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
Over the last year and a half, many of us have had to experience working from home for the first time. And for some of us, working remotely will be a permanent change – whether moving to a hybrid of working from home some of the time and in the office the rest of the week, or working from home for the foreseeable future – and something that will take getting used to. Although some people thrive when working from home, for others, it can be a struggle. No matter which category you fall under, we’ve put together some tips for how to survive working from home; to keep your productivity up, but most importantly, to keep your sanity.
1. Get dressed
We know, it’s tempting to crawl out of bed and straight onto your laptop (or perhaps even stay in bed for those Zoom meetings), but it’s not doing any good for your motivation or your mental health. One of the best things you can do for yourself when working from home is to get up every morning and get dressed. That doesn’t mean having to put on the full get-up, but at least changing from your ‘relaxation’ clothes to your ‘it’s time to do some work’ clothes. And yes, yoga pants count. Just be sure to put on something that’s both comfortable and suitable for any meetings you’ve got on that day. This signals to your brain that it’s not the weekend, you’re not home sick from work, and that it’s time to get productive. You’ll see, it will do wonders for your headspace.
2. Keep a consistent sleep routine
Even though you’ve cut out the morning commute from your workday, that’s no reason to stay up all night binging on Netflix. You’ll only end up making yourself more tired the next day and you’ll struggle to get into the groove of things when the workday starts. Keeping to the same sleep schedule contributes to your sleep quality and helps you to function throughout the day. It helps you to be more productive, perform tasks more effectively, and stay more focused. So, for the sake of your energy levels and motivation during the day, set yourself a regular bedtime and waking time.
3. Have a dedicated workspace
Just as getting dressed and having a proper sleep schedule will help your brain to get into the mood for work each day and stay focused, so too will having a dedicated workspace. Whether it’s a spare-room-turned-office, the kitchen table, or the couch, just be sure it’s not somewhere that you spend your time sleeping or doing most of your relaxing. This can be tricky if your space is limited at home, of course. So, if you’re stuck with using the couch, try to set up a coffee table or somewhere flat to put your computer or tablet, and support your back and neck as best you can. The aim of the game here is to mentally separate your ‘home’ spaces and your ‘work’ space, so that you can once again give your brain the cue that it’s time for getting work done. Likewise, once work is done, putting away your desk or moving to another ‘relaxation’ area of the home will let your brain know that it’s time to decompress and switch off from work mode.
4. Take regular breaks
It can be tempting to work right through the day when you’re working from home, to either get extra work done or to finish earlier than planned. However, this can be harmful to both your productivity and your mental health, and can even lead to burnout. Be sure to schedule yourself regular breaks and do something other than making another cup of coffee during this time. Get out of your chair or off the couch, take a walk outside, or simply move around the house for a few minutes. It’s also really important to eat properly during these breaks to keep your mind and body fueled – so don’t skip meals!
5. Create relaxation rituals
Despite your best intentions, getting dressed, working from a dedicated space each day, and keeping a good sleep routine, you still might have issues ‘switching off’ from the stress of work each day. You’re not alone. In fact, at least half of Australians have experienced increased levels of stress due to the disruptions to work routines and organisation that the pandemic has caused. If you found it hard to take your mind off work before, working from home has likely made it that much more difficult. Thankfully, there are some really simple things you can do to correct your stress levels when working from home. Creating some ‘relaxation rituals’ is key. These will further prompt your mind that it’s time to stop thinking about work, and time to be in ‘home mode’. Here are some examples:
- Take a shower once the workday is done and change into some ‘at home’ clothes
- Put your laptop or tablet away and clear away any work clutter until the next day
- Put some of your favourite music on and do a quick clean up of the house (put your coffee mug away, clear up any chargers and cables, etc.)
- Take a walk or take some time for exercise before and/or after your workday
- Get outside and get some sunshine and fresh air – both during your breaks and after work
- Cook something for you and/or the family and sit down to dinner together
- Put on the television and watch your favourite show
- Make yourself a cup of tea and sit down to read a book
- Call a friend or loved one for a chat and decompress about your day
- Schedule your sessions with your counsellor or psychologist and keep them up to date about how working from home is going
6. Reach out when you need to
Perhaps most importantly of all, remember that you’re not the only one who’s finding it a struggle. Even though working from home sounds great for many of us in theory, it can be tough to get used to. And even for those of us who quite enjoy working solo and spending time alone, working from home can be more challenging than expected. That’s why it’s so important to reach out for support when you need it. Whether it’s calling a friend or colleague to chat about your day, or making time for regular counselling sessions to help you with strategies for maintaining your motivation and supporting your mental health – we all need a little support sometimes.
If you’re finding working from home difficult, if your mental health is suffering as a result, or if you’re simply having a hard time keeping your focus throughout the workday, there are many strategies that can help. Reach out to us today for a consultation about how our counselling, psychology, and life coaching services can support you to make the most of working from home – not just to survive, but to thrive.