#WFH: Ready Set ACT!

Because we are social beings, the virtual environment can often feel dehumanizing, disconnected and stressful. Only when we learn to take positive actions will we be able move forward successfully. There are many potential reasons why humans react instead of responding to a situation. It may have to do with how you are wired, your conscious awareness and your prior experiences. There are really two parties connected to your success in the digital environment: you and others (Kahneman, 2011). When you are exposed to something new and different you may experience a difficult adjustment period. The digital workplace brings about behavioral and psychological changes. In the right light, the changes should be seen as positive. The virtual worker can juggle the environment and all the different responsibilities. Difficulties may arise from fear, frustration, or lack of something such as knowledge or time. Any of these may be the reason why you might find yourself reacting instead of acting. Self-reflection is a powerful tool; in the virtual environment you are your closest ally. Self-reflection is something you can use as a tool to help you move forward.

Fear is a dangerous and powerful emotion. It has its place as a warning mechanism but can wreak havoc if not curtailed. You may fear the unknown because you are not sure if you will like this new way of work, are not sure where to set up your laptop or know what kind of desk to purchase. You may be afraid of being bored, lonely or lost. You may even be afraid of how this new way of working fits into your family life. Even if you live alone, you may fear how to make it all work or you may fear how others may view your new situation. You may ask yourself: “Will they laugh? Will others take me seriously as a professional? Will this new way of work interfere with my ability to get a promotion? Can I really do this?”

Instead of pulling yourself together and strategically planning your new workstation, or candidly talking to your friends and family about your new way of work, you may find yourself making up excuses for not buying a desk, re-organizing your priorities or focusing on your new freedom. You might be in danger of losing sight of your purpose and sinking into depression. You might be secretly hoping that this is just a bad dream and, in the morning when you wake up, you can drive to the old familiar office building.
Fear can quickly lead to frustration or anger if you don’t know what to do about it. You may be an excellent salesperson but suddenly you feel inadequate, as if you lack the skills to organize your day and focus on work. Maybe you suddenly feel a lack of personal time and feel tied to technologies around the clock. Frustration is likely to peak when there are pressures from family and friends who are not used to seeing so much of you. Let’s face it: this new environment is also a change for them. They may unconsciously expect you to be more available just because you are physically there.

There may also be pressure from your boss who has not been trained to manage remote employees. Chances are that your supervisor is as lost as you are; therefore s/he is making unrealistic demands of you and may be equally frustrated. Maybe your boss wants to keep tabs on you at all hours of the day, and you feel compelled to say “yes” to each and every demand. Whether this pressure is real or perceived, the effect is the same. You will react in ways that can cause you to perform at less than your best. When you are under pressure, you may react by ignoring those who need your attention or by not giving your attention to hose who should truly have it. You do things halfway because you are pressed to do the next item on the list. Maybe you forget about the list altogether and only get to the first item. You react and seek refuge in unproductive activities that do not necessarily allow you to relax.

You were busy but not getting things done. You aren’t really sure what happened to all the time and suddenly the day is over. Your priorities are out of order and your life is out of balance. It makes you resent this new way of work even more. It’s not only your way of work that has shifted, but also your personal life and your priorities. What can you do? How can you get the right perspective? How can you conscientiously act in ways that lead you to success? A good start is to accept the effect the virtual environment can have on you, the organization you work for and the society in which you live.

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