Counterintuitive Mistakes You Make When You Start Working Remotely


Ready to make the leap to remote work? Then you’d be surprised at how often your instincts can be wrong. Many of us think we know how easy it will be to switch to remote working, but when it comes down to it, our typical office habits get the best of us.

That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid the “counter-intuitive” mistakes people make when beginning a remote work strategy. What does that mean exactly? It means that you’ll have to fight a few habits when you make the switch:

  • Turning the remote work strategy into a new version of the office. It’s tempting to believe that remote work should be just like the office if it’s going to be successful. But that’s not always the case. It has its own advantages and disadvantages, and you need to know how to negotiate them.
  • Not being clear with your guidelines. There’s so much great technology available for remote work that it can be tempting to leave too little guidance for your remote workers.

With those habits in mind, let’s explore some ways to prevent mistakes in your remote work strategy:

Mistake #1: Having meetings – lots and lots of meetings

When you start remote work, the temptation is to create a sense that you’re at the office. In fact, one of the top concerns that people have—to the tune of 37% of respondents—is the lack of human interaction. But when the pendulum swings too far the other way and you start having too many meetings, it starts to eat into productive time.

What is it about remote work that makes us want to have more meetings than is necessary? You wouldn’t spend all day in an office having meetings. The same should be true with remote work. While check-in meetings with a remote team are important, resist the urge to overcomplicate the remote work by creating more meetings than is necessary.

Mistake #2: Doing too little to outline the remote work process

It’s possible to read the above and believe that remote work outsourcing means you should maintain a hands-off role. But keep in mind that you still want to provide direction to a remote team, even if you don’t want to check in with meetings too often.

How do you identify a happy medium? Here are some ways to outline your remote work process so a team can refer to it whenever they get confused about their remote work responsibilities:

  • Hire self-starters and strong communicators. It starts with the hiring process. If you aim your hiring practices at identifying self-starters who are tech savvy and capable of communicating as part of a remote team, you’ll find everything else easier.
  • Create a flexible remote work policy. For example, make sure that you outline the time that’s ideal for self-care for your employees. You should also share your remote work policy so everyone can refer to it when they get confused about their responsibilities.

Mistake #3: Treating the home office like a home, rather than an office

When you’re in the home office, it’s tempting to relax. You’re at home! You can wear sweatpants. You can hop over to the kitchen for a quick snack. You can take a break whenever you want.

Working from home is that it can be even more distracting than an office, even if you’re used to an office setting where co-workers constantly drop by. From an employer’s perspective, lay out some positive ways employees can reduce distractions. From an employee’s perspective, try to create an office-friendly space that’s separate from the rest of your home, and if you can, try to do only work in that same space. This will help create a boundary between personal time and work time, reinforcing a distraction-free environment.

These mistakes might seem easy to make if you haven’t worked remotely before. And they can be. But if you put in the time and effort, you can avoid them and create a remote working structure that works for everyone.

Looking for more tips?

For a whole toolkit of remote work tips for managers, employees and leadership, check out our Anywhere Worker Guidebook! We combine our expertise with new research to help all employees navigate this new remote work normal.