Topic 4 | Managing Anxieties About How Other People Might View Your Work

Remote work is a fairly novel concept in the Philippines, so not a lot of people understand what it involves. Unfortunately, this also means that many remote workers may often find themselves misunderstood and sometimes, by their nearest and dearest too.

Hence, some people shy away from remote work or are hesitant to take it on for fear of what others might say, especially since most Asian societies foster interdependence within the community. Conversely, most remote workers often struggle to describe what they do to outsiders and this can contribute to one’s anxieties in a way.

So, in this chapter, we’ll tackle some of the most common and damaging misconceptions about remote working and debunk them one by one:


1. Remote work is not a real paying job.

True enough, there are plenty of remote working scams on the Internet. There are indeed some unscrupulous employers out there who are only out to make a quick buck or to squeeze a few pennies out of their workforce.

On the upside, there are also plenty of legitimate remote work posts and there is a growing number of professionals who rely on these to support themselves and their families. Also, some of the biggest multinational companies in the world actually make remote working an option for their staff on certain days, especially now that more and more millennials and generation Z employees have come to expect it as a workplace perk.


2. Remote workers are not really part of the team or company.

This misconception is largely due to the fact that remote workers are, by nature of their job, not always present in the office. While this might mean that they would miss out on discussions by the water cooler or the odd birthday lunch thrown for a colleague onsite, they still remain very much a part of the company.

The beauty of remote work is that it enables certain people to remain valuable contributors to a project or company, even if they tend to shy away or have little desire to participate in social activities outside of work.


3. There are few opportunities for growth in a remote working career.

Granted, there are still some roles that wouldn’t be suitable for remote working. Team supervisors, for instance, would need to be around to watch over the people under their jurisdiction.

However, there is room for a lot of growth in remote work, especially in terms of horizontal growth where you leverage and improve your skill set in order to take on new responsibilities within the same role.


4. Being a remote worker means you need to be available 24/7.

With all sorts of gadgets and the Internet at our disposal, it’s not unusual for many remote workers to have unconventional working schedules. Since many of us end up working for clients abroad, this might entail adjusting to their time zones, which may sometimes extend well into the night.

Still, remote workers are in no way obliged to be at their clients’ beck and call. The whole point of remote work is to shift the focus onto the results produced rather than the time spent coming up with such, so it’s all a matter of managing expectations on both sides and then communicating these effectively.


5. It’s harder to train people remotely, if at all.

Not so. Given the nature of most remote work tasks, regular Skype sessions (the share screen feature is especially handy for demonstrating processes) and hands-on exercises would suffice as training.


6. Remote workers are less productive than traditional workers.

This is not true at all. In most cases, remote workers can even be more productive since they don’t have to allot a significant portion of their day for commuting. Furthermore, remote workers can shut themselves away from the world to hunker down and engage in deep work since they don’t have to get into small talk with people in the next cubicle or so.


7. Home offices are not conducive to actual work.

Unless you’ve worked from home before, it’s hard to understand how you can actually get stuff done, especially if you have kids. If you go back to some of the previous chapters, though, you’ll see that it’s not only possible to set clear boundaries at home for your working and living areas, but that it can even allow you to provide structures for both yourself and your family as well.


8. Remote workers are awkward communicators.

A lot of remote workers are introverted by nature, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically awkward. Quite the contrary. To thrive in the remote working world, you need to be able to communicate effectively with all sorts of characters and you pick up mad skills in the process.

So, no. Remote workers might not particularly enjoy small talk, but they can level with a lot of people if it comes down to it.



Further Strategies for Handling Negative Feedback About Your Status as a Remote Worker

Sometimes, coming across people with a very dim view of remote work can be unavoidable. Distressing as this can be, there are some strategies you can employ to mitigate its effects:


1. Give yourself permission to avoid people or situations that don’t feel right and leave a situation that becomes uncomfortable.

Work on setting boundaries. It’s OK for you to do what is best for you.


2. Check in with yourself.

Ask, “How am I feeling about this?” “Does this seem right to me?” “What are the pros and cons of making this decision?”.


3. Recognize unhealthy dynamics.

It’s not OK for others to pressure, force, or trick you into doing things you don’t want to or for others to make threats if you don’t give in. It’s not OK for others to mock, belittle, shame, or criticize you for your choices. You can ask others to stop these behaviors, or you can choose to avoid spending time with people who act in these ways.


4. Spend time with people who respect your decisions.

These are the ones who won’t put unfair pressure on you to conform.


5. Remember that you can’t (and don’t have to) please everyone or be liked by everyone.

This might be hard to accept, but it can be very liberating once you do.


7. Seek out guidance or comfort from people you respect.

This could be a parent or another family member, a mentor, or perhaps even a counselor or clergy person if appropriate.