By Lauren Ross
Making mistakes is part and parcel of being human. But perhaps if you knew the most common errors employees are making in the workplace, you’d be able to reduce the frequency of your workplace blunders.
Below, we outline eight mistakes most people have made on the job, from the cringeworthy screen-sharing disasters to the devastatingly costly security breaches.
1. Assuming Everyone Knows What You Are Doing
Your colleagues and manager won’t know about the great things you are achieving for the company unless you tell them. This is particularly true following the shift to remote work, which has seen many employees working flexibly and autonomously. You have to assume that if your manager isn’t micromanaging you, they’re probably also not keeping tabs on your day-to-day achievements.
Make sure you create and leverage opportunities to showcase your work, whether it’s during your weekly team catch-ups or a performance review. If you’re looking for new challenges and experiences, be confident to ask for them. The only person who is truly invested in your career progression and success is you.
A 2014 YouGov poll found that one in five Americans arrive late for work at least once a week. While it’s okay to show up late to the office every once in a while due to unforeseen circumstances, don’t let it become a habit. If people observe you sauntering into the office 20 minutes late every morning, you will quickly make yourself very unpopular.
The same goes for remote workers. Don’t leave people twiddling their thumbs waiting for you at the beginning of a Zoom call. Not only does this show a lack of respect for your colleagues because it implies you believe your time is more valuable than theirs, but it also suggests you have poor time management skills.
3. Spending Too Long Writing an Email
Sometimes it’s worth taking your time over a workplace task to make sure you get it absolutely right. In most cases, sending an email is no such task.
It’s easy to get worked up over sending an email, whether you’re concerned about the tone of voice, how you sign off, or its length. But anguishing over these factors is not a good use of your time, and you can be sure that the person on the receiving end of an email will be far less scrutinizing of its contents.
Commit to writing your email responses efficiently, sending fewer of them, and worrying less about how quickly you need to get back to people. If you put pressure on yourself to stay on top of a constantly pinging inbox, you won’t be able to focus on the more important and value-adding activities on your to-do list.
4. CC-ing the Wrong Person
Or even worse… the dreaded “send to all.”
There is no workplace scenario more mortifying than sending a disgruntled email to your work bestie complaining about a difficult colleague before realizing you’ve copied in the entire workforce.
It’s best to keep any controversial opinions or negative attitudes well away from your work inbox but, at the very least, be sure to double (and triple) check who’s copied in. Aside from embarrassing yourself or offending your colleagues, this is especially important when you are sharing sensitive or confidential information or working with external stakeholders.
5. Forgetting When You Are Screen-Sharing
Ok, we lied. Some things are much more mortifying than “send to all.”
In the age of remote working, most people are regularly communicating via video conference, which often calls for one participant to share their screen with other meeting attendees.
You might be responsible for delivering a client pitch or talking your team members through a new tool. But if the meeting diverges from your presentation and descends into a more general group discussion, it’s all too easy to forget that you are still screen-sharing. Before you know it, you’ve opened up WhatsApp Web to weigh in on a particularly animated group chat that’s currently in the midst of dissecting the weekend’s football results.
A faux pas like this is super embarrassing, not to mention unprofessional. If there is a possibility that you’ll be required to share your screen, close any irrelevant tabs and turn off notifications for apps like WhatsApp Web before the meeting begins. You don’t want your manager reading your private messages, seeing inside your Amazon shopping basket, or looking at what you’ve been watching on Netflix.
6. Visiting Inappropriate Websites
Many organizations install software on their company computers to track employee activity or restrict access to certain websites. While illegal sites, pornographic sites, unethical sites, and online dating sites will likely be blocked altogether, it’s still important to use your common sense when it comes to internet browsing on company servers.
A survey conducted by Malwarebytes Labs found that more than 50% of employees use their work devices for personal activities. While it’s probably okay to perform low-risk tasks like reading the news, sending an email, or watching a Netflix show outside of work hours, the general rule of thumb is to not do anything you wouldn’t be okay with your manager seeing.
Workplace culture has been evolving for the better in recent years. Employers are increasingly investing in diversity and inclusion initiatives and empowering their employees to bring their true authentic selves to the workplace. Managers are encouraged to lead with empathy, prioritize work-life balance, and share a little more about their personal lives with their teams.
Moreover, the rise of remote working has given workers a unique window into the personal lives (i.e. the kitchen tables and living rooms) of their colleagues.
No doubt you’ve found this transition to be largely positive because it has contributed to the forging of meaningful and long-lasting workplace relationships, boosted wellbeing and job satisfaction, and helped to combat loneliness and isolation.
Nonetheless, it’s important not to overshare to the point that it becomes unprofessional or inappropriate. No blanket rule dictates what you should and shouldn’t talk about because context is key, and there will be different boundaries for different colleagues. Use your common sense and always tread carefully when it comes to potentially sensitive subjects, such as politics.
8. Downloading Viruses and Malware
In 2021, 74% of organizations experienced malware activity that spread from one employee to another. This could be explained by the rise and increased sophistication of phishing attacks and the increased distractions employees experience when working from home.
With cybercrimes costing organizations an incredible $1.79 million every minute, it’s important to be on your guard. Make sure you have the necessary cyber-security systems installed on your devices and educate yourself about how to spot phishing attacks.
Protecting yourself and your organization from cybercrime is often as simple as refraining from downloading any unknown files or clicking on links from unknown senders.