Topic 5 | Real Talk Challenges of Remote Working

Dealing with the Challenges of Remote Working

As with anything worth doing, remote work has some inherent challenges. A lot of people have overcome these obstacles and have benefited from remote work. So can you.

Here are some of the most common challenges remote workers face and how to deal with them:


Family and Friends May Not Support You

Remote work is still a fairly new concept for most people, so your immediate family and friends might not understand why you’ve decided to make the change. Change is not easy. A lot is unknown when in transition to doing something new and the newness of things can cause fear and doubt to a lot of people – to you and your immediate family.

Do remember that their doubts about your decision is mostly due to their concern. They simply don’t want to see you get hurt.

One way of dealing with this problem is to be quiet about your decision to work remotely. That way, you can ease yourself in to your new set-up and build confidence rather than spend valuable time and energy explaining your decision to everyone around you. By then, you’ll have strengthened your resolve and will be able to counter everyone’s reservations much more effectively. If this isn’t possible, educate your family and friends about remote work. Send them articles and videos about the subject and share a little bit about what you do. Most people fear what they don’t understand, so if you can get your loved ones to understand how remote work goes, you’ll all have an easier time.


Investing in Tools and Resources

It can be expensive to get into remote work since you’ll need tools like a laptop, a headset, and a stable Internet connection.

The good news is that you can acquire these tools gradually. You can begin by purchasing the minimum requirements or by getting them secondhand. There are also installment plans for big-ticket items like laptops, so be sure to take advantage of those.

As you earn more, do upgrade your tools. Think of them not just as expenses, but rather, as an investment in your productivity.


Finding Your Own Client

Remote work is like a business. If you can’t market and sell yourself well, you won’t find clients. Without clients, you won’t earn money.

If you’re new to remote work, you may want to sign up at an agency. Provided that you meet their qualifications, they can connect you to legitimate clients and a steady stream of jobs. More importantly, a reputable agency can protect you from unscrupulous clients who neglect to pay or scam their workers.


Being Alone

As a remote worker, you will be on your own most of the time. Unless you find a mentor, you will have to make your own way.

You can overcome this obstacle by proactively communicating with your remote team / workmates. Ask questions, offer to help, or sound off when there’s an ongoing discussion.

You can also join Facebook groups and online forums so you can interact with other remote workers and benefit from their advice.


Limited Social Interaction

Humans are social beings and having to work alone most of the time can feel isolating.

Fortunately, this can be easily remedied by connecting with your friends online, or better yet, in person! Once you finish with the day’s tasks, meet up with your friends. Join like-minded groups on Facebook. Attend conferences and seminars to meet and connect with new people.

The possibilities are endless.


Constant Worries about Security and Payment

Freelancers are especially concerned with the constant stream of jobs and pay since a lot of them never know when the next client will come in. They can have months where they’re flush with work (and cash) and the same periods without either of those.

The remedy for this is to align yourself with stable businesses. Bear in mind that most new businesses fail within 2 years of operations, so when choosing between clients, go with the one who’s been operating for more than five years.

Partnering with a reputable agency is also a good solution. Agencies have a pipeline of clients and enforceable contracts. If your contract with one client ends, they can give you another client and make sure that you always get paid. Just make sure that you partner with one that’s registered in the Philippines and provides a payment guarantee clause in their contracts. This means that they’ll pay you if a client defaults or goes bankrupt.


Communication and Collaboration

Online communication can pose new challenges to aspiring remote workers. It’s difficult to collaborate when you don’t see the person face-to-face.

There are no non-verbal cues and you can’t tell if they really mean what they’re saying (or typing).
Plus, cultural differences can add another layer of complexity.

When working remotely, ensure that you:

  • Over Communicate. After a voice call, draw up a summary of the meeting and send it to your client to verify that you understood things properly.
  • When you can (and if all the participants agree), record calls for reviewing later.
  • Share your screen when discussing your work.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you don’t understand something, say things like, “Sorry I don’t understand. Can you say that again?,” “I am not sure if I’m getting this right, but do you mean… ?,” or “ I got up to XYZ, but the rest of what you said beyond that wasn’t clear.”
  • Watch movies and youtube videos featuring actors from your client’s home country so you can be more familiar with their accent and diction. It could take about 2 weeks for you to get used to their accent, so don’t freak out if you can barely understand your client on the first day.

When you start to work remotely, you will make a lot of mistakes.  Learn from these, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.


Power Outages and Unstable Internet

Unfortunately, this is one obstacle you don’t have much control over. You can simply prepare for such emergencies.

For starters, two internet connections are recommended in case one proves unreliable. A UPS can also come in handy when you work remotely.

If all else fails, try going to an internet cafe or co-working space.