A new study commissioned by Plugable, an American computer peripheral manufacturer and resource for workspace essentials, found that scrolling through social media, shopping online, binging Netflix, and taking non-essentials trips outside of the home were the four most common bad habits people have adopted since beginning a full-time work-from-home routine as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is based on a recent survey of 2,000 American adults who are currently working remotely.
“According to the results of our study, working from home offers new flexibility that is greatly appreciated by employees, such as not having to engage in a daily commute, being able to wear whatever one chooses, and having more time to get caught up on household chores,” says Plugable Founder, Bernie Thompson. “But it also comes with its own set of challenges.”
Chief among those challenges are (1) being sedentary, (2) distractions from kids or other family members, (3) lacking a productive workspace, (4) technical issues, and (5) finding ways to stay motivated throughout the day.
Working from home has also opened the door to other forms of unsanctioned workplace behavior. The team at Plugable report that 17% of people admit to having drank alcohol during the workday and 13% of people reported having sex during working hours.
On the other hand, only about one in six people indicated they that hadn’t picked up any bad habits since making the transition to a home office setting. Who are these exemplary employees? The data suggest that people who score high on the personality dimension of conscientiousness — that is, the tendency to be well-ordered, disciplined, and action-oriented — are most likely to fall into this category. This squares with previous research which shows conscientiousness to be one of the best predictors of occupational success.
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But even conscientious types aren’t immune from picking up a bad habit or two in the transition to a full-time work-from-home routine. The researchers found that conscientious individuals were more likely than other personality types to use their phones to go on social media or browse the internet during the workday. They were also slightly more likely to shop online during working hours.
Interestingly, the data suggest that extraverts have made the transition to a home-based work setting better than might be expected. For instance, extraverts were no more likely to report being less productive as a result of the change to working from home. They also reported only marginal dips in their daily happiness.
One area where extraverts are struggling is being able to disconnect from work at the end of the workday. The ideal scenario for extraverts, it seems, is a hybrid employment model where they are spending part of their time working from home and part in the office. Introverts, on the other hand, are more than happy to move to a permanent work-from-home setup.
The data also highlight some of the pros and cons of working in close proximity to one’s partner or spouse. Generally speaking, people view the increased time spent with their partner as a benefit to their relationship, reporting that their overall connection, as well as their sex life, has improved. But many workers indicate being easily distracted by their partner and feel less productive when their partner is around. Incidentally, men are more likely to call out the downsides of working alongside their partner than women. Moreover, approximately 30% of people report being envious of their partner’s schedule.
Bad habits and challenges notwithstanding, remote work is here to stay. Given the choice, most workers would opt to continue working from home for the long-term (47%), while 35% would elect a hybrid option, and just 17% would prefer to return to the office. When it comes to the reality of heading back into an office setting, nearly half predict a return during Spring or Summer of 2021, while 1 in-5 expect to flex between both home and office, leaving decision-makers with the need to adjust current office setups and adapt to hot-desking where available.
“Our goal is to make the transition to working from home as smooth as possible from a technical and productivity standpoint,” says Thompson. “The results of our research suggest that the ideal work-from-home setup is a desk with a laptop, docking station, and one or more extra monitors. A comfy chair doesn’t hurt, either.”