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  1. Blog
  2. Work from Home
  3. September 15, 2023

How to Feel More Confident & Secure in Your Job While Working Remotely

Tips for addressing concerns with your manager

Woman feeling confident while working from home
Photo courtesy of Liza Summer

There are many benefits to working remotely, but the lack of in-person interaction can also breed a nasty mix of self-doubt, insecurity, and imposter syndrome—an uncomfortable feeling of “I’m not good enough, and everyone is going to find out.” You might start to compare yourself to others, downplay your wins, fear any type of criticism or failure, avoid risks or accepting new opportunities, and feel like you’re a fraud.

Despite its repercussions, this feeling of uncertainty and questions you may have regarding your job security are completely normal given the unpredictable environment of remote work. At home, it’s much more difficult to understand your tangible value to a company, feel confident that you're doing a good job, and read the tone of constructive criticism over Slack, email, or a call. Plus, you might receive less feedback and facetime than you would if you were in the office. 

In other words, it can be hard to feel seen when you’re working from home. Our data shows 22 percent of women feel their contributions are less visible to their manager or employer since beginning to work remotely due to COVID-19, and 27 percent of women feel less valued since working remotely.

You're not the only one starting to feel like just another cog in the machine at work. Here are some ways to boost your confidence while working remotely and examples of how you can address feelings of job insecurity with your manager or team. 

Read more: Work Remotely? Experts Share Tips for Staying Motivated & Connected When Working From Home

Why is it more difficult to feel secure in your job performance when working remotely?

When you’re working in-person, it’s easier to decode communication and pick up on whether your contributions are appreciated through verbal validation, regular feedback, and body language like facial expressions or nods of approval. 

If you’re relying on choppy Zoom calls and bluntly crafted emails, you might start to overthink and overanalyze the simplest messages. Over time, if you give in to your job anxiety and interpret every message as passive aggressive, you might begin to overextend yourself by saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity and working longer hours to prove your dedication, and you might have a harder time separating the lines between work and your personal life.  

When you’re socializing less with your team, anxiety is bound to sneak up and cause feelings of imposter syndrome. “Remote work can make people feel a lack of connection to their work because they don’t feel connected to their colleagues or managers. And when employees don’t feel connected, they’re not going to feel fulfilled in their job,” says Dana Hundley, head of coaching and content at Allspring

6 ways to boost your confidence while working remotely

1. Get to know your coworkers

Invite your coworkers to chat over a virtual lunch or coffee break and ask them about their hobbies outside of work. If you understand your coworkers on a deeper personal level, you’ll probably better understand their feedback and communication style at work. Plus, once you feel more connected to your coworkers, and even become friends, you’ll feel like you have someone in your corner who can vouch for you and support you on days when your self-confidence is at a low point.

Ask them for tips on how they handle the stresses of working remotely and what keeps them feeling motivated and engaged. You can bring up a conversation about anxiety while working remotely by saying something along the lines of:

“I’ve felt a little out of my depth lately with this new design project. I feel like I’m struggling to decipher the project expectations over email and am unsure if my work is what our manager is expecting. How have you been feeling throughout the process?”

Read more: We Asked 2 Experts: How Do You Practice Resilience at Work When Things Are Falling Apart?

2. Set and maintain boundaries

Having healthy boundaries at work helps to maintain positive interpersonal relationships, which is especially important when you’re consistently communicating online. Without boundaries, we often end up making personal sacrifices in order to maintain job security and appease employers. To avoid becoming a people-pleaser at work, explicitly lay out what you do and don’t prefer, need, and want in the workplace so no one is left guessing how to best interact with you.

Try asking yourself these questions to explore your boundaries: 

  • How much time do I want to reserve for myself every day/week/month?

  • Do I want to have working hour limits? Am I okay with communicating “after hours” or on the weekends?

  • How do I prefer for others to set expectations with me? By email? Over video?

