How to solve the challenges of working from home

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Remote working is part of the ‘new normal’ workplace. But it doesn’t suit everyone all the time. Whether you’re entirely working from home, with its inherent challenges, or spend some of the week in a workplace and the rest at home, it’s not all plain sailing.

As many jobs will have at least some element of remote working into the future, it’s good to try to get it right. Do you recognise any of these WFH challenges? Here are some potential fixes:

Challenges of working from home include uncomfortable working conditions

It can be tricky to carve out a space for working from home. And if you need to work from a sofa or on your bed, chances are you’ve felt the effect on your body. Some recent industry research shows that almost half of people who work from their sofa or bedroom have experienced neck, shoulder or back pain - or worse.

The right equipment can make all the difference between good and bad posture. And putting in the hours in discomfort impacts your mood and ultimately productivity.

Potential solution

Aside from a desk, something that makes the most difference to a makeshift home office is an ergonomic chair for upright posture. Having a separate keyboard or mouse for a laptop can also help, as can a monitor stand. And on our ultimate wish list? A height-adjustable desk for sitting as well as standing.

Your employer has a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure your health, safety and welfare when you’re working. And when it comes to homeworking equipment, they should ask you to carry out a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment at home.

Although they’re not legally obliged to supply you with office furniture, they may see it’s a good idea if it helps you do your job properly and comfortably. So it's definitely worth checking.

WFH challenge: You can’t unplug

This is one of the biggest challenges of working from home. Living and working in the same place can make it hard to separate home and work life. And although digital technology has made it so much easier to do your job remotely, the always-on culture can be a problem. It can influence mental wellbeing and can also lead to burnout, stress and even depression.

At the start of the pandemic, it seemed more acceptable for employers to ask their employees to do overtime. The UK was in a crisis mode, after all. But now Covid-19 is here to stay it’s time for employers to push their teams’ rights to disconnect in the evening to the top of the to-do list.

Solution for helping you unplug

What makes a real difference is having a cut-off time outside office hours so you don’t feel the pressure to answer work-related calls, emails or messages when you’ve clocked off for the day.

At HR GO we know that the best employers are careful to maintain these boundaries. If you find it hard to set your own boundaries, ask your employer to set a definitive finishing time so work life doesn’t bleed into personal life.

WFH challenge: Your motivation levels are rock bottom

No manager to look over your shoulder keeping you on task sounds like a dream. But it’s not always simple to just ‘get on with it’. If you're an extrovert, it can be emotionally taxing to be working so much in isolation, and it can affect your concentration.

In addition, when working from home you don’t get the same level of face-to-face interaction with managers and colleagues. Those spontaneous moments where you can form connections and develop ideas are also missing. This can really impact your motivation. 

Solutions for low motivation levels

Having regular and frequent check-ins on how things are going can boost motivation. This is especially if you know you have clear and specific goals to help you see you’re making progress.

If your employer doesn’t already have a scheme in place, ask for remote mentoring. Regular chats with a more senior employee can be a great source of guidance and advice. And good employers know that the stakes are high if they don’t focus on staff emotional health. You can also read our tips on how to feel connected with your team if you start a job remotely. You can also try our happiness hacks which work just as well WFH as they do in the workplace.

It's important to focus not only for the things that help you get your job done each day. But also things that make working life better, more manageable and more productive for you. If WFH is going to play a part in your life for the foreseeable future, try and get all the extra bits of help you can.

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