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Fixing the Problems With Working From Home

Updated: May 10


Working from home has never been more available to employees and freelancers around the world. It's flexible, there's no traveling, and there's a chance for a healthier work-life balance too! But working from home isn't always as easy as it sounds. It can come with problems that affect your productivity, communication, and well-being. But don't worry, we've got your back.

 

In this guide, you'll find some simple and effective strategies to help you fix the problems that can come with working from home.

 

How Can I Fix My Unstructured Routine?


Remote workers can find they have no fixed working hours or break times, and there's no one around to tell them to stick to a schedule. It can become hard to see where work life ends and home life begins. And it's so easy to start work 2 hours late because of all the housework you can see around you! So, let's look at how to bring some structure to our remote workdays.

 

Tips for Creating a Structured Routine


Try these simple tips for creating a structured work routine so you make the best use of your time, and maintain focus when working from home:


  • Set regular work hours - set yourself a regular start and end time for your workday that fits your work and home life, and keep to it. Our brains work well with routine.


  • Make daily to-do lists - each morning, write a list of tasks and prioritize them based on importance. This will keep you organized and remind you of important tasks.


  • Plan your breaks - schedule short breaks throughout your day to rest your brain. Use this time to move about, get a snack, or do something else you enjoy.


  • Build a routine - create a routine that combines work tasks with personal activities, like morning habits, exercising, meal preparation, and hobbies or relaxation time.


  • Set boundaries - set clear boundaries with your family or housemates about your work hours, and avoid working in shared areas where you might get distracted.



Remember, it’s okay if your routine isn't perfect! Some days things won't go as planned. Just focus on creating a routine that works for you, and be open to change when it's needed. Having some structure in place will help you stay focused and productive. For more detailed advice take a look at 10 tips for managing your time at work.

 

Where Can I Find Space to Work?


Our homes can be busy places and many of us have multi-use rooms that can fill up with kids' toys, DIY projects, and clothes. Our homes are full of distractions from family members, roommates, and pets, and when we do sit down to work it can be on uncomfortable chairs that were not designed to be used for 8 hours a day. Many of us don't have the budget or space for a designated workspace with pot plants, good lighting, and back support. But it's important to work with what you have to create a workspace that fits your needs and helps you stay focused.

 

Tips for Creating a Dedicated Workspace


If you are finding it hard to create a workspace for yourself at home, try these tips to make the most of what you have:


  • Be creative - a quiet corner or an empty closet can be made into a workspace. There are folding and wall-mounted desks, and even desks that can slide under other tables!


  • Minimize distractions - to help you focus, minimize background noises with headphones, and create a "wall" or barrier so you can't see the rest of your home.


  • Make it personal - add personal things to your workspace, like photos, plants, or toy figurines. Decorate with things that make you feel comfortable and positive.


  • Prioritize ergonomics - buy a comfortable chair and an adjustable desk for a healthy back and neck. You can use cushions or books to adjust heights if you're on a budget.


  • Keep it organized - tidy and clean your workspace regularly, and use organizers and storage to keep everything in its place. This means less time looking for things.


You can create a dedicated workspace that helps you stay on track while working from home. It can take a little practice and some clear boundaries but if you follow these steps you should make a good start. You can also find more advice about making a home office in a small space.

 

How Can I Still Feel Like Part of the Team?


It's easy to feel invisible and like you are missing out on opportunities when working remotely. We can overuse written communication and, with no in-person contact, we miss out on tone of voice and body language, so it's easy to have misunderstandings. Time zone differences can make us feel even further away if we work when our colleagues are asleep, and when everyone comes online at the same time we can suddenly get overloaded with information. But there are some tips for making yourself seen and heard when working from home.

 

Make Yourself Seen and Heard


Here are some suggestions to help you still be seen and heard in your team when working from home:


  • Catch-up calls - plan regular video calls with your team and manager to stay connected and maintain working relationships. It can even be a quick “virtual coffee”.


  • Universal time zones - use calendars like Google Calendar to see multiple time zones. Plan meetings in Universal Time (UTC), and be flexible so you can include everyone.


  • Use video calls - talk about complex or sensitive topics in video or audio calls to avoid misunderstandings. AI tools like Magical.so can help you schedule and take call notes.  


  • Create videos - If you’re unavailable for a video call, use recording applications like Loom to record complicated processes or thoughts that are hard to write down.


  • Use organizational chat tools - create chat channels or threads for different topics to keep track of your conversations, links, and other tasks that could get missed.


  • Give yourself space - have quiet working hours and use the "Do Not Disturb" features on communication apps to focus on priority tasks. Tell your team your available hours.


  • Over-communicate! - share your achievements, challenges, and progress updates with your team. Schedule 1:1s with your manager for feedback and problem-solving.


