From Home Office to Digital Nomad: Navigating the Challenges of Working Remotely

More and more people are finding themselves working remotely, as digital nomads, from the comforts of their homes. While there are certainly many benefits to remote work, this type of work environment does intrinsically come with its own set of unique challenges.

In this article, we will explore some of the most common setbacks of working remotely and provide tips on how to tackle them, as understanding these challenges can help you be more successful and productive in your business endeavors.

From Home Office to Digital Nomad: Navigating the Challenges of Working Remotely
In this guide, you’ll learn:
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8 challenges of working remotely and how to fix them

8 Challenges of Working Remotely and How To Overcome Them

1. Managing Your Time 

How to manage your time effectively is definitely one of the major challenges of remote work jobs and one that most digital nomads struggle with or are at least extremely familiar with.

The importance of time management can’t be understated, but it becomes even more prominent when working from home. A lot of problems regarding time management that wouldn't be present at the office can rear their ugly head when working remotely.

This usually happens when you’re trying to juggle both your work and home responsibilities at the same time. Whether it’s doing the dishes, laundry, or simply tidying up your place – all these things can “eat” into your work hours. You could end up working late into the night and completely throw your work schedule off balance. 

Distractions are another reason for mismanaging your time when working remotely. By distractions, we mean things like: 

  • Spending a great portion of your work time on social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like) 
  • Checking websites that don’t have anything to do with your work 
  • Watching TV or playing video games

Although you can easily get distracted when working in regular offices, too, there’s one significant difference when working remote jobs – the lack of external pressure to keep you on track. With all of those things close at hand and no “peer pressure” (i.e., colleagues and managers nearby), it’s much easier to get lost in unproductive activities and completely lose track of time. 

Now, don’t worry because it’s not as bad as it may seem at first glance. Here are a couple of things that you can do, as a digital nomad, to improve the way you manage your time:

remote work challenge of managing your time

Create a Time Management Strategy

Creating and adhering to a time management strategy is one of the best ways to improve your overall time management. You could do this by implementing an existing time management technique into your work routine or inventing a new one that suits your needs. 

Invest in a Time-Tracking App

Time-tracking apps are becoming a staple of remote work, and for good reason. They allow you to track time at work (i.e., the number of hours they’ve spent working) and gain a deeper insight into how long certain tasks take to complete. You can then use this data to improve your productivity and efficiency when completing work-related tasks. 

Additionally, time management apps like My Hours allow their users to create detailed time reports (for those “pesky” clients or bosses), calculate project profitability (meaning, is the project even worth your time?), create and send invoices, and more.   

Set Up a To-Do List

Creating a to-do list is another sure-fire way that you can utilize to improve time management and your daily organization skills and counter the challenges of working remotely. 

It’s relatively simple to do, and it basically boils down to writing down a list of your daily tasks and then completing them. You can use a whiteboard, a piece of paper, your phone’s notes, or whatever you feel like to write down your daily to-dos. 

2. Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle and related health problems aren’t fully exclusive to remote workers. The negative impact of this type of lifestyle can also affect people who work in a regular office. But, as you’ll see throughout this guide, some challenges tend to overlap. 

Working from home (or from an office) can cause people to develop bad habits and fall into what's popularly called a sedentary lifestyle, “championed” by the lack of physical activity. That can further cause a lot of different health problems, both mental and physical. 

However, remote workers have a bit of an advantage when it comes to dealing with or preventing issues caused by sedentary lifestyles, as opposed to regular office workers. This advantage mostly boils down to:

  • Not having to commute to work – which translates to additional free time that remote workers have at their disposal.
  • Having the option to install some equipment at home that can counteract a sedentary lifestyle –  examples include treadmill desks, specially designed chairs, various equipment for stretching exercises, and more.

How to Reduce the Negative Consequences of Sedentary Life

With the additional free time slot you have as a remote worker, combating the negative effects of a sedentary life requires only an attitude change and a pinch of self-motivation (and some exercise). This means you can reduce the risk of developing such a lifestyle altogether.

