Remote workers have very real fears stemming from the nontraditional nature of their professional lives. I know this all too well, after spending five years working from coffee shops, mountain tops, coworking spots, resorts, hotel lobbies, libraries, relatives’ and friends’ places, my car, my kitchen table, and yes, my home office. Sure, the scenery has changed a lot over the years, but my neuroses weren’t ever too far behind.
Here, I’d like to introduce you to these common fears of remote workers with the fervent hope of helping you overcome them. (Because, if anything, remote work should be an adventure!)
The top five common fears of remote workers:
1. “Cabin fever will be my undoing.”
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy—this holds true even if you don’t get this reference from the 70s horror classic The Shining. (I won’t hold that against you.)
Upon initially transitioning to remote work, many pros have indicated that feeling stuck inside their homes is one of their primary concerns. Who wants to feel as if every day is a sick day? Or that the deafening silence of an empty home is their eternal work fate? You do have options: you can sign up for a coworking space, get outside each day for some exercise, adopt a pet if you don’t already have a furry friend at home, or find ways to spend more time with your kids. The bottom line: remote work gives you flexibility, not dead ends.
2. “I’ll be invisible in my job.”
Out of sight, out of mind, right? (And doesn’t that mean you’d be one of the first to lose your job if your company downsizes?) This one freaked me out, too, and so I called in an expert—in this case, that’d be Wharton professor Jonah Berger, whose New York Times bestseller, Invisible Influence, held real potential for assuaging my fears. His advice didn’t disappoint.
It’s true: you really can have more impact from behind a screen or on a video call than say, striding around a brick-and-mortar office. Check out Berger’s tips on everything from making better group decisions, becoming more likable, and motivating others, all done at a distance.
3. “I won’t advance to a senior role.”
This fear originates because of the belief mentioned in #2 above, and also because many workers simply feel that there aren’t many fully remote senior-level or executive roles available. (Allow me to shatter this misconception.) There’s still some sentiment that “running a company must be done face-to-face” continues to be a rule of the modern workplace. Yet your ability to advance in your job can depend upon whether your company is 100% remote or simply “remote-friendly,” where the occasional work-from-home day happens.
How is your organization structured and what’s the internal culture like? If you need a change, just look at the jobs listed on Remote.co; you’ll see a number of positions there that are far from entry-level.
4. “My network will wither on the digital vine.”
Remember all those nice, interesting humans you used to engage with in your past job(s)? You know, the folks you’d routinely see in the office, at client meetings, or when attending the usual industry conferences? Those people are still out there, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t reach out online, schedule a coffee meeting with them, or consider attending professional events in order to stay in touch.
Being remote doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to build your network and nurture those critical work relationships—you’ll just need to be more deliberate in your efforts to do so. (If distance is an issue, you can certainly continue to keep in touch virtually—here are a few recommendations on how to do that.)
5. “Professional development will consist of YouTube bingeing.”
Once you go remote, gone are the days of professional growth, right? Wrong. It turns out that gaining new skills, staying on top of trends, and engaging in lifelong learning are possible even if your company lacks a formal program or dedicated budget. Virtual enrichment opportunities are everywhere and don’t have to consist of you aimlessly searching for relevant content.
Plenty of accredited courses, certifications, and expert content are there for the taking, and many conferences now have an online component. You’ll just need to set aside time to invest in it; consider adding in a half-hour each day and calling it your new daily commute. (Except in this case, the destination is your ideal professional future.)
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