The global COVID-19 pandemic changed the world of business as we know it. As many people became remote workers, they discovered that they could use their talent, drive and hustle to create a thriving business of their own. But it can take trial and error to figure out the best strategies to make sure your business is as productive and successful at home as in an office.
Remote work has its advantages, but remote workers can develop negative work from home habits
Remote work has plenty of advantages for business owners and employees alike: no more long commute time to the office, "flex time", more time for different household tasks, and more. But it is important to stay productive and healthy! So, whether you’re just starting out and want to make sure you’re headed for success, or have been in business for a while and want to break bad habits, this list is a great place to understand the ten things you need to stop doing right now!
10 bad work from home habits and how to avoid them
1. Forgetting to celebrate the little things
Many remote workers enjoy the increased productivity, lack of commute and lack of other little grievances, but working from home can also be surprisingly isolating. There’s no one gathered around the water cooler to talk to, and this is especially difficult when working through a tricky problem.
Celebrate small victories with your employees, even when working from home
Instead of talking to yourself or your cat, create a casual chat channel and encourage your employees to post their wins, no matter how small! Did they hit their goals? Have a really productive brainstorming session? Reach out to a new contact? All of those are wins to be celebrated! Doing so will remind your team how important their small wins are and encourage them to stay motivated and continue reaching for the next goal!
2. Isolating yourself from your team
The office environment offers great bonding opportunities: talking about your plans over a cup of coffee, running into colleagues or going out for dinner after work. When working from home, you need to create new socialization habits for your team. Build in time to socialize and brainstorm, such as dedicated coffee talk, quiet time, or rubber ducking sessions. Yup, rubber ducking, you read that right! Rubber ducking is the process by which one talks at someone about a problem until they come to a breakthrough on their own. Rubber ducking is an extremely valuable practice. Morning coffee and pleasantries are also important for team cohesion, but opportunities can be scarce when working from home. So sometimes you’ll have to schedule socialization to make sure it happens remotely.
Maintain contact with your coworkers throughout the week!
Create a once-a-week online event where everyone brings a drink of choice and a snack and encourage organic casual conversations, such as talking about the newest Netflix show or video game!
3. Having the same digital space for employees, clients, and personal communication
Make sure your digital space is properly separated and delineated. Due to the nature of the internet, the boundaries of space can feel fuzzy. It’s important to make sure you have separate communication channels for each part of your business and each part of your life.
Keep the different aspects of your work separated
While it can be time consuming to learn a new platform, having different communication platforms for your family, friends, employees and clients is invaluable to creating a sense of separation between them all. It helps make sure you stay professional by not mixing personal communications and work on the same platform, and it helps prevent casual brainstorming between employees and clients who are expecting a polished final product.
4. Working from the living room or your bedroom
Just as important as separating your digital workspaces is carving out a physical workspace separate from the rest of your life, especially if you don’t have a home office. Your employees and clients will expect and appreciate a private space where they can speak freely and confidentially during video calls or phone calls. And could benefit from separating your physical spaces for work and the rest of your life in a variety of ways. However, when you’re just beginning to run your business from home, you might not have an office set up yet.
When working from home, find a work-life balance by keeping your workspace and living space separated when possible
Try to carve out a temporary space for work only, using doors, curtains or a room divider. If that’s not possible, then make the best of what you have available. The family kitchen table is not an ideal space for an office, but there are ways to make it work. Try our office-in-a-box trick! Keep your work items in a box. Set up your office things on your kitchen table when you start work, and put them away when you finish for the day. Temporarily decorating a communal space to feel more like an office environment may help you maintain work-life balance and boundaries.
5. Wearing whatever you want, since you are not working in public spaces
While many remote workers brag about being able to wear sweatpants when working from home, it has its share of problems. This habit not only makes you look unprofessional if someone sees you on a video call, it can make you feel unprofessional too! It is important to dress up everyday, even if you’re not taking any video calls that day. Adding dressing up to your morning routine gets you into the work mindset. And it means you’re prepared in case of an emergency. As nice as it is to not have to wear dress pants, or a blouse or a button-up shirt, getting dressed for work has its benefits.
