Pomodoro technique in your life. All of those (and more) are valid efforts to keep a balance between your personal life and your work. 

Can It Be That Remote Work Doesn’t Feel Like Work At All?

Well, it surely can. People that haven’t worked from home before can’t fathom how they can organize their days and activities to work in the same way as they do when they are in the office. In fact, a lot of people feel guilty or unproductive whenever they take a break in their homes to take care of the dog, talk to their roommates, or whatever happens in their houses.

What’s more, there’s the common belief that all of those things make remote workers unproductive, which is why some companies are avoiding using remote work in the first place.

All of those things are ill-conceived. Research has shown that productivity doesn’t suffer when working from home and trying to do the things in the same way as you did back in the office doesn’t make sense. Remote work isn’t like office work but it’s work after all, so it’s not a matter of how it “feels” but a matter of what gets done, regardless of how you approach it. 

Moving Forward

Chances are that remote working is here to stay. In that sense, you should look at it as another working model that might be part of any future job you might have. As more and more people are discovering right now, working from home can be effective, productive, and even environmentally beneficial.

With all that in mind, it’s practically evident that remote working is here to stay, so it’s better to be clear about what it implies and what the myths around it are. These questions and their answers can help you in that direction but, by all means, keep reading and learning about it.

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