WFH or in-person? Learn about these 4 challenges facing remote workers

If you’re evaluating whether you should work remotely, it’s wise to weigh how challenges might impact your role, career options and mental health.

Image: iStock/frantic00

Remote work has been on the rise for American workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While remote work may offer a much-needed work-life balance for many, it can also present some potential challenges that could impact your career. 

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There are many advantages to having more time at home, but for many who have been thrown into working remotely, it has exposed them to increased stress and impacted their mental health. Working from home poses risks and isn’t for everyone. 

Here are four potential challenges that should be factored into your decision to choose whether working from home is the right choice for you in the long term. 

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What does remote mean?

The word remote means having very little connection with or relationship with others. Working remotely puts workers at a distance, usually at home, working away from their co-workers and leaders. This has advantages and disadvantages that workers should carefully weigh when deciding to work from home.

Here are four challenges faced by those who work from home.

1. Less in-person human interaction

Working from home can seem exhilarating at the start but can begin to wax and wane once there’s less in-person communication. Depending on the type of work you’re used to and how independent you are, working remotely can pose obstacles. Some people are rejuvenated by face-to-face interaction, and while video conferencing provides some of this, it may not be enough. It can seem very isolating and stressful transitioning to working remotely if you’ve spent many years in an on-premise job talking with people every day. Reduced face-to-face interaction can lead to frustration, anxiety and depression. 

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SEE: Juggling remote work with kids’ education is a mammoth task. Here’s how employers can help (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

2. Feeling disconnected from the business

Adding to increased feelings of isolation and higher levels of anxiety and depression, there can be an heightened feeling of being disconnected from peers, leaders and the business in general. This can have a negative impact on how you or others view your roles in relation to the overall vision and objectives of the company. It’s estimated that as much as 53% of remote workers even have concerns about being left out of in-office team meetings or other activities. These feelings can increase feelings of isolation and doubt about your value, leading to a drop in motivation and productivity, and can impact your mental health. 

3. Decreased motivation

Feeling disconnected from those in the office and the effects of isolation and stress can significantly decrease your motivation and productivity. “Why do all this work if nobody will notice?” This can pose additional challenges if it starts to impact your workload or work quality. 

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SEE: Burned out on burnout: Companies may be trying too hard to ease employee stress (TechRepublic)

4. Impact on career advancement

Remote workers may have a fear of being overlooked for career opportunities. Some might argue that those who have to go the extra mile by heading into the office each day and forgoing the option to have a work-life balance should be compensated with more opportunities for promotion. How company leaders view and act on this is a matter of mindset and policy. The key to making the right and best decision for you is whether working remotely provides a work-life balance that meets your goals and needs. 

It’s important to know who you are, how you work best, and if these are the types of things that might occur when working remotely. Make sure you are honest with yourself when you weigh remote work options before you take the leap. Remote work isn’t for everyone, and while it can be highly beneficial and rewarding for many, consider all challenges before jumping in with both feet. 

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