Career experts suggest that hybrid work has become the new workplace norm in 2023 and employees and their employers are embracing flexible work schedules. Despite seeing soaring popularity during the height of the pandemic, remote and hybrid job postings have seen a slight dip, with just one in seven job postings on LinkedIn in the U.S. offering remote work as an option, according to a recent LinkedIn Economic analysis.
Even with remote and hybrid roles seeing less popularity among employers these days, the research provided by Zippia concluded that roughly 68% of Americans would prefer working fully remotely.
Between 2019 and 2021, the number of people primarily working from home almost tripled. The American Community Survey published by the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that currently, more than 27.6 million people are working remotely, up from the 9 million recorded in 2019.
Working from home has allowed employees more autonomy, improved schedule flexibility, increased motivation, and a healthier work-life balance. For employers, the benefits of remote work include reduced needs for offices and expensive rents, higher employee productivity, and even reduced staff turnover.
Habits to Kick When Working From Home
The benefits of working from home or almost anywhere are plentiful, but some small home habits you’ve picked up over the years could potentially hurt your productivity. Take note and kick these habits for higher productivity.
Habitually checking your phone
Out of habit, we tend to reach for our phones the second we receive a notification, whether it’s work-related or not. According to statistics, scrolling social media is one of the top “time wasters” in the workplace, making up more than 35% of non-work related activities.
Interestingly enough, those employees working in-office spend more of their working hours on social media, roughly 23%, compared to their work-from-home colleagues, who spend about 12% of their working time scrolling. Regardless of the statistics and what the data shows us, constantly checking our phones, whether it’s responding to text messages, scrolling social media, watching videos, or even searching for music, has become a big time waster — and we do it almost without realizing it.
These days it’s nearly impossible to do anything without our phones. Think of the last time you watched a movie without checking your phone. Even when you’re busy cooking — checking your phone has become a habit you’ve taught yourself without realizing it.
Pandemic-related lockdowns and work-from-home protocols allowed workers more freedom and time to spend with their families. For some parents, this was the perfect time to reconnect with their children. For others, it was a time to take on more parental responsibilities, seeing that the office and home were now combined.
While these duties and responsibilities are crucial for the family, small parental habits which we’ve picked up over time have now become a massive part of what takes our attention away from work during office hours.
Small things such as taking a few extra minutes every morning to prep and pack lunches or taking up more carpool shifts than what was originally agreed on. Even trying to get school projects done during the day or help with homework during working hours can amount to countless minutes, if not hours being used for non-related work activities. Don’t do it.
And while it’s important to prioritize family matters, regardless of where or how you work, we often forget how much of our work time can be consumed by family matters. It’s important to balance parental duties and work at the same time, even if you’re working from home.
Constantly changing workspaces
It’s common for remote and work-from-home employees to switch up their offices every so often. Instead of working from their desk or office, some will opt to work from their bed or even from the lounge. Some go out of the house to work, choosing to work from a cafe or co-working space.
While it is a good idea to change up the working environment every once in a while, constantly taking work from one room to another has become a habit for many employees. Moving from the office to bed, out of habit, can become a time waster without us even knowing it.
According to research by the University of California Irvine, it takes employees, on average, 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after being distracted. So even if you think that taking your work from one place to another won’t lead to other distractions or take that much time from your workday, you might’ve been wrong all this time.
Now we’re not saying you should avoid switching up your office now and again; instead, see how much time you can spend in one place without having to constantly change because of external distractions.
Attending to minor matters and errands
Working from home allows employees to do more with their day, as increased schedule flexibility and unlimited autonomy give them the free will to do so.
Yet, attending to minor matters, such as changing a lightbulb or running to the shop to do grocery shopping because we can — is not only a waste of company time but also hours that could’ve been used to be more productive.
Instead of taking a few minutes every day here and there to get unrelated work tasks out of the way, consider to rather plan and schedule it on your calendar or in your diary. Many remote employees will often take on a few minor tasks, thinking they’ll spend a couple of minutes getting it done, only to realize they’ve spent a better part of their morning unattached from work matters.
The habit here is thinking we have unlimited autonomy to get as much done during the day, only resulting in decreased productivity and employees feeling overwhelmed or overworked once the working day has come to an end.
One of the best benefits of working from home or remotely is the ability to travel whenever and to wherever you want. The work and travel lifestyle have become so popular in recent years that the number of digital nomads in the United States has increased by more than 131% over the last couple of years.
And while remote work allows employees more freedom to travel and take out holiday packages for Europe or other destinations, regardless of the time of the year – unplanned travel is not only costly but can hinder work-related activities.
Employees often make it a habit to be constantly traveling, be on the road, or move from place to place, as remote work makes it easy to do so. While this is completely possible and manageable at the same time, it quickly becomes difficult for some to balance this sort of lifestyle.
Some people can do both – travel and work – for others, it’s a bit harder, despite having the opportunity, but remaining productive during work hours can be a challenge if you don’t know how to properly manage your time.
The midday nap
This is perhaps one habit many employees might be struggling to shake off. The midday nap has almost become a staple among remote workers, and for some, it’s almost practiced religiously.
In a 2021 survey by Digital.com of 1,000 employees, it was found that around 72% of them said that they want to be able to take a nap during the day or even squeeze in a gym session if possible.
While most of the respondents claimed that they often take their midday nap during their lunch break and not working hours, it’s often uncertain to tell how many minutes or hours a day employees spend napping.
Taking the time you need to rest and feel recharged is crucial, as this helps you stay focused during the workday. Unfortunately, the habit of taking a nap whenever or wherever isn’t doing much but stealing valuable time from your schedule.
The small home habits we’ve picked over the last few years have become part of our work-from-home lifestyle. While some employees can juggle both their personal and professional matters at the same time while still being able to remain productive at work — others might find it harder to remain engaged and focused during the working day.
Every so often, it’s important to do some self-reflection and to see what type of habits you have picked up in recent months that are causing you to fall behind or not get as much done as you’d like to.
Working from home or remotely has its benefits, but it may be harder for employers to trust their workers if many of them abuse these benefits. Remember to remind yourself that regardless of where or how you work, it’s still a job, that the working hours should be respected, and that every minute is valuable for both you and your employer.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by cottonbro studio; Pexels; Thank you!
Carma Khatib is a passionate innovator and product manager with significant experience driving digital products from conception to launch. My mission is to find and create solutions to real-world problems that ultimately impact a company's triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profit.