The switch to remote working has been growing for years. Now, with the arrival of the global pandemic to Australia, this phenomenon has taken a great leap forward. The sad fact is, some of us find remote working easier than others. The good news is, there are ways to adapt. In this article, we take a look at remote working and your personality, and how to make it work for you.
Remote working and your personality
Depending on which expert you consult, there are many different personality types, and you can do any number of quick online surveys to put yourself into one of these boxes. Unfortunately, labelling people as ‘assertive’ or ‘aggressive’ or ‘The Thinker’ and ‘The Director’ can be fairly restrictive and may overlook the many nuances that each of us possesses in terms of our personality traits. Rather than break things down into personality type boxes, it can be much more useful to look at the traits you possess, and how these can serve you best when working remotely.
Introverted vs extroverted:
Although over-simplified, knowing whether you tend to be more introverted or extroverted can help you understand your inherent approach to remote work. If you’re a generally more extroverted person who enjoys interacting with other people and is fairly confident in your face-to-face communication style, you may find working from home to be a bit of a challenge. This is because, normally, you utilise your natural charm and confidence to generate the best outcomes in your work. On the other hand, if you’re an introvert, working from home and being more isolated from your work colleagues, or clients, may work naturally in your favour. You are less likely to feel lonely when not working face-to-face with others, and thrive in feeling less ‘observed’.
So, if you’re struggling with not having that face-to-face contact and feeling a little lonely in your remote working environment, what can you do? Here are a few things to try:
- Schedule video calls with colleagues, your boss, or clients when you can, to benefit from some (albeit virtual) face-to-face contact.
- Catch up on the phone with your boss or a colleague to discuss your struggles and decompress. Remember to keep things professional, and not use it as a venting exercise.
- When you do need to vent a little, try catching up with a friend or loved one. But always remember to be constructive in your venting, and not fall into a trap of spiralling negativity.
- Use your natural flair for communication in your emails, so that your personality shines, even when you’re not face-to-face. Follow your company guidelines around professionalism, of course, but put a little of yourself into your communication wherever you can.
- Explore opportunities for collaboration with your team, to help you feel more engaged and less isolated.
Are you a confident person, or do you struggle with low self-esteem? This can have a big impact on working from home, just as it does on working in any environment. For someone with low self-esteem, being thrust into an unfamiliar working situation can exacerbate things. You may struggle with knowing you can get the job done, have trouble knowing whether you’re on the right track, or even worry that your employer or clients are not happy with you, because you don’t have that face-to-face reassurance that you’re used to. Typically, people with a higher level of confidence will take more easily to working from home, simply because they are more confident in their abilities. But that doesn’t mean that you will be any less successful at remote working, just because you experience low self-esteem. The key is to find the support that you need and adapt your working conditions to ensure that you’re getting both the engagement and feedback that you need. Here are some things you can do to make remote working work for you, if you suffer from low self-esteem:
- Work on your self-esteem with a counsellor. Improving your sense of self-esteem will not only help you with remote working but can have a huge impact on the rest of your life. Low self-esteem is not something you should simply ‘learn to live with’, it is something that you can work to improve, with the help of an experienced counsellor.
- Ask for support from your workplace. Let them know what works for you, to get the best out of your remote work. Do you need to check in with your boss once a week (or more) to hear how you’re doing? Maybe you need to have a regular video meeting with the whole team to discuss the challenges everyone is facing and offer support to each other? Or perhaps you can put together an email at the end of the week or month, letting your boss know the great things you’ve achieved that week and the things you’re going to work on over the next period.
- Speak with friends and family about how you’re feeling and let them offer support and an outsider’s perspective on just how well you’re doing. Hearing from someone else that you’re doing a great job, despite your misgivings, can be really helpful.
Anxiety and depression:
Do you suffer from anxiety and/or depression? These mental health concerns are not only challenging in your private life but can affect your ability to work from home. Having the right support and strategies for managing your anxiety or depression is incredibly important. If remote working has had a negative impact on your anxiety or depression, here are some things you can do:
- Speak about your struggles with your counsellor or psychologist. They will be able to help you with strategies for overcoming these struggles when working from home.
- Acknowledge that it is not your fault: Working from home has been a huge disruption and a struggle for so many people. You are not the only one figuring out how to make it work for you. With the right support, you can succeed at anything.
- Ask for help, where you can. If you’re comfortable disclosing to your workplace that you are struggling with anxiety or depression, you can ask them to support you. This might mean taking a mental health day when necessary and giving yourself time to rest and recover, or having some extra help with tasks that you find particularly challenging from home. It might mean having a regular check-in with your boss or a trusted colleague or HR team member, to discuss the extra support you need, or how they can help.
General tips for making remote working work for you
No matter your personality type, suddenly having to work from home can be a huge challenge. Here are a few things you can do, to make the adjustment easier:
- Keep regular sleep and waking times, even if you aren’t required to
- Take regular breaks during the workday
- Try to eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water to keep hydrated
- Keep a diary or list of things you need to achieve, so you don’t lose track
- Keep a separate workspace in the home, if possible
- Do something relaxing or reviving when the workday is finished, to let your brain know the workday is done
- Don’t forget self-care
- Keep regular appointments with your counsellor for strategies around working from home, managing stress, and avoiding burnout