Self-Accountability in the Workplace: How to Make the Most of Your Workplace Freedom

We’ve all experienced some type of “work-perk” within our office environment. Whether it be ergonomic desk supplies, casual Fridays, co-workers you are able to call friends, or a simple snack station open to employees, the freedom that comes with today’s workplaces is ever-growing. With this privilege, however, comes the heightened need for employee self-accountability.

It is easy to get lost in the grand scheme of the ideal office setting and forget just how lucky you are to work within an organization that allows you to hold these factors as a source of added motivation. How can you be sure to maintain drive throughout your work day and not take your workplace freedom for granted?

Step 1: Outline Your Tasks

Simply being in the office and sitting at your desk is not always a work day well spent. Listing out your responsibilities for the day – or even week – provides you with a visual tool of how much you have to get done. This trick isn’t meant to overwhelm you by throwing everything at you all at once, but having some sort of checklist you can cross off as you go creates a motivational incentive and helps you hold yourself accountable.

Instead of missing out on work time by conversing with your cube-neighbor for 20 minutes in your office’s collaborative work-environment, you can aim to incentivize yourself with conversation as a reward for completing three-or-so tasks. There is nothing more satisfying than getting to cross off a portion of your to-do list.

Step 2: Remember How Pumped You Were When You First Started

We’ve all entered a position bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, excited to take on each responsibility that came our way. We were enchanted by the modern design of the office and could not believe our workplace hosted a monthly happy hour for employees. But, as the weeks dragged on and the months turned into years, that initial spark sometimes dwindles. It is easy to fall into the routine of making your morning coffee in the office kitchen where there is sure to be conversation and ending the day by mindlessly surfing through social media.  

Don’t lose sight of your why. Keep in mind how motivated you were to begin your position and focus on what you can do to maintain that motivation. If the fresh-out-of-college ‘you’ could see you today, what would they think or say?

Step 3: Put Down the Phone for Longer than 10 Minutes and Log Off Social Media

This is a relevant concern because so much of life both inside and outside of work revolves around phones and screen time; however, take a moment to think about how much of your time at work is actually spent replying to non-urgent text messages and checking on your personal social notifications. If you are lucky enough to work in an office where your employer allows casual phone use, make sure you don’t abuse the privilege. Constant checking of the phone leads to valuable work time lost.

If remaining active on social media throughout the day is a part of your job, keep your profiles logged in on a tab separate from that of your email/current projects. This will help prevent unnecessary scrolling by keeping notifications from serving as distractions.  

Step 4: When You Work from Home, Actually Work

Since much of today’s work revolves around online activity, it has become increasingly common for employees to opt for remote-work on certain days of the week. Staying cozy in bed on your laptop can sound more appealing than making the commute to the office, but how can you ensure you are just as productive at home as you would be at your desk?

To start, make sure that everything is set up before logging on. Coffee made; charger ready; planner open; have anything you need to complete your work laid out before the work even begins. It is easy to rationalize getting off-track at home because work needs do not seem as immediate outside of the office.  

Consider setting up shop in a local cafe or making an office space at home specially dedicated for your remote days. This will help you move in a productive mindset and ensure you focus on appropriate tasks.

Step 5: Be the Coworker You Would Want to Have

Be cautious of slow seasons in the office when your work load may not seem as urgent. Working to stay ahead of the game will benefit you – and your organization – in the future.

You can also use the opportunity to offer assistance to others. Think of this as the “golden rule” of the workplace. Send out an email asking if there are any projects you can pitch in on or low-priority tasks that keep getting pushed aside because other matters have taken priority. Show some initiative. This will go a long way when it comes to employee camaraderie and will demonstrate to your boss how much of an asset you are to the greater team.  

Overall, it is essential for us to remain constantly aware of how we conduct ourselves around work responsibilities. Having freedom in the workplace to maintain a comfortable balance of work and play is a nice perk to have, but we must be conscious not to take advantage of the kindness of our employers. After all, one bad apple could ruin the bunch and that would definitely be no fun.

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