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5 Common Problems When Working Remotely for the First Time

Arth Limchiu
Project-based Android Books @ https://gumroad.com/arthlimchiu | Be humble, keep learning, and share.
・4 min read

Originally published on my blog

In my previous post, I talked about the 5 benefits when working remotely from a person who used to work at an office job and why it’s wonderful.

This one will be all about the challenges that I’ve encountered and how I overcame them.

Problem #1: Distractions

If you’re working at home, then most likely kids might go near your workspace and do a lot of noises or your parents knocking on your door. It’s quite understandable because most likely, remote working is new to them.

Solution: Have a Space for Work

  • You can renovate or partition your room
  • Invest on some good noise-cancelling headphones
  • You can rent out

It’s best to explain your family, wife, or girlfriend your situation and let them understand that what you do is work and that the only difference is that you're not in the office.

Problem #2: Internet Connection

When working remotely, having a stable and fast internet connection is super important because meetings are held in video calls.

If a lot of people are using your internet at home such as streaming or downloading, it might affect your online meetings. Personally, the only times that I need the internet to be stable are during calls. Other than that, the websites that I frequently go to - StackOverflow, Documentation websites, etc. since I’m a developer, rarely needs a lot of bandwidth to open.

However, it’s quite different if you’re a designer as the websites that you frequently go to contains a lot of imagery.

Solution: Upgrade Your Internet Connection

  • Ask your parents/brother/sister to share the monthly bill
  • If you have a data plan, tether to your phone during calls

You can also tell them 5 minutes before your call to stop streaming and downloading but this can get tiring over time.

Problem #3: Procrastination Is Your Enemy

When working remotely, nobody sees what you do. It’s good that you no longer have that pressure but it’s bad at the same time since you can surf the web all you want.

You open Facebook or Youtube and suddenly time passes by and by the time you’re done it’s been several hours already and you haven’t worked on anything yet.

Solution: Set the Deck in Your Favor

  • Use website blocker apps such as StayFocusd or similar
  • Invest on a comfortable office desk and chair
  • Everything that you need should be within a hand’s reach (notebook, pen, water, etc.)
  • Lessen the amount of steps to start your work

If you set the deck in your favor, then your setting yourself up to win. Schedule your website block apps and make sure you’re comfortable with your workspace. Your computer or laptop should be setup already on your desk and you don’t need to arrange stuff or anything so that it takes a lot less friction to start working.

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity and success and a good way to overcome that is to start your day with a win.

Problem #4: Forgetting to Balance Work and Life

When working remotely, you tend to forget that what you do is work and that the only difference is where you’re working at. Now that it’s easier to start working, you keep on working and working the whole day and you forget that there’s also life outside of work.

Solution: Set to Default or Reset

  • Close EVERYTHING
  • Don’t eat at your desk
  • Breaks are important

If I’m done with work, I literally close everything - Google Chrome, Slack, IDE, etc. I close my laptop as well. It signals my brain that “I’m done for the day”. If you leave them on, you’re tempted to look at it.

It’s also good to take a break from time to time. Tend to your loved ones when you’re on break. I’m still struggling with eating at my desk but I always make the effort not to. The problem with eating at your desk is you're telling yourself that even eating is part of work.

Problem #5: If You’re Stuck, You’re Most Likely on Your Own

When working remotely, you have the flexibility of your time and your colleagues as well. Your work schedules might not divulge so it might be hard to ask for help when you’re stuck. Unlike in an office, you can just go to them in person and ask for their help.

Solution: Important Tasks First, Less Important Tasks After

  • Work on hard problems when your brain is fresh
  • Move on to the next task if you’ve done everything that you could and leave a message in Slack or whatever communication tool that you use within your company

If you’re stuck, you need your brain to be fresh to process all the information that you found to solve the problem. That’s why it’s important to work on the hard problems first so that by the time you’re done, remaining tasks require less effort to do and you’ll be able to finish your work for the day.

Final Thoughts

Working remotely is a wonderful experience but we need to know that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. That’s just how life is. However, if you encounter these problems you now have an idea what to do and how to overcome them and it’s not that hard to do as well.

These are all my personal experience and I hope that it will be valuable for you later on when you start working remotely.

If you think remote working is up for you or you want to give it a try, we do just exactly that at Appetiser App Development. You can check out our openings below.

We’re looking for:

  • Senior Mobile & Web Developers (Cebu/Davao/Manila)
  • Digital Marketing Channel Specialists x 2 (Manila)
    • SEO
    • CRM/E-mail
  • Content Marketers (Manila)
  • Marketing Human Resources (Manila)
  • Marketing Assistant (Manila)
  • HubSpot & Landing Page Developer: APIs/Integrations (Manila)
  • Web Designers: UX/UI (Manila)
  • CRO (Manila)

If you're interested, you can send your CV at joinus@appetiser.com.au.

Discussion (6)

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bootcode profile image
Robin Palotai

I wonder if traffic shaping on a linux router could help pushing back download traffic. The article at digitage.co.uk/rope/BlockingBittor... seems to have a filter, but I would budget a solid day for getting this set up and tested (assuming you have the linux box already on your network).

About Procrastination: In my ebook Programming Without Anxiety I cover six specific reasons of procrastination, along with guidance on avoiding them.

On the website you can get a free sample as well, which addresses five major sources of workspace anxiety. If you like it, subscribe for updates!

As for closing everything at the end of the day: that's one possible strategy, has the advantage that it forces you to leave your work properly cleaned up. But don't forget to push all commits on a working branch beforehand, maybe even send PRs so you are greeted with review comments the next day (which is a good boost to know where to pick up work).

The other benefit is that if reopening everything is cumbersome, you are likely to start looking for shortcuts and optimize the development flow.

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arthlimchiu profile image
Arth Limchiu Author

I read your sample book. The one that I really like and I'm planning to do is the "Do not disturb" one.

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bootcode profile image
Robin Palotai

Good luck! You can soften the message by writing "don't schedule". At Google you could just put "DNS" or "Make time" on the calendar and people got the message.

If the company culture is less receptive to this, you can try adding a more cryptic name, like "task discussion" and reserve a meeting room for uninterrupted time.

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clarity89 profile image
Alex K.

Good points! I would not say that Number 3 procrastination, but more like lack of focus :)

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duffn profile image
Nicholas Duffy • Edited

4 is a big one and one that I continually struggle with. You’ve hit on some important points. Having a space for working and logging off after hours are key.

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arthlimchiu profile image
Arth Limchiu Author

Me too. It's like the consequence of making it easy to work is having a hard time balancing it. Especially, when you enjoy your work.