  • Engage - speak up and get involved in meetings, social events, and discussions. Ask clarifying questions and share your experiences in meetings to be seen taking part.


Don't wait to be seen, use your communication skills to ask for what you need and share what you have to offer. Good communication can boost teamwork, help you feel more connected, and help you grow professionally whether you are at home or in the office.

 

What Can I Do About Technology Problems?


Technology is always advancing and updating, and with so much change we can experience a lot of technical problems in our home workspaces. Nobody wants to work from home with lots of software errors and an unstable internet connection ending their video calls. There's also new software to learn for remote working and to keep work information safe on a home network. Most of us don't have an IT department in our kitchens, so what do you do if you can't get the technology working?

 

Handling Technical Issues


Here are some tips to help work through technical challenges and enjoy a less stressful and more productive remote working experience:



  • Update your tools - keep your software up to date with automatic updates. Most tech issues are related to out-of-date software. Automatic updates are a great option.


  • Train online - use online tutorials, webinars, and training sessions to learn new tools quickly and understand how they work. YouTube usually has useful tutorial videos.


  • Use a VPN - using a virtual private network (VPN) will keep your location and identity secret, and protect you from any cyber-attacks made on your internet connection.  


  • Join video calls early - give yourself 5 minutes to make sure your video and audio technology is working properly before your meetings start.


  • Ask for help - contact your company’s IT support team for remote help, learn basic troubleshooting steps for common issues, and Google anything that's new to you!


Don't worry, there are lots of resources online to help you, and it's okay to contact your team for help. You can also read about the most common technical problems for remote workers to help you understand how to fix most problems.

 

How Do I Develop in My Career?


After working from home for some time, you might start to feel that you're missing chances to develop in your career. There aren't many opportunities for feedback from your boss and teammates at home, and you don't hear the office chat anymore, so it's difficult to share learning points with colleagues. Even finding time and motivating yourself to work on professional development can be a challenge when working from home. So, what can you do to keep developing in your career when you work remotely?

 

Finding opportunities to learn and grow professionally


Working remotely doesn’t mean you stop learning, it just means you need to take a little more control. Let's look at some tips for developing your career when working from home:


  • Stay connected - schedule online check-ins with your colleagues to chat about work over some coffee, and join industry chat groups to keep yourself up-to-date.


  • Take online workshops - interactive remote workshops, webinars, and conferences offer valuable learning and a community to connect with others over shared interests.


  • Schedule it - plan professional development time regularly and stick to it. Even 2 hours a month on e-learning platforms learning at your own speed will help.


  • Ask for feedback - directly ask for feedback from supervisors and teammates through virtual meetings, 1:1s, and messaging platforms. But be careful not to ask too often.


  • Have a goal - set yourself specific professional development goals and plan to achieve them. You can track your progress yourself or with your manager in your 1:1s.


"If you can get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done." - James Clear, Atomic Habits.

 

You can still make learning and growth a priority when you work from home. Just online resources, keep in touch with colleagues, and ask for feedback and opportunities to improve your skills.

 

How Do I Prioritize My Health?

It's easy to forget where work ends and your personal life begins when it all happens at home. Sometimes we can forget to think about our mental health, and not having colleagues around can also make us feel lonely. But don't worry, with a little effort and some routine you can find ways to care for yourself.

 

Good Self-Care When Working From Home


Try out these tips for remote work well-being to see what works for you:


  • Practice 'mindfulness' - mindfulness can be as simple as focusing on how you make a cup of coffee or focusing on breathing in and out for 5 minutes a day. Give it a try!


  • Be realistic - be kind to yourself and understand that it's normal to have ups and downs in productivity. Try not to feel pressured to be at 100% every day.


  • Prioritize sleep - your brain needs sleep to focus, think creatively, and be productive. Try to keep to a sleep schedule and have relaxation time before bed every night.


  • Healthy food and drink - your brain also needs healthy food (including fats) and water to work properly. Stay hydrated and eat nutritious meals and snacks.


  • Take a walk - sitting for long periods can lead to physical pain and tiredness. Try to get up, stretch, and move around during breaks to help your back, brain, and heart.


  • Get support - get professional mental health support if you are experiencing any problems. Talk to friends and family and let people know what they can do to help.


  • Be your friend - follow the advice you would give to a close friend in your situation. If it's not kind enough to say to a friend, it's not kind enough to say to yourself.


For more detailed information on well-being, try reading about developing a healthier lifestyle while working from home.

 

Wrap Up


Taking care of remote working problems is important for your happiness and success. It takes some time, but keep working on finding balance with a flexible routine, staying connected, and taking care of yourself mentally and physically. It's all about learning what works best for you and being ready to make changes when needed. And don't forget, you're not alone. Ask for support and connect with other remote workers. Try adding to your routine one week at a time to make the change more manageable, and you could find yourself in love with working from home very soon.

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