Life Challenges for the Remote Worker

By Juliana Kenny June 15, 2012

Let’s take a step back from our seven screens for a second to ask ourselves a question: Are we as productive at home as we are in the office? The ability to work while on the road or at home has broadened the possibilities for employees and businesses to extend the scope of their productivity. With the advance of the bring-your-own-device trend, the world of the remote worker is unlike anything it has been in the last several years. But, as with anything else that looks so good on the outside, it’s important to examine how beneficial it is at the core.

Of course, we’d all like to answer “yes,” to the above question, but consider a few points about basic human activity before you respond. As a remote worker, there is the need to prove oneself while not in the physical office – to show you are online, engaged, and producing work as if you are in the office. This need can create some issues for the employee, but there are ways to curb them.

If you are a deadline-oriented person, the remote life might be tricky. If you work a combination of in-the-office and mobile workdays, and you are a deadline-driven person, this type of lifestyle might be difficult for you to master. Those of us who work best under pressure, are suddenly relieved of this pressure to get something done by 5 pm, or to have a project accomplished by EOD Friday because we can ‘just do it on Saturday,’ therefore we put it off until the last possible minute. Procrastination is good for no one, and it lessens productivity.

To curb the procrastination tendency, forbid yourself to hit the “snooze” button on that alert, or simply set more realistic deadlines. If you have the means, create an office in your living space. This office does not have to be a physical room, but it is the location to which you go to work only. Recent news in the mobile workforce arena published surveys that found that “nearly nine out of 10 (84 percent) of traveling executives and managers reported that they cannot work effectively on collaborative projects while on the go,” so part of this self-project management should be deciding which projects to work on in the office, and which to work on at home.

Calm down with all the devices. I know we talk a lot about which devices are best to use for ‘x,’ ‘y,’ and ‘z’ tasks, but since this article is from the point of view of The Skeptic, we’re going to go ahead and say, second guess your device frenzy. You don’t actually need your iPod, iPhone, iPad, and computer on the train, do you? (If you have ‘device frenzy’ you just said ‘yes.’) Device frenzy is not yet an officially sanctioned disease by the American Psychological Association, but it’s only 2012.

Keeping your devices synced is a solid way to help yourself out. If you’ve got your phone and computer synced up on whichever platform you work over, you will be less likely to miss something important should you be on-the-move or away from your primary device.

Maintain a balanced work/life ratio. The easiest thing in the world to do is to check your email from your phone, laptop, or tablet while on your off-hours simply to stem the tides of work that greet you the next morning, but this urge does nothing to improve mental health. An academic study published on the health and well-being of remote and mobile workers lists the potential psychosocial factors including stress, role conflict, relationships with co-workers, job satisfaction, and quality of life.

You can maintain a better work/life balance by designating certain times of day when you absolutely do not check email, make phone calls, or communicate with coworkers. For those of us who are the most egregious offenders, this effort might require that similar to overcoming a physical addiction: Tell people you value that you are going offline so they hold you to that decision.

This issue also ties in to the first point about setting realistic deadlines. If you are able to accomplish something in a reasonable amount of time, you will feel comfortable leaving work for the day, even if it’s simply moving into the next room.




Edited by Stefanie Mosca

TechZone360 Managing Editor

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