By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide
Working remotely typically comes with a high sense of freedom and, for many people, has become the new normal when it comes to work environments. Yet, despite the fact that remote work increased a whopping 159% from 2005 to 2017 and continues to grow, it’s common to find people who are a little reluctant to move to full-time solo status because of all the unknowns. If you’re considering pursuing remote work, here are four of the most daunting things about working alone (and how to confront them).
1. Staying motivated
One huge challenge many remote workers face is staying motivated without being immersed in a team environment. It can be tempting to catch up on your favorite Netflix series or take in a lazy day at home without a boss looking over your shoulder. Other people simply struggle to prioritize tasks without the structure of the office environment. A solution can often be found in setting some motivational strategies.
- Wake up by an alarm. Establishing your own office hours is a great remote perk. Still, it’s a good idea to set an alarm each day and treat your workday the same as if you were commuting to the office. It doesn’t have to be a 6 a.m. alarm, but it should be consistent. Pick a time that aligns with your work groove and stick to it.
- Shower and dress for success. Working in PJs definitely has a nice ring to it, but this can often encourage distractions or an inability to get going. If this sounds familiar, try putting on work clothes when you commute to your home office or dining room table. It might do wonders!
- Organize your space. A cramped, disorganized workspace often leads to a lack of motivation. After all, who wants to dig through clutter to simply find a place to work? Set a dedicated space and keep it tidy and neat.
- Eliminate distractions. Working from home often means interruptions you typically don’t see at the office. Silence your personal cell, turn off social media notifications, and let family and friends know your working hours to avoid these common disruptions.
Let’s say you’ve done these and you’re still struggling for motivation. If a few hours working in the camaraderie of a coffeehouse still doesn’t quite cut it, consider trying out a coworking space, where the energy of so many people working on different projects can be infectious.
If you’re still uninspired, then perhaps a more drastic change of scenery is in order. Relocating to a new city might be the answer, especially if it’s one with good opportunities to offer. For instance, Charlotte is an affordable entrepreneur-friendly city with great dining, a thriving economy, and plenty of networking options. Life changes can be the best motivators.
2. Feeling lonely
Loneliness is a nagging issue for some when working remotely. After experiencing the camaraderie of working side-by-side with your colleagues, it can be tough to get through stressful work days or even triumphant celebrations alone. Try these approaches to combat feelings of loneliness.
- Network. Everyone should be networking for professional opportunities — but when working alone, you gain the added benefit of socializing with other people. Try joining local meetups or attending industry shows to double down on your efforts.
- Join a coworking space. These spaces are a great chance to combat loneliness because of the ability to put yourself in a professional environment while still maintaining the autonomy that comes with remote work options. With coworking spaces, you also gain structure, emotional support, camaraderie, and networking opportunities.
- Use social networks. While online communication doesn’t completely replace in-person conversations, it can lessen some of those isolated feelings by keeping in touch with others on your breaks.
Finding ways to get yourself back out in the world not only reduces feelings of loneliness but also can relieve depression symptoms or even combat cabin fever.
3. Addressing cybersecurity
One of the most daunting aspects of working alone is dealing with cybersecurity. Whether you’re working for someone else or running your own company, you’ll be managing someone else’s data and will need to make sure it’s secure. To reduce the stresses and logistics associated with cybersecurity, you can transition your data to the cloud. Cloud storage solutions are easy, accessible, and highly secure, making this tech the perfect combo for someone who wants location independence.
4. Being excluded
One of the biggest drawbacks of working alone is being “out of sight, out of mind.” This is especially true for people working for companies where other co-workers still work in-house. According to statistics, 70% of remote employees feel left out of the workplace. Even worse, 57% say they miss out on important information, and 55% are excluded from meetings. To resolve this issue, try the following.
- Focus on collaboration. Be sure to connect with your colleagues in as many ways as possible. Use online productivity tools, messaging apps, or video conferencing software to simulate being in the workplace alongside your co-workers.
- Drop in at the office. This may or may not be feasible, depending on your work situation, but if you’re working for a company that has an office, make an effort to drop by once or twice a month.
- Be honest. If you’re feeling excluded, try talking to your boss or colleagues about it. They probably don’t mean to exclude you, but are so wrapped up in the office’s day-to-day events that they likely aren’t considering how their actions might make you feel. Once they realize, chances are they’ll make more of an effort to include you.
Not addressing feelings of exclusion can lead to bitterness or resentment, both of which can have a negative impact on productivity and work quality. It’s best to not let these feelings get the better of you. If you’re feeling excluded, take steps to rectify the causes ASAP.
Taking the solo professional route can have its drawbacks, but by making an effort to proactively resolve them, you’ll gain the awesome opportunity to reap the many benefits associated with remote work.