Remote workers challenged by bad habits and guilty pleasures

Three out of four remote workers surveyed by HighSpeedInternet.com said they felt unproductive and struggled to maintain the right work-life balance.

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Since the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, organizations have been forced to shift to a remote workforce. And working remotely certainly offers a variety of benefits. But for many people, working at home can be a challenge fraught with temptations that often take their mind and focus away from work. A report released Friday by ISP resource site HighSpeedInternet.com looks at some of the habits and distractions that take a bite out of worker productivity.

SEE: Wellness at work: How to support your team's mental health (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For its report entitled "Work From Home Wrap-Up 2021: The Expected, the Bad, and the Naughty," HighSpeedInternet.com surveyed 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older who currently work or have worked from home. Conducted in early November, the poll was designed to learn which factors stood in the way of people working effectively in a remote situation.

A full 77% of the respondents said that they've felt unproductive while working from home, while 75% admitted that they struggle trying to maintain a work-life balance at home.

The survey uncovered a few tricks that remote workers use to avoid work, especially virtual meetings. Half of those surveyed said they pretended to have a bad internet connection to escape from a work-related video call. More than half added a fake meeting to their calendar to give them a break from actual work. And more than 61% said they've spent most of a video call simply staring at themselves.

The temptation to evade work can be strong as evidenced by the things people do instead of working. Some 77% of the respondents said they use their work computer for social media and to shop online during working hours. More than half said they've played video games or streamed TV shows and movies instead of working.

Working from home can also lead to casual and even unprofessional tendencies. More than 70% of those polled said they've worked or joined a meeting in their pajamas. Half of them said they've worked while using the toilet. More than half said they suspected that a coworker had been drunk or high during work hours, while 30% admitted to being drunk or high themselves.

Many of the respondents were easily tempted by certain distractions that took them away from work. Citing general types of distractions, 29% pointed to food, 23% to entertainment, 19% to household tasks, 9% to taking care of family members or pets, 9% to miscellaneous activities, 6% to sleeping or staying in bed, and 5% to "adult activities."

Some of the respondents mentioned specific kinds of distractions per the following comments:

  • "I mine for crypto several times a day to give myself a break."
  • "I eat and drink my fruit punch and play 'Call of Duty'."
  • "Eating popcorn."
  • "Wish to abolish capitalism."
  • "I pretend I'm not home and don't answer the call."

Finally, a poor internet connection can certainly put a dent in productivity. Among the respondents, 80% said that their connection has prevented them from doing work. Some 75% said they would upgrade their internet plan if their employer kicked in a stipend. And 67% said they feel their employer should pay for their internet service while they work from home.

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