Top 10 common traits of a toxic work environment


Rachita Jain


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It is easy to assume that remote work offers only the advantages: for instance, the benefit of flexibility, reduced costs, and higher autonomy. After all, who wouldn't want to attend their children's sports day from the first row of seats? Or go swimming whenever the mood sways that way? Who would want to miss out on the opportunity to work from any part of the world? Would you miss out on the freedom to begin the day with a morning jog or coffee in the sunshine rather than crammed in between perspiring railway riders? An early finish so you can see your child's piano recital? Priceless, isn't it?
Although working remotely has many benefits, there is also a chance that you could pick up toxic remote work habits. Such a toxic work environment ultimately reduces your productivity and growth. What are these toxic remote work habits that you can acquire? Do you have some of them? Let's find out!

Common traits of a toxic work environment

1. Poor time management

At times, it may appear as though working nonstop is the only way to maximize your job satisfaction. The misconception is that you can work more productively if you skip your breaks.
Moreover, in one study, managers were unable to distinguish between employees who worked 80 hours per week and those who did not. Sadly, working nonstop may tax your body and mind, making it the most prominent trait of a toxic work environment.
On the other hand, too much flexibility in your job schedule means you won't have a set routine to keep you motivated throughout the week.

What can you do to fight the toxic work environment?

  • It's essential to manage your time effectively to ensure you meet deadlines, maintain productivity, and reduce stress.
  • Plan out the number and the time for breaks. Changes are inevitable because life is unpredictable. But it helps to know that your work life is structured.

2. Procrastination

Remote workers who are not accountable for their actions and responsibilities can negatively impact their team's productivity and progress, thereby creating a toxic work environment. Remote workers must take ownership of their tasks and communicate proactively with their team members.
Pushing the start dates of projects to the very last minute is a bad trait. When you have to speed through it, that can impact the outcome. There may be internal and external barriers preventing you from beginning this endeavor, such as family members needing your assistance in another room, unforeseen circumstances that cause delays, or perhaps your mood.
Due to the fact that you must wait while you finish your work, your coworkers also suffer when you procrastinate.

What things can you do to fight the toxic work environment?

  • Large tasks can be overwhelming, making it difficult to get started. Breaking them down into smaller steps makes it easier to make progress and stay motivated.
  • Creating self-imposed deadlines can help to focus the mind and develop a sense of urgency.
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique: This technique involves working for a set period of time (usually 25 minutes). Then you must take a short break before returning to work. It can break up the workday into smaller, more manageable chunks, making it easier to focus and stay productive.
  • By sharing your goals and progress with a colleague, friend, or coach, you can hold yourself accountable and stay motivated to achieve your goals.

3. Being disorganized

When tasks and projects are disorganized, it can be difficult to maintain a high level of work quality. It will be challenging to keep track of deadlines and priorities. Furthermore, disorganization can lead to a sense of overwhelm and anxiety, leading to increased stress levels and a toxic work environment. This can negatively impact your mental health, well-being, and job satisfaction.
Being disorganized is a harmful habit that may seriously impact your workday, whether it manifests as a disorderly workstation, overloaded email inboxes, or unfinished projects.
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What can you do to fight the toxic work environment?

  • Declutter your workspace: Get rid of unnecessary items and keep your workspace clean and organized.
  • Set up a filing system: Use folders, labels, and color coding to keep files and documents organized and easy to find.
  • Automate tasks: Use technology to automate tasks such as email filtering, task reminders, and document storage.
  • Create a to-do list: Write down all the tasks you must complete and prioritize them based on their urgency and importance.

4. Poor communication

When you operate remotely, your team is not present in an office setting. Because they aren't standing right next to you, it's pretty easy to slip into the trap of not reaching out to them. That is the first step in creating a toxic work environment.
You might not respond to direct messages sent through collaborative tools, you might not read emails, and you might even skip video conference sessions.
All these 'not' eventually lead to poor communication. As a result, you strain your relations with your coworkers.

Measures you can adopt to combat toxic remote work environment

  • Try to be more proactive in your communication.
  • While working with a remote team, communication is crucial for keeping your team informed and engaged. Try to schedule a time during your working day to check in with your team across all apps.
  • Open your inbox and reply to the more urgent messages. For faster chats, use direct messages.

5. Distractions

It's challenging to avoid distractions when you work remotely. It's possible that you'll need to be with your family or your pet while working remotely. Additionally, your phone is right at your side, and Twitter and other social media apps continue to feed you notifications. It is challenging to resist these temptations. Being sidetracked can prevent you from finishing your assignment. This further creates chaos, which is the main component of a toxic work environment.

