The new norms of working from home

How working from home is creating new habits in employees.

American recruitment site Joblist, surveyed people working from home to track some of the most common habits they may be developing.

With more than 60 percent of employed Americans working from home at some point during the pandemic, and many continuing to do so indefinitely, employees are starting to develop new habits in their professional lives.

Remote working distractions

Most responders admitted to spending nine hours a week doing other tasks instead of working while they were technically “on the clock.” The most common distracting behaviours included cooking, watching TV, doing laundry, and online shopping. As some experts have identified, working from home can be particularly difficult for women, who more commonly feel the added pressure of maintaining the home or childcare while simultaneously working remotely.

Experts suggest one of the most important things employees working from home should be doing is taking breaks to recharge and decompress throughout the day. On average, employees indicated it was acceptable to be away from their computers for 23 minutes at a time without letting someone know what they were doing.

New work from home habits

Separating work from life can get much more difficult when your office overlaps with domestic life. Seventy percent of employees working from home confessed to distractions like multitasking during the workday, followed by too much screen time (58 percent), checking their phones continuously (50 percent), skipping meals (36 percent), and struggling to adapt to remote technology (35 percent).  With so many people navigating remote work for the first time, adapting to the increase in conference calls, emails, and video chatting can further complicate the struggle of working from home. More than one in 10 employees polled (12.6 percent) acknowledged they didn’t have a dedicated workspace while working remotely.

Transparency when working from home

While working remotely, some employees have been skating around the truth with their bosses and co-workers. Eighty-three percent of employees admitted to telling a “white lie” while working from home. The most likely to commit these little lies were executives (92 percent), managers (90 percent), and junior-level employees (79 percent).

One in three employees who acknowledged having lied to someone they worked with also admitted they were caught doing so.

Nearly two in five employees reported having missed a deadline or a meeting at work because they were unproductive while working from home. The most common lies employees used involved telling someone they were working on a project when they weren’t (45 percent), fabricating connection issues to avoid a meeting (40 percent), and using technology as an excuse not to enable their camera in a meeting (37 percent). Roughly one in three employees also admitted to lying about being busy in order to avoid a call or meeting (36 percent) and pretending to pay attention in a meeting while doing other things (33 percent).

Remote working atmosphere

While 64 percent of employees reported feeling equally trusted by their employers while working from home as they did while they were in-office, 28 percent also said their employers were more trusting of them now that they were working remotely. Fifty-seven percent of employees also admitted to noticing a decrease in their co-workers’ productivity, and equally as many acknowledged talking to their peers about their co-workers’ productivity.

Being able to dress how you want might be a perk of working remotely for many, but it is possible to be too casual. While 27 percent of employees said they didn’t care at all what their co-workers were wearing during the day, 38 percent reported caring to a moderate extent, while 16 percent were largely aware of their co-workers’ appearances. One in five managers polled indicated that they still care what their employees look like while they’re working from home.

The upside of working from home

Overwhelmingly, the freedom to take breaks during the day was the most positive experience impacting 42 percent of surveyed employees while working from home. Another 30 percent indicated working less regular hours as a positive change from working remotely, followed by being more well-rested due to a lack of commute. Employees without children at home were 17 percent more likely to report feeling refreshed by ditching the drive to work. In contrast, employees with kids at home were 15 percent more likely to indicate appreciating the freedom to take breaks.