Work From Home

How to Sustain Your Job as a Remote Worker


Work from home is the future.

We have all of the tools necessary for a remote workforce to flourish. Lockdowns forced many companies to adapt or die. But traditional thinkers are still resistant to this inevitable outcome. Instead, they’re moving employees back into the office either full-time or on hybrid schedules, rather than giving them the flexibility to choose for themselves. Consequently, if you are a remote worker, you may feel devalued or pressured to return to the office. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to preserve your current arrangements, to live the life that you want.

Understand That Authoritarianism Stems a Lack of Empathy, Fear, and Mistrust

Businesses should be free to decide whether they require workers to be on-site or if they may work remotely. We are not slaves and get to choose whether to stay with one company or move to one with a culture that’s more compatible with our own sets of values. In the long term, those companies that offer the most flexibility will attract the best candidates.

Despite this logical outcome, some decision-makers at companies still choose to force people back into the office. To combat this, the first step is to realize that in many cases, this mindset is driven by one or more of three factors: a lack of empathy, fear, and mistrust.

A Lack of Empathy

Some people — particularly extroverts flourish in an office environment. They feed on the energy of constant in-person interactions. However, some of them lack the empathy to understand that such environments have the opposite effect on introverts who function best in a distraction-free environment. The key is to understand that empathy — and the lack thereof goes two ways. Some introverts also lack the empathy necessary to understand that extroverts need far more social connections to function. So you are left with a set of extroverts who don’t know why introverts resist coming to work and introverts who don’t understand the extroverted position and fail to communicate their needs effectively. Communications break down, and behavior becomes mandated.

Fear

Business owners and stakeholders carry an enormous amount of responsibility for the success of their organizations. With this comes a great deal of pressure. When the stakes are high, people can become fearful that the wrong decisions will cause the business to fail. Consequently, they revert to what worked in the past, assuming that it is the right answer for the future.

Mistrust

Many people tend to be visually oriented. If they see people working in an office, they get the (often false) sense of security that the system is functioning and everybody is doing their jobs. When people are offsite, and you can’t physically see them working, it can be easy to assume the worst. Homes are indeed full of distractions, and not everybody has a great work ethic. It’s also true that mistrust stresses relationships and often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How to Deal With Your Boss’s Lack of Empathy

Don’t judge your employer for being less empathic than you would prefer. They are under pressure to produce and have lived a life experience that shaped their opinions and behaviors. Leadership doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you call bosses out on their weaknesses, they may dig their heels in. As a result, they may push back with even more rules to govern your behavior to match their perceived notions of productive work.

Instead, be communicative and learn to become a great storyteller. Find a way to naturally work a story into your next conversation that helps your boss visualize your world. Be sure to include elements that indicate your understanding of your boss’s worldview, too.

Try complimenting your boss on their ability to thrive in a busy office environment, as if they feed off of the energy of ongoing conversations. Ask them how they filter out distractions when they need to get work done. Then, be transparent about your own needs. Describe how the constant bustle of an office and even the feeling that other people surround you are distracting. Show them how you’re much more functional and can focus on your work better when you’re in a quiet room in your home, without anyone around.

You might tell a story about a project that took forever to make progress because of the distractions you faced until you decided just to get it done at home and were able to power through it. Put your remote work status in their interests as a way to get you to be more productive. Use your emotional intelligence to address your boss’s needs, and you’ll help them have a more empathic perspective, too.

How to Deal With Your Boss’s Fear and Mistrust

People who run companies and departments tend to see themselves as powerful and brave. The last thing they want is for someone to tell them that they are fearful. So instead of calling them out on their fears, help them become less afraid and trust you more.

The best way to do this is through over-communicating. Remember, people tend to believe what they see. If they don’t see you working, they fear that you are not working because you are at home. So, create the visual for them. Start by encouraging your team leaders to hold short video conferences daily. You may not like this at all, but a fifteen-minute meeting every morning where you show your face will help ease some of your boss’s fears. Then, when you describe what you have planned for the day and what you did on the prior day, you satisfy their visual needs.

Take this a step further and send several communications throughout the day. Just keep your communications concise, and don’t create extra work for your boss. The goal is to remind them that you’re working on things and to show them your progress. It’s not to annoy them with distractions that get in the way of their work.

Last, ask for feedback weekly. Summarize your achievements for the week and ask your boss how that compares to their expectations. Suppose it’s a match, great. If they give you feedback that they expect more, then dig into the conversation further. Explain what you did to achieve what you delivered, and ask them for advice on optimizing your time to do more. An understanding boss will appreciate your proactive approach and will work to help you. If their expectations are still unrealistic at this point, then use it as a signal to start looking elsewhere.

Get Ready to Thrive, and Live Your Best Life

These steps should help you to sustain your remote work lifestyle. Just keep in mind that you will need to give, too. You can win your boss’s empathy and trust, and you can help them to become less afraid. So don’t let them down by taking advantage of this newfound power. Instead, deliver on your promises and help your company — and your boss to deliver on their promises, too. Learn new skills to help yourself and your company, and stay engaged. You’ll have a synergistic relationship as a result, and you’ll be able to live your best life as a remote worker who brings value to your company and yourself.