How to survive a toxic remote work environment

  • Please set up a dedicated workspace: Create a designated area for work, preferably in a quiet and comfortable space, and ensure it is free from distractions like TV or other people.
  • Plan your workday: Create a schedule and stick to it as closely as possible. Set realistic deadlines and prioritize tasks that require your undivided attention.
  • Minimize digital distractions: Turn off notifications for non-work-related apps and websites during work hours. Use tools that block distracting websites during specific times.
  • Please communicate with your household: Let your household members know your work schedule, so they can avoid interrupting you during work hours.
  • Use noise-canceling headphones: If you are in a noisy environment, consider using noise-canceling headphones to help you focus on your work.

6. Lack of a proper workspace

Working from home without a proper workspace can be challenging. You tend to sit on the couch or anywhere in your house with no appropriate workspace. Such work habits lead to both physical and mental stress. It paves the way for more significant distractions, which leads to a toxic work environment. Some people may develop poor postures due to the lack of a proper workspace.

How to survive in a toxic workplace

  1. Choose a quiet location: Find a quiet area in your home where you can work without distractions. If possible, choose a room with a door that you can close to minimize noise.
  1. Use a desk or table: Set up a desk or table to work on. Having a dedicated workspace can help you stay organized and focused.
  1. Get a comfortable chair: Invest in a comfortable chair that provides good support for your back. This can help prevent discomfort and pain during long work sessions.

7. Multi-tasking

While some people believe that multi-tasking can increase productivity, research has shown that trying to juggle multiple tasks at once can lead to decreased efficiency and increased stress levels.
Attempting to multi-task in this environment can lead to decreased focus and lower quality work. Constantly switching between tasks can make it difficult to switch off at the end, leading to burnout and increased stress levels.

How can you control toxic remote work habits?

  1. Schedule focused work time: Block out time on your calendar for focused work without distractions. Turn off notifications, close unnecessary tabs, and focus on one task at a time during this time block.
  1. Set boundaries: Communicate your work hours and availability with your team and family members. This will help minimize interruptions and distractions during focused work time.
  1. Use productivity tools: Utilise productivity tools like task management apps or time-tracking tools to stay organized and focused.
  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises can help you stay present and focused on the task at hand.

8. Micromanaging

Getting barraged with emails or direct messages from your manager all day can be exhausting and unpleasant, and it can also make you feel less confident in your abilities to work independently. There are techniques to avoid micromanaging, even though it is regrettably quite typical in remote or hybrid settings. If you feel comfortable doing so, be honest with your manager using language like "I feel" rather than "you make me feel". They might not even be aware of how it affects you. After they do, you can devise a new working method for both of you.

How to survive in a toxic workplace

  1. Communicate clearly and proactively: Ensure you understand your manager's expectations for your work and regularly communicate your progress. This will help build trust and prevent the need for constant check-ins.
  1. Provide regular updates: Provide regular updates on your progress, particularly if there are any delays or challenges. This will help your manager stay informed and avoid the need for micromanagement.
  1. Take ownership of your work: Take ownership of your work and proactively seek feedback. This will demonstrate your commitment to your work and reduce the need for micromanagement.
  1. Be responsive and accessible: Be available and responsive to your manager's communications, particularly if they have a question or need clarification. This will build trust.

9. Feeling silenced

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Feeling silenced is the biggest signal that you are in a toxic work environment. Louder people on your video call are frequently heard, while those who are quieter feel less inclined to speak up even when they may have solid ideas. It's essential to bring it up if that holds true for your team. Little adjustments can have a significant impact. For example, you could ask your manager to promote the usage of team chat features during video calls so that everyone has an equal chance to contribute. To relieve the pressure on you and to express your opinions in front of a vast audience, you can ask your manager to organize smaller online meetings.

How to survive in a toxic work environment

  1. Speak up during meetings: Make sure to speak up during meetings and contribute to discussions. Use the chat or messaging functions to ask questions or comment if you're uncomfortable speaking up verbally.
  1. Build relationships: Build strong relationships with your colleagues and managers. This can help you to feel more comfortable and confident in expressing yourself.
  1. Seek out opportunities to lead: Look for opportunities to lead projects or teams. This can give you a platform to share your ideas and be heard.
  1. Document your work: Make sure to document your work and contributions, including any feedback you receive from colleagues and managers. This can be helpful if you need to advocate for yourself or demonstrate your value to the team.

10. Increased gossips

With the increased use of chat and messaging platforms for remote work, employees may feel more comfortable gossiping and spreading rumors on these channels. Social media is a breeding ground for gossip, especially if employees are connected on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Moreover, in some cases, toxic company culture can lead to gossip and negative behavior.

How to survive in a toxic work environment

  1. Don't engage in gossip: Refuse to participate in gossiping and negative conversations. When you hear gossip, change the subject or redirect the conversation to a more positive topic.
  1. Report toxic behavior: If you witness or experience toxic behavior or harassment, report it to your manager or HR representative. Employers have a responsibility to ensure a safe and respectful workplace for all employees.
  1. Focus on your work: Stay focused on your work and avoid getting caught up in office politics or gossip. Maintain a positive attitude and focus on your goals and objectives.

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