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20 Ways to Fail Miserably as a Corporate Web Worker

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Last week, I discussed 10 ways to make sure that you are a successful corporate web worker, but there are also plenty of things that you can do to screw it up.

The challenge in corporate web working is to be able to consistently prove that you can accomplish just as much, if not more, while working remotely as you could in a traditional office setting. You’re also fighting the perception some people have that “working from home” is really a euphemism for goofing off.

As a result, you need to work extra hard to make sure that people know you are productive, and there are so many things you can do to ruin your chances of being a successful. There are also plenty of things that your company can do that will make it difficult for you to be successful, but I want to focus on how avoid the many things that you can do to limit your chances of being a successful corporate web worker based on your behavior when working remotely.

Here are just a few examples of ways to make sure that you’re never allowed to work remotely again.

  1. Refer to working from home as a “day off.”
  2. Brag about how little you accomplish while telecommuting.
  3. Spend all day on Twitter and Facebook talking about everything except work. Make sure that your co-workers and/or your boss is connected to you on those networks so they can see your bragging.
  4. Start a side business and spend all day working on your personal projects, instead of work.
  5. Don’t bother to set any goals or figure out what materials you need to do your work from home.
  6. Better yet, make sure that you leave some important documents or technology at the office to make sure that you can’t do much work.
  7. Make sure that you don’t have the infrastructure you need for working at home (such as a phone headset or solid Internet connection).
  8. Squeeze in as many household chores as possible and plan to do big piles of laundry, dishes and home improvement tasks while you are at home.
  9. Ignore all of your email and don’t respond to any messages.
  10. Don’t answer the phone or return voicemails.
  11. Make sure that you set your IM status to offline and ignore any incoming IM.
  12. Take long naps. Bonus points for sleeping through scheduled meetings.
  13. Fall asleep during your conference calls. Snoring is optional.
  14. Refuse to speak during conference calls, especially if someone asks you a question.
  15. Don’t bother to mute the phone line on conference calls when your kids or pets come tearing through the room.
  16. Spend all day catching up on your soap operas, cartoons or other television shows.
  17. Take conference calls or other business calls with the television on in the background.
  18. Don’t bother to change out of your pajamas when you have video conferences over your webcam.
  19. Don’t accomplish anything tangible or complete any deliverables.
  20. When your boss asks what you did when you were working from home, just shrug and say “not much of anything.”

Some of these are obviously a bit tongue-in-cheek, but they do represent real things that people sometimes try to get away with when telecommuting. This isn’t to say that you can never to a load of laundry while working from home, but any of these activities can get in the way of being productive or prevent you from coming across as a responsible professional. We need to think carefully about how our actions might be perceived by our managers, co-workers, customers or other business people that we interact with on a regular basis. At the end of the day, most people are measured by their output. If you consistently get a lot of great quality work accomplished, your chances of success are much higher, but you don’t want a few bad habits to reflect poorly on your work.

What are your favorite examples of what not to do as a corporate web worker?

Photo by Flickr user Ryan Vaarsi used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

11 Responses to “20 Ways to Fail Miserably as a Corporate Web Worker”

  1. Good article Dawn! I too am a remote employee and do follow many of these “don’ts”. They are just regular, obvious things but, make a whole lot of difference. I will surely be more alert from now on.

  2. This list is definitely a one-way ticket to fail lane, haha. I think many of us forget that even if we work at home, we must observe right business conducts like not snoring on a call. Funny you’ve mentioned that on item #13. I wonder it anyone ever done that. Nice sharing!

  3. insightful.

    these suggestions apply to any corporate employee, not just the web workers, i think.

    btw, on responding to emails, I’ll prefer to reply as a batch rather than reply-as-soon-as-the-mail-comes basis. Because it does less distraction from my work.

    • I think the key thing on that Veera is that you should do at home what you would normally do in the office. If no-one expects an immediate reply when you’re at your desk then it’s ok to send on your own timetakle when at home too.

  4. Necessarily anonymous

    I only disagree with the “start your own business” bullet. I discovered that when working from home, doing work at odd hours and on weekends shows your dedication to getting your job done. As long as you can get your job done, I see absolutely no problem with starting a sideline as long as you are available to your day job during business hours.

  5. Great article! I’ve been a telecommuter for most of the past 12 years, working for other companies while also operating my own consulting concern and a professional band. I currently handle sales for two small companies, my own work, a young local charity and my band… all from a home/office.

    Boy, oh boy, did you include some great ones. In fact, the entire list is worth posting as a reminder of what NOT to do as a telecommuter. In fact, you could write the opposite of each point and make it a list to follow, not avoid.

    Again… great article! I thoroughly agree.

    All the best,

    Lane Baldwin
    Servant-Leadership Solutions