A few articles ago, Milton wrote about how hard it is to get noticed and remembered in today’s work world because of all the information noise coming at us. This really goes double for remote workers since they are rarely seen or heard in their work places. Many feel isolated and out of the loop, constantly fearing that they have been given up for lost by managers and colleagues. When I read tech writer and partially remote worker Alistair Christie’s blog describing the guilt and paranoia that often plagues remote workers, I thought “Whew! It isn’t just me!” He talked about feeling guilty because he took 10 minutes to make a pot of coffee (hot cocoa in my case) and then feeling a need to drastically overcompensate for it (and other such misguided uses of time) by working extra hours to make sure he covered the “8 hours minimum.” In reality, the office may be a source of more distractions, and according to one study people often feel like they are able get more done at home because there are fewer interruptions than when they are in the office. The problem is that with “remote guilt” you somehow feel like you should be doing extra for the luxury of working from home.
Christie also talks about the fear and paranoia remote workers feel about not being able to make their presence felt. There is a fear that people will think they are just goofing off at home (which people never do at the office, I’m sure), that they are less committed to the team, and that managers see them as more dispensable to the enterprise. I really can’t find any studies that prove one way or another whether remote workers’ careers are more vulnerable there is definitely plenty of discussion about it . Either way, as a remote worker you’re definitely going to be more disconnected and will have to work harder to make people realize you are a real person–especially if they’ve never seen or met you. (This is where I make my plug for VSee and other videoconferencing solutions because it really makes a huge difference when people can see you!)
For me as a new addition, I’m sure some of these feelings are heightened. There’s the drive to work extra hard to prove my worth and to make sure my contributions are visible. There’s also my uneasiness at taking down time throughout the day, no matter how necessary or unnecessary. And even though I’ve only received confirmation and encouragement from my boss and coworkers, I still have a tiny nagging fear that I’m quite dispensable and could get canned at any moment.