3. Give positive feedback whenever you can

Never underestimate how far kind words can go in affecting someone’s mood and mental health. Lead by example—thanking colleagues for their hard work is a super easy way for you to brighten someone’s day, show respect, deepen professional relationships, and help someone feel seen while working remotely. Give a shout-out in Slack to your colleague who landed a big sales account or send a congratulatory email to your team for nailing an important client presentation. 

4. Be your own biggest cheerleader

It feels good when you feel like your hard work is being recognized and appreciated, of course, but you don’t have to only seek validation and approval from your manager or team. You’re the one who’s paying closest attention to your accomplishments, and it’s up to you to track your goals and celebrate when you hit a work milestone or knock your project KPIs out of the park.

5. Share your mistakes

If you make a mistake that will impact your team or a specific project, share what happened. It’s better to get ahead of the news and take ownership rather than wait for the consequences of someone finding out. That way, you can share how you’re learning from the mistake so it won’t happen again. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in sharing mistakes can also help your other coworkers to feel comfortable to do the same, creating an atmosphere of shared trust and camaraderie.

Read more: 8 Clear Signs There’s Trust & Psychological Safety in a Workplace

6. Replace nonverbal cues and communicate concisely

In the office, nonverbal cues make up a large part of communication—even a small head nod can ensure someone is listening to what you’re saying. When you’re working remotely, you can use emojis, GIFs, memes, or reaction options to replace your nonverbal cues and set a positive tone. 

Try to be more mindful and intentional with all types of communication. Write in a clear, succinct manner and avoid confusing euphemisms or idioms. During video calls, make sure you maintain eye contact with the speaker and offer appropriate body gestures. 

How to address concerns about working remotely with your manager

If you feel anxious about your job security or don’t feel confident in your performance, first ask yourself what kind of support and accommodations you really need. Do you need more regular feedback? A few more personal and mental health days off to allow for recharging? More professional development opportunities so you feel like you’re upskilling on the job?

Once you have a better idea of what you need to quell your anxieties and perform your job well at home, take your concerns to your manager in your next 1:1. Don’t spring the conversation on your manager, though, give them a heads up that you want to discuss your working arrangement and how you can find a solution together to boost productivity.

You can send over a simple, casual message on Slack beforehand like, “Hi! I was hoping to chat during our next 1:1 about some concerns that have come up for me while I’ve been working remotely. I've been struggling a bit with gauging whether I’m meeting your expectations and would appreciate your feedback. Can we discuss this in our upcoming meeting?

If you want to send a longer note, here’s an example of an email asking for more support:

Hi (manager's name),

I wanted to take a moment to discuss some challenges I've been experiencing since we transitioned to remote work to ensure I can continue to contribute effectively to the team.

Since working remotely has limited the casual interactions that were a significant part of our in-office work environment, I’ve been feeling less connected to my colleagues and sometimes struggle to get the timely assistance I need to carry out my job. 

I want to emphasize that I appreciate the flexibility and trust you've shown by allowing us to work remotely, and I am committed to continuing to excel in my role. To address these concerns and regain my confidence, I propose the following:

  • Regular check-ins: I would appreciate more frequent 1:1 meetings with you to discuss my progress, address any concerns, and receive guidance to ensure I'm meeting expectations and contributing to the team's success.

  • Training and development opportunities: I’d love to explore opportunities for remote learning and skill development to enhance my professional growth.

  • Team-building activities: I’d be happy to plan and schedule more team-building activities to increase employee motivation, encourage collaboration, and build trust while working remotely.

I appreciate your understanding and support here. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions on how we can move forward together in finding a solution.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to discussing this further with you,

(Your name)

If you’re unsure of what you might need to feel more supported, tap their managerial expertise. You can say something like, "I value your perspective and experience, and I was wondering if you could provide some guidance or suggestions on how to address these concerns while working remotely. Do you have any tips or resources that might help me build confidence and feel more integrated into the team?

It’s important to always begin the conversation by acknowledging the benefits of remote work and your appreciation for the flexibility you’ve been offered. Collaborating with your manager in finding practical solutions can help you not only address any feelings of inadequacy, but also improve your overall remote work experience.

Read more: How to Quit a Job Due to Mental Health Reasons

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