4 common mistakes people make while working from home—and how to avoid them

Whether you’re transitioning to working from home or have been doing it for a while, make sure you don't fall into these common working from home mistakes.

April 27, 2020
Angelique Parungao

Work from home is fast becoming a norm offered by many companies today. Of course, the freedom to work from anywhere comes with an array of benefits: cutting the cost and time of commutes, working in the comfort of your own home and having fewer distractions, to name a few. However, this doesn’t come by without its own set of challenges. With bed, TV and snacks within arm’s reach, it can require a high amount of discipline and focus to ensure that you stay engaged and productive with your tasks. Falling into bad habits can start a slippery slope that damages your working life.

Whether you’re transitioning to working from home for the first time or have been doing it for a while and need a refresher, let’s take a look at four common mistakes people make and our top tips on how to avoid them. By tackling these, we can ensure that you have a successful and enriching experience despite being dispersed from your team.

Mistake #1: Not taking breaks

In a typical office setting, colleagues can pass by your desk for lunch breaks or small chats throughout your day. However, when working remotely alone, it’s easy to get sucked into your tasks to the point where you forget about the time. Come the end of the day, you may realize you’ve forgotten to have lunch or take a single moment to look up from your laptop.

How to avoid it: Stretch, move, connect

Schedule regular breaks for yourself where you leave your workstation for a while to eat, grab a drink, stretch or take a quick walk. We recommend adding this straight into your calendar, so you’ll get an automatic reminder and have time already blocked out in your schedule where no one can book calls with you. Try to really tune out from work during these moments — you’ll find that taking breaks will actually make you more productive when you come back, as the mind can’t work optimally by staying “on” all the time. On top of that, why not reach out to your colleagues to remind them, too? Chances are, they’ll need a break as well.

Mistake #2: Procrastinating

For some, having the freedom to work from home can lead to a sharp drop in productivity, thanks to the lack of a concrete work routine and no colleagues or bosses around to visibly check what you’re up to. When left unmanaged, procrastination leads to tasks falling behind schedule and ultimately hurts the output of both you and your team as a whole.

How to avoid it: Stick to a schedule and create to-do lists

A great way to retain that workplace routine is to act exactly as you would do if you were going into work physically. Do you usually start at 9am in the office? Make sure you’ve woken up, showered, eaten breakfast and are at your workstation by that time. Start the day by using a task management tool to create clear to-do lists with clearly marked deadlines for yourself. Even better, share these targets and progress updates with your team to boost the sense of accountability and ensure you don’t fall off track.

Mistake #3: Not having face-to-face contact

Working remotely can quickly become a lonely experience, as there are fewer opportunities to interact with people throughout the work day. You might find yourself ending the day without having spoken to or seen anyone. In the long term, this will not only harm your productivity levels but can take a huge toll on your emotional wellbeing.

How to avoid it: Connect through video calls

Allotting time to do video calls with your teammates can help maintain that human touch despite working from different places. Where possible, move away from chats and opt for video calls where you can see each other’s body language and reactions in real time. Aside from work-related discussions, why not boost that connection further by hosting virtual team-building activities such as lunch or happy hour via video call to ensure everyone still has the same physical workplace interaction, even if doing so online.

Mistake #4: Not using the right tools

When there is a physical distance between you and your teammates, this can pose as a barrier to optimal team collaboration and task progress visibility. Certain tools such as email or commercial communication tools do not provide the right features to ensure everyone in your team is kept in the loop, or to allow for operations such as task assignment to happen seamlessly. When this occurs, you might find yourself being less productive or connected to each other due to the limitations of a tool that’s not truly suitable for your work.

How to avoid it:

Ideally, opt for a digital solution that can fully replicate the tools and environment you would usually get from your physical workplace - such as the ability to hold team meetings, collaborate in real time, socialize across teams, update on task progress, brainstorm dynamically together and more. Finding solutions that offer all these functions in one hub ensures that you can gather your colleagues and enable work to happen in a centralized place without the need to buy and juggle various systems.

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