In recent times, more companies have moved towards, and in fact, embraced the concept of remote working. With this, remote work confidence has been on the rise. However, not all employees in the virtual space have been able to grasp the intricacies of working remotely.
Here, we dive into the unique issues that employees (whether they have just entered the workforce or have been working for decades) may face within the remote workplace and how they can work with confidence to build a more effective remote working team. With the top tips for remote workplace newbies that we'll share in this article, you'll be well on your way to showing up with more confidence in the remote working world. Lastly, if you're in need of some proactive steps that you can use to enhance your confidence, we'll uncover and share some of the best ones with you here.
In essence, remote working is where employees work from home, a co-working space, or from wherever they choose.
One of the reasons that it has become incredibly popular is that it allows companies to choose from a wider range of candidates, regardless of their location. Hayden Brown, the CEO of Upwork has emphasized this as one of the biggest advantages of remote working:
“I can’t tell you the number of CEOs I talked to who are thinking, ‘I have to solve the diversity challenge in my business and remote work is one of the key tools’… We have to let go of this very office-centric culture and incorporate people who are in a lot of geographies.”
Technological solutions and remote working platforms have contributed substantially to making the remote workplace an easy and comfortable place to be.
This also marks the birth of the hybrid workplace. The hybrid work model allows employees the combination of working from the office, when required, and from home, depending on their schedules. This in turn allows for freedom and flexibility, while maintaining or even increasing productivity levels.
That being said, the concepts of remote working and the hybrid workplace are still relatively new. This means that many employees may not be entirely confident in carrying out their tasks, managing people, or heading projects on a remote basis.
In a hybrid workplace, multiple factors can contribute to work confidence issues that employees may struggle with. However, some stand out from the rest.
This is probably one of the biggest workplace confidence killers. The lack of effective communication can come about as a result of unclear instructions or guidelines from a superior.
It can also arise from team members not being upfront with each other about their capacity to complete the required task or not speaking up to clarify what needs to be done.
This communication breakdown may cause unnecessary stress among the team and in a worst-case scenario, may even lead to an undesirable delay in project timelines, as well as productivity leaks.
Many times, the lack of effective communication is a result of workplaces using a mix of asynchronous and/or synchronous communication incorrectly. It must be noted that different types of situations or conversations require different mediums of communication. If the type of communication used is incorrect, then it may result in a breakdown of communication. Using an asynchronous collaboration app allows remote working teams to share their status updates while at the same time, improving communication between teams and bringing more context to the tasks everyone is working on.
An employee’s mindset will inevitably stem from their previous experiences, as well as from their self-esteem.
When employees do not have the necessary growth mindset, it may result in negative self-talk that can pull down not just their morale, but that of the entire team.
This may lead to frustrations among team members that may result in arguments or misunderstandings.
Be it in a full remote or a hybrid workplace, there are some proactive steps that employees can take to enhance their confidence and work on building trust in remote teams.
As an employee, you should, as much as possible, engage in open, direct, and honest communication with your superiors. While this may be easier said than done, it is worth it to avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings along the way, thus allowing you to approach your task with confidence, knowing that you are on the right track.
Another thing that can enhance your workplace confidence is to upskill yourself. Attend confidence workshops that use confidence worksheets to analyze your work confidence levels and that give you tips to improve. You can also attend training sessions on how to communicate among your team members effectively, and more importantly, how to ask for help when you need it.
In addition to these, one of the most important things that you can do to enhance workplace confidence is to ask for feedback on the work that you have done and be genuinely open to implementing that feedback for the project in question as well as for future similar work.
Self-awareness in the workplace is one of the most important factors in enhancing work confidence. Self-awareness allows your strengths and weaknesses to be identified and in turn, will enable your superior to better understand you and the way that you work. In the long run, this will encourage behaviors that build trust in virtual teams as well.
As Sheryl Sandberg has said before:
“Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential”
When you track your projects in a detailed manner, you will be able to see where you excelled and where you fell short. This will then allow you to identify areas where you can improve.
Transform your confidence levels by adopting a growth mindset and embrace the challenges that come your way instead of surrendering to a defeatist attitude.
Jeffrey Immelt, the ex-CEO of General Electric once said :
“Surviving a failure allows you more self-confidence. Failing is a great learning tool, but it must be kept to an absolute minimum.”
It is perfectly alright to make mistakes at the workplace. Acknowledge those mistakes and learn from them. This takes self-awareness to the next level.
There is no doubt that remote working makes virtual meetings an absolute necessity. That being said, many employees tend to be self-conscious when they are on video and may choose not to appear at all, opting for purely audio virtual meetings.
The importance of being on video is emphasized by John Furneaux, the CEO of Hive:
“Remote work has definitely been a challenge and it took me a few months to get into the swing of things, personally. The most important keys to remote work at a startup have been weekly stand-ups, where we all get on Zoom once a week to chat, and regular 1:1s with video on. Having your video on totally changes the tone of a meeting and is critical for a startup”
Another area where employees can build trust during work from home sessions is through asynchronous communication.
Asynchronous communication is when a workplace email or message is sent without the expectation of an immediate response. This allows for well-thought-out replies as opposed to knee-jerk reactions. It also allows for you to focus on work and the creative process as opposed to stressing out over having to respond immediately.
Ways to project confidence through asynchronous communication or written communication are:
Whether you are working remotely, in the office, or are part of a hybrid work environment, it cannot be denied that confidence is the ultimate key to success. With that, we leave you with some of our favorite work confidence quotes:
"Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less-than-perfect conditions. So what? Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful."
— Mark Victor Hansen, motivational speaker & co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul book series
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”
― Marissa Mayer, cofounder of Sunshine & former CEO of Yahoo!