Avoid the classic work from home habit: dress in your office clothes even when remote
Keeping up the daily routine of getting ready in the morning and dressing in your office clothes helps you feel like you're in work mode. As well, if you’re too busy worrying about whether your team or clients will find out you’re wearing sweatpants, then you’ll be too busy to do good work! Avoid this anxiety by avoiding the temptation altogether.
6. Not taking networking opportunities
There are still many business networking opportunities when working from home: seize them!
Don’t stop networking! Of course, it’s harder to do when you’re at home, and have less organic opportunities to suggest coffee or lunch dates with new contacts, but there are still ways to leverage your networks digitally. You’ve already started on a great first step by choosing B2BeeMatch to connect with other businesses across the country and around the world! But another option is to look for video conferences within your business sector. Not only will you learn a lot, but you will also have the chance to meet other business owners in an environment created for networking.
Sign up for B2BeeMatch here (it’s FREE!), and start matching with other businesses now.
7. Skipping lunch breaks every day
Encourage your team to take real lunch breaks with or without you. While this can be difficult to time around everyone’s schedules because of the nature of remote work, proper lunch breaks promote health (eating healthy meals instead of snacking all day), help with team bonding and sometimes lead to creative breakthroughs!
The work from home habit of skipping lunch hurts your performances—yours and your team’s. We all need some personal time!
Regular breaks can be very beneficial. For those people who get their energy from talking to others, group lunches will let them bounce ideas off each other. For those who like a little quiet, encouraging them to take a solo lunch will allow them to let their mind wander from work. Mind wandering during breaks allows the brain to solve problems, so your employees could actually become more productive by taking more breaks. Some of your team might have their best breakthroughs during a solo lunch or a group lunch, so it is important to encourage this part of the day and make sure you take it for yourself too!
8. Sitting all day
Encourage your team to try to maintain healthy habits around food and exercise. We all know that sedentary lifestyles lead to adverse long term health effects, including weight gain, physical health issues and poor psychological health. Conversely, exercise can help increase productivity at work. So, break the pandemic habits by creating new at home office routines for you and your team!
Working from home encourages sedentarity, so try to stay active throughout the day!
Create opportunities for you and your team to engage in physical activity. With most remote workers using a laptop, there are many opportunities to include some activities in your work day. For instance, in video meetings that are casual and non-confidential, you could encourage your team to take the meeting at a park or walk to a nearby coffee shop or coworking space. Lead by example yourself. Improve your productivity and cultivate a healthy work culture for you and your team! This can be combined with the casual chat channel mentioned earlier, so your team can create an encouraging atmosphere when they achieve something like getting all the steps per day recommended for their age and activity level!
9. Being too available
It is impossible to help everyone all the time! Create a no phone calls and no meetings period in your schedule for your own tasks!
Create boundaries around the hours you’re available. Carve out a period of time each day where you can't be reached in any fashion. While it might seem tempting to be the superhero leader who is available at all hours of the day for your team, this bad habit should be stopped. Schedule time to do deep work (check out this guide on a productive approach to deep work, and turn your wasted time into extra time). This is incredibly important especially as your business grows. As well, if you are too available, you train your employees to expect you to fix all their problems instead of trying to work things out themselves. Setting firm boundaries of when you are and aren’t available to chat and when you’ll answer emails will help you maintain your ability to do deep work and build resilience in your team members.
10. Trying to do it all
Avoid trying to do it all! Instead… delegate, delegate, delegate. Like with setting boundaries on your time, you need to set boundaries on your workload as well. If you get overloaded with busy work, you’ll spend so long doing that, that you won’t have time to focus on growing your business. You may have to hustle and do it all at first, but it’s best to try and grow your team ASAP and recruit driven talent that wants your brand to succeed. Find high quality employees and trust them to get done the work that needs doing, while you network, make connections and continue growing the brand. Together you’ll all thrive!
Stopping these 10 negative work from home habits right now will help you create a business that is ready to thrive in a work from home environment.
Some negative work from home habits can be addressed through B2BeeMatch!
Networking opportunities and creating new connections is an essential part of growing your business, and it’s an excellent way to stay connected with the business world—even when working from home. Discover how our business networking platform can help business owners from anywhere in the world and different industries create a network that will help you grow your business, no matter where you are in the world or what industry you’re in!