Here are a few things that you can do to achieve that:

  • Take regular walks - Use the extra time you don’t have to spend commuting to go for a walk, especially if it's a sunny day. This will not only help you with vitamin D retention, but it’s also an easy way to get some exercise and combat indigestion.
  • Get enough sleep - Just because you’re working from home doesn't mean you get to stay up every night. Try to go to bed early and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • Exercise - Join a pilates or yoga class, get a gym membership card, or, if that’s not your thing, just use Google to find exercises and workout plans you can do at home. 
  • Get specialized equipment - Although some types of equipment could be pricey, investing in it will be beneficial in the long term. Equipment such as standing or treadmill desks, balance pads or slant boards, ergonomically designed chairs, and more could do wonders when tackling the issues of sedentary life.

3. Technical Hitches

Technical problems are another one of the most common challenges of working remotely. There’s nothing worse than experiencing an internet outage during an important Zoom call. Well, maybe there is, but you get the drift. 

The internet outage can only be second to problems with your computer, such as viruses and other software or hardware issues or failures, and, unlike at the office, there’s no IT Department that you can ask for help. In fact, more likely than not, you will have to figure out a way to deal with the problem on your own.

Now, if you are good with computers – a boomer way of saying tech-savvy – you should be fine. But for those who aren’t, here are a couple of things you can do to mitigate the chances of  technical issues occurring and negatively affecting your work performance:

  • Submit a request to your company’s technical team to help you set up your work system (i.e., everything you need to perform your job remotely);
  • Do an occasional performance check of your systems to ensure everything is in working condition. 
  • Do the research on internet providers in your area and go with the one with the best review, regardless of whether they’re more expensive than their competitors. If your job requires a stable internet connection, spend the extra money and get the best provider you can. It will be more than worth it in the long run.
  • Only use your work computer for work. The chances of catching a virus or causing a serious malfunction will be significantly lower if you use your work computer for the sole purpose of working. 
  • Always have a backup plan. If your internet goes out, you could use a mobile hotspot device or your cell phone as a means to connect online. Alternatively, you could run to a nearby coffee house or ask your neighbors to help you out. And, if your means allow for it, try to keep a backup computer/laptop. It doesn’t have to be top-of-the-line, it just has to be enough to carry you through in the case of an emergency.  

4. Having a Team in Different Time Zones

Remote work has completely changed the job market, as it allows employers to hire workers from all around the globe. 

While this practice has several benefits, it also comes with some additional challenges, like syncing with your entire team if they all live on different continents or in different time zones

But don’t worry; if you keep the following in mind, you should be just fine:

  • Ask for meetings or regular catch-ups – For example, you can ask for or schedule weekly meetings at specific times to go over work tasks and other project objectives. There are different tools you can use to schedule meetings, like Google Meet, Zoom, and others. This can help you stay in touch with everybody at work and get updates on the company’s “comings and goings.” 
  • Accept the asynchronous communication. If members of your team are located in different time zones, there’s a huge possibility that some of them will be waking up in the morning while others are turning in for the night. For that reason, don’t expect an immediate response from your colleagues and work towards accepting such asynchronous communication.
  • Use the employee handbook or ask company higher-ups to create one – As a document that contains information about the company's mission, policies, and expectations, an employee handbook can be an invaluable tool for remote workers. This means that whenever you’re unsure about what to do next, and there’s no one to ask for help (e.g., your teammates are in a different time zone and asleep), you can always refer to the employee handbook and continue with your work.

5. Overworking Yourself

By now, you’ve probably found out that when both your personal and work obligations are set under the same roof, it can become difficult to turn off for the day. It might seem like there’s always a work task that needs additional attention. 

This is such a common phenomenon that researchers from Latin America decided to do a study on it and concluded that overworking is a frequent behavior in remote workers.

