5 Mistakes Made by Remote Workers
This article was created following our webinar on Resilience & Remotability: Indispensable Skills for the New Normal delivered by high-performance expert, Owen Fitzpatrick. If you’d like to watch the webinar in full, click here.
The dramatic increase in remote workers across the globe has hit almost all industries and sectors. However, it is undoubtedly causing difficulties and will naturally be maligned with issues, teething problems, and mistakes.
In this article, we run through some of the more common mistakes remote workers are likely to make so they can become more aware of what is potentially dragging them down as they work from home:
- Work from anywhere
- Out of sight, out of mind
- Running unhelpful narratives
- Guilt and burnout
- The distraction hole
1 Work From Anywhere
The first mistake is working from anywhere.
One of the best things remote workers can do when working from home is dedicating a section of their house/apartment to just work. They should not work from their sofa, bed, or from different rooms throughout the day. You might wonder why this matters. Owen Fitzpatrick, a high performance expert, has an interesting explanation as to why he promotes working from one spot in the home.
Owen previously worked as a therapist treating sufferers of insomnia. One of the most effective pieces of advice Owen would give his patients was to only associate their bed with sleep and nothing else. No reading, no TV, no eating or drinking – just sleep. This created an association in their minds that the bed was only for sleeping. As a result, when their bodies went to bed, they knew it was time to sleep and nothing else.
The same is true for work.
If you are working from home and find yourself operating from lots of different places around the house, you might start to confuse the mind as to what it’s supposed to do. If you open up the laptop when you are on the couch when you are supposed to be relaxing, your brain likely thinks it is time for work.
Try to dedicate one section of your home to work and work alone.
2 Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Secondly, out of sight, out of mind is another mistake people make.
This is an easy mistake remote workers make because they do not have all the variables and triggers of the office around to remind them of the people they work with, the tasks they are supposed to do, and the projects they are working on with different people. They are just focused on their immediate tasks. They are in a mental silo.
This means they can often forget people. What is crucial is that they remind themselves and have certain triggers in their office space that reminds them of the various people they work with so they are not forgotten, checking in with them regularly and making sure everything is OK.
Make sure you are regularly thinking about your team and how you can check in with them. Check in with and not check on. Those are two totally different ways of thinking about that approach.
Similar to the work from anywhere mistake, the difference will start as a mindset, but will eventually manifest itself as a behavior.
Out of sight, out of mind means staying connected with your colleagues as best you can despite geographical differences.
3 Running Unhelpful Narratives
Running unhelpful narratives and even helpful narratives is a dangerous thing remote workers often do when they do not get the response they want.
For example, if a remote worker sends an email and the recipient does not respond within 24 or 48 hours (possibly because the recipient cannot see them in the office) their brain can create some unhelpful narratives as a result.
It is likely almost all remote workers have had some sort of experience of this in the past few months, and the cause is usually an absence of information. As a result of this absence, they concoct or create a reason for the lack of reply in their heads, which is not necessarily true and can often be unhelpful and a source of anxiety. Eventually, when they touch base, they realize their thoughts and anxieties were based off nothing and they have wasted a large amount of mental energy worrying about and engaging with this unhelpful narrative.
4 Guilt and Burnout
Many remote workers have reduced commutes to and from work, saving time and making them believe they should be able to work harder for longer. This is not necessarily true. Allied to this, their work can easily creep into their personal lives when working from home. Sometimes, a remote worker might find they log on to their work laptop late at night to check something and end up doing 30 extra minutes of work they would not do were they based solely in the office.
Remote workers need to be able to set strong boundaries as to when they start work, finish work, and when they go on breaks. When we are not in an office environment with dozens of eyes on us all day, it can be easy to slip up if no one is reminding us to take a break or go for lunch.
What is important here is that we are operating in such a way that we are balancing our day between work and other important parts of our life, setting strong boundaries as to when we start and stop work.
5 The Distraction Hole
At home, there can be many distractions. The brains of remote workers can go anywhere and everywhere, be these conversations with friends and family, getting distracted by hobbies and interests, or falling into a hole of focusing on anything other than work.
One way of avoiding these distractions is by using a technique called the Pomodoro Technique, which is widely-used to aid focus. It involves setting a 25-minute timer, focusing on one task for those 25 minutes, taking a break for 5 minutes and repeating the process again baking in longer breaks throughout the day at specific intervals.
As many of us shift to the new normal, it is inevitable that we will make mistakes along the way.
As mentioned at the start of this article, if you would like to watch our webinar on Resilience & Remotability: Indispensable Skills for the New Normal delivered by high-performance expert, Owen Fitzpatrick, please click here.