Until recently, working from home was primarily the domain of freelance creatives, digital nomads, solopreneurs, remote sales pros and offsite customer service reps.
Of course, COVID-19 has now made WFH a mandatory proposition for many of us—for who knows how long? After many years of WFH experimentation, I’ve learned—and continue to learn—what’s effective and what fails miserably.
Informed by my trials and many errors, here are four pitfalls to avoid:
1. Never clock out.
Even if you’re a “breadwinner,” you don’t get a “whenever” work pass that excuses you from the functioning and maintenance of the household. This “always-on” mindset is not fair, and it’s not healthy for you or those around you.
It’s crucial to establish healthy boundaries for your working hours. If you manage employees, set reasonable scheduling expectations for your team. Never clocking out is the quickest way to burn out.
2. Make it clear that your priorities are the priority.
“Listen up, family. My work schedule and focus take precedence over everything else in this house.”
Even if you wouldn’t say such a thing to your family or colleagues, operating in such a selfish manner is no way to live—or work. No matter what your job title and responsibilities may be, know that everyone’s priority is a priority, and it takes cooperation, communication and collaboration to make it work.
3. Crush. Grind. Repeat.
Sending emails at 3 a.m. doesn’t equal productivity.
According to Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology and the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at UC Berkeley, poor sleep “demolishes” our immune system. A compromised immune system will make you more susceptible to COVID-19, so getting plenty of rest each day – including naps – isn’t a sign of laziness or weakness. Rather, it’s a smart way to stay well.
Being a relentless work beast may have been an admirable trait once upon a time, but it’s terrible for you and those around you.
4. Be a jerk.
There’s no question that your stressors are real and relentless – but so are everyone else’s. Don’t try to make it a competition, and don’t leverage your tweaked emotional state into a license to offend and upset everyone in proximity to you.
Err on the side of being gracious and understanding. Your colleagues, clients and family members will remember if you were a jerk during the quarantine.
What other WFH pitfalls would you warn others about? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.