So, the question now becomes how to deal with, avoid, or completely prevent overworking? Here’s what we found:

  • Make plans/set appointments for after your work hours – Making plans to leave the house and do something after work is a great way to get yourself out of your home office and stop being in that “work” mindset. You can plan to do basically anything, from hanging out with your friends to going to the gym or having a brisk walk. The important part here is to leave your home/office and lower the risk of overworking yourself and causing burnout.
  • Have reminders to take a break – At the regular office, there’ll always be someone that’ll come around and remind you it’s time to take a break, but at home, there’s no one to do that but you. Try to set up reminders for your “break time” and include them in your daily work schedule.
  • Inform other team members/colleagues about “leaving work” – Work is infinite, and there is always something else to be done. That’s why it’s good to have a clear line of communication with your team and tell them when you plan to turn in for the day. This will help set daily expectations and hopefully stop your team members from sending you 2-hour-long tasks 20 minutes before you log out from Slack.
  • Once you’re off, be off! – Don’t let the feeling that you could have completed more pull you back into working late. There will always be something else to work on, but if it’s not time-sensitive or extremely important, it could probably wait until tomorrow. The fix for this one is simple – once you’re done for the day, that’s it, stop working! Don’t stay on Slack (or other work-related platforms), don’t check your email, just stop!
  • Have set boundaries between your living and your workspace – Not everyone will have a big enough place to have a fully-functional and separate home office space, but, nevertheless, it’s important to try and separate your personal and your workspace inside of your home (however big it may be). If that’s not an option, try moving your work computer out of sight to prevent the impulse of “coming back to work.”
  • After you’re done for the day, turn off all work notifications – This one is simple to do and can easily put a stop to you logging back on just to do a “few things” (which almost always turns into additional hours of work).

6. Interruptions / Distractions

Distractions at your home office are a bit different, as there are no colleagues interrupting your workflow. But that doesn't mean it’s all fine and dandy. On the contrary, things can get a little dicey and over-complicated if you have children, pets, or other loved ones milling about your home while you’re just trying to work. The only thing that you can do is set up some ground rules and hope for the best. Here’s what you can do:

  • Inform the people in your household that you are working and should not be disturbed – This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people just don’t do that. 
  • Explain that interruptions can negatively affect your focus and productivity – Obviously, if you have a toddler, this conversation is gonna be a bit difficult, to say the least. This is more of a conversation between you and your SO.
  • If you have young kids, get a nanny or send them to kindergarten if possible – There’s no explaining to young kids that you are busy at the moment and can’t play with them. Try to mitigate that with outside help (i.e., a nanny) or send them to kindergarten.
  • Make a break for it – Family life and work life can both be stressful in their own unique ways and dealing with them in a single space can add to that stress immensely. There are a lot of coworking spaces available (almost anywhere), so if you can, rent a desk at one of those places. And, if that’s not an option, a local library will always do the trick.

7. Feeling Like Part of the Team

When you work alone from your home office, it’s difficult to form real connections with your co-workers, which in turn can have an unpredictable effect on team cohesion, unity, and overall productivity

Luckily for everybody, modern technology has strived and managed (for the most part) to ameliorate communication issues and the “feeling of being out of the loop” when working from home. The solution here is to use platforms like Teams, Slack, Basecamp, and others that allow individual team members to chat about anything, not only work-related stuff.

8. Loneliness 

A study done in Japan showed that people who work remotely four or more days a week are more likely to report feelings of loneliness than those who work out of an office. Humans are social beings, so not having enough interactions with other people can have a negative impact on our health, job performance, and overall quality of life.

And, if you feel like you are not getting sufficient social interaction at your job, here are a couple of things that you can do outside of work to mitigate that:

  • Go out to lunch or dinner with your family and/or friends.
  • Try to work remotely outside of your home. If the weather is nice, go to your local park and work from there (obviously, if the nature of your work allows it). Alternatively, check out coffee shops, work-sharing spaces, and such, where there are other people present.
  • Once in a while, call up your colleagues and try to chat with them about anything that’s not specifically work-related.

