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Top 5 Mistakes When You Work from Home

— January 19, 2021

If and when the COVID-19 pandemic passes, it’s highly likely that the shift it caused to our work routines is likely to linger on.

As we approach the end of 2020, the global Covid-19 pandemic continues to reshape our lifestyles. Nowhere is this change more noticeable than with our work situation. As the world remains truly in the grip of the dreaded second wave of infections, the work from home situation COVID-19 has forced on so many of us looks like it’s here to stay. However, mixing the professional and personal can easily lead to bad habits that can negatively impact both spheres of our lives, so let’s look at the biggest mistakes and find some work from home guidelines to build our own tower of power for optimized productivity.

1. Working with a Sloppy Setup

Before the pandemic hit, working from home for most of us meant answering emails on a laptop in bed. However, with so many of us still working full time, it’s important to put the time and effort into creating a workable home office to help keep productivity high and ensure that we’re maintaining a healthy compartmentalization between work and play. Investing in a proper desk and ergonomic office chair will reduce fatigue on your back and help you get in the zone when it comes to completing tasks. Pro-tip: try positioning your desk against a wall to minimize distractions and keep your mind focused on the job at hand.

2. Splitting Your Shift

Without a trip to and from the office to physically demarcate work and home life, we can all too easily lose our routines and end up working odd hours as the line between personal and professional blurs: the working day gets portioned out between odd jobs around the house, grocery runs, and time spent with partners or housemates. Avoid this by creating a routine and sticking with it whenever possible. Set an alarm to get up and log in to work at the same time every day, and likewise set a time to put work down and stick to it – you don’t need to be answering work emails all day and night to prove that you work from home, and if you don’t draw a line between your professional and personal life, you’re likely to feel less fulfilled by both.

3. Oversharing Work from Home Online

Collage of a woman’s face, a camera lens, and various social media symbols; image by Geralt, via
Collage of a woman’s face, a camera lens, and various social media symbols; image by Geralt, via

With bars and restaurants shuttered up and medical experts advising sticking to our bubbles, our natural craving for human contact is satiated more than ever by our social media connections. Additionally, with much less to do in our leisure hours – and no snaps of holidays abroad or fancy restaurant meals to share – the temptation may be strong to share details of how you work from home online. As well-intentioned as it may be, pre-pandemic wisdom still stands that it’s best not to put your work life on display on social media, as what may be a funny or whimsical aside to you may constitute a breach of employee confidentiality to your HR manager. Play it safe and, once again, keep work and home separate.

4. Radio Silence

You’ve got your work ready, your head down, and you’re making good progress with the day’s assignments. All great, but don’t become so involved that you neglect lines of communication back to your colleagues and supervisors. Staying in touch with your employer lets them know that you’re still on the same page, and could be as easy as emailing your superior at the end of every day with a list of what you’ve accomplished. Just like in the office, you’re still part of a team, and maintaining visibility means better communication. It also helps your accomplishments stand out when they might otherwise get overlooked, and work from home questions may be asked about your productivity.

5. Mixing Work and Life Data

Many of us who work from home during lockdown could be remoting into our regular office terminal, or at the very least, will probably be logged into some proprietary program crucial to our work. Ideally, we would all have dedicated computers just for work, but since that’s not always the case, it’s critical to build a digital wall around all our working data. Ensure you have all your work tabs up in a separate browser, especially if you’re remoting and your personal activity could be observed by an administrator. Don’t store work files in personal folders, and make sure work profiles are all passworded. Too often, children or a partner can accidentally access and tamper with this data, leading to results that range from embarrassing to downright disastrous, so keep work stuff tight under lock and key at all times.

Conclusion: Take Work from Home Seriously

If and when the COVID-19 pandemic passes, it’s highly likely that the shift it caused to our work routines is likely to linger on: employees may like the convenience and lack of commute, while companies may decide that the money saved on overhead from not running an office makes a remote workforce better value for the money. In any case, avoiding common mistakes means better productivity at work and freer and more fulfilling leisure time. Have you had to overcome any obstacles to perfecting your work from home setup, or can you not wait for the office to open back up? Let us know in the comment section below.

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