5 Most Trending Remote Jobs 

With the rise of remote work and the widespread use of digital technologies and tools, more and more companies depend on remote workers/digital nomads in order to fulfill some, if not all, of their workforce needs. 

This shift towards remote work has opened up a whole new world of job opportunities, allowing people to work from anywhere in the world. 

But, employees are not the only ones that benefit from remote work – companies profit as well. They can get access to a worldwide “talent pool” of employees, lower their costs by not having to pay for office space and other similar expenses, and more.

With almost infinite potential for growth, remote work, despite various challenges, is taking the world by storm. Here’s a list of some top trending remote jobs, just to give you an idea of the types of jobs that can be done remotely and the required qualifications for those jobs.

5 most trending remote jobs

1. Freelance Content Writers and Copywriters

Freelance content writers and copywriters are in high demand, as almost every business has, to some extent, some type of online presence in the form of:

  • Websites; 
  • Blogs; 
  • Social media; 
  • Advertising (through online or other types of ads);

As far as qualifications for content writers go, they vary a lot. It all depends on the industry and the specific nature of companies that hire content writers. But, in general, content writers should have the following qualifications:

  • Strong writing skills;
  • Good research skills;
  • At least basic knowledge/understanding of SEO;
  • Creative thinking;
  • Great attention to detail;

2. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants are another one of the highly sought-after remote job positions. Virtual assistants can do many things, but their job usually includes answering messages on various social media platforms, responding to emails, and similar tasks.

In some cases, they may also find themselves assisting with video content, a growing medium in today’s digital landscape. By using helpful tools like VEED’s auto subtitle generator or video caption generator, they can easily add subtitles to video files, thus making them more accessible and helping to reach a broader audience. It not only streamlines their work, but it can also significantly enhance the impact of their client’s content.

As for the qualifications required to be a virtual assistant, for the most part, they are as follows:

  • High organizational skills;
  • Exceptional communication skills;
  • Proficiency with various digital tools and a good overall level of technological familiarity;
  • Attention to detail;
  • Flexibility and at least a modicum of time management skills;
  • Good at customer service;
  • Administration skills;

3. Social Media Managers

Social media managers, as the name suggests, manage social media accounts. Because of the intrinsic nature of social media (it’s online), this is probably one of the jobs that makes the most sense to do remotely/from a home office.

Qualifications for social media managers most commonly include:

  • Strong communication skills;
  • Strong understating of social media platforms;
  • Ability to think creatively and outside of the box;
  • Familiarity with best practices when it comes to social media;
  • An understating of data analytics and various digital tools that perform such functions (usually related to the number of likes, views, comments, and more in regards to social media posts);
  • Knowledge of digital and social media marketing;

4. Software Developer or Engineer

With the advancement in technology, especially the speed with which we can send information online (read 5G), developers and software engineers no longer have to sit in a stuffy office and do their coding from there. They can do their work from anywhere in the world and simply send it in at the end of each day or at regular predetermined intervals.  

Required/desired qualifications for software developers or engineers are typically:

  • Strong programming skills and proficiency in at least one programming language (e.g., Java, Python, or C++);
  • Knowledge of software development methodologies;
  • Problem-solving skills and attention to detail;

5. Graphic Designer

With so much content being posted online for various purposes, being a graphic designer has never been more profitable and in demand. Almost every company in the world has a need for some sort of graphical design (logos, promotional purposes, websites, and more). 

And, with the rise of remote work, graphic designers can find jobs anywhere in the world. The same goes for businesses looking for designers, as they now have an entire world to search for that talent that fits their company’s culture and mission.

To find a job as a graphic designer, one should possess the following qualifications:

  • High knowledge of one or more graphic design software (Adobe Photoshop, Canva, Visme, and the like) 
  • Creative thinking and understanding of the creative process;
  • Knowledge about branding and marketing through visual content;
  • Understanding design principles;