Confidence in a Distributed Workplace: 5 Tips to Boost Your Remote Team Productivity
Navigating a 100% remote workplace can be tricky, especially when you’re not exactly the most confident person in the world. The good news is, we’ve put together five confidence-boosting tips that’ll help you tune in to virtual office vibes in a jiffy.
Here are a handful of questions we answer in this article:
- ✊ Daring, tenacity, grit… what’s confidence anyway?
- 📈 How to build confidence in a remote workplace?
- 👹 What do remote workers fear the most?
- ♟️ Is WFH loneliness always a bad thing?
- 💡 How to learn from failures like a pro?
- 🤝 When and how should you ask for help?
Let’s get started! 🚀
How Do You Define Confidence? 🤔
1. self-assurance: trust in one’s abilities, capacities, and judgment.
2. a belief that one is capable of successfully meeting the demands of a task.
— APA Dictionary of Psychology(1)
Most of the time, confidence stems from the certainty that you have the skills and expertise to get things done. Whether that means asking for a raise or scaling the slopes of Eyjafjallajökull*, you just feel you’re the right person for the job (sort of).
But it’s not always that easy.
Sometimes the task is simply above your pay grade. You have no clue what to do or where to start. To make matters worse, there’s nobody around to ask for advice.
Nothing you can do about that, right?
Luckily, this is where tenacity and determination kick in. Even though your gut tells you to back off and call it quits, you still rise to the challenge and persist until you’re done.
Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you don’t.
The keyword here is “try.”
Typically, we associate confidence with challenges we want or have to overcome. And boy oh boy, the modern remote workplace is ripe with those:
- 🙊 Video/phone anxiety
- 🧩 Lack of guidance and support
- 🏝 Loneliness and isolation
- ☢️ Toxic work culture
- 🤦♀️ Nonconstructive criticism
- 🔌 Technical difficulties
- 🤯 Distractions at home
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Millions of remote workers overcome these fears and obstacles every single day, and for many good reasons. 👇
The Value of Confidence in a Remote Workplace 🏆
1. Confidence Keeps Teams Connected 🐺
When you’re part of a 100% remote workplace, there’s no way around regular, effective communication. Whether you like it or not, video meetings, emails, and conference calls are integral parts of the remote groove.
If you lack the confidence to interact with other people, jump on a call, or speak out during a video meeting, you’re up for some serious trouble.
Dodging team interactions is a foolproof way to disconnect — figuratively speaking — from team life.
Don’t get us wrong, not everybody has to be a “people person.” That would be very boring and extremely annoying, don’t you think?
True confidence means that you’re willing to push against natural inclinations and challenge yourself to take initiative. Think about that next time you dial in to a meeting or pick up the phone.
2. Confidence Drives Positive Change 🏃♀️
As William Thackeray once wrote:
“Let the man who has to make his fortune in life remember this maxim. Attacking is his only secret. Dare, and the world always yields: or, if it beat you sometimes, dare again, and it will succumb.”
Putting Thackeray’s words into perspective, there’s no change without the tenacity to against the grain and challenge the status quo.
Not sure where to start?
Let’s say your team has a tradition of running hour-long video meetups. They’re repetitive, boring, and unproductive. But nobody cares.
Would you rather stick with the herd and waste more time or find a solution?
The motion doesn’t have to be big. You can volunteer to write a more concise agenda or suggest quick sync-up meetings instead. Only action can drive change.
3. Confidence Boosts Productivity ⚡️
Confidence and productivity? Well, it turns out that the two can mix into a potent and highly volatile concoction.
As Steven Pressfield reasons in his bestselling book The War of Art:
“How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.”
The more you trust your ability to get work done, the less likely you are to put that work off. Even if you end up facing failure or criticism (more on that in a bit), you know that you’ve given it all you had.
When you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you set more realistic deadlines, don’t stall decisions or shun responsibility.
Confidence grounded in competence helps you take initiative, make better professional and personal choices, be there for your team members before they even ask.
And that seems like a good start, right?
5 Ways to Build Confidence in a Remote Workplace 🔥
1. Challenge Your Fears 👹
Remote or not, one of the best ways to beef up your confidence is to face your worst “remote” fears head-on. Psychologists call this concept “exposure therapy.”
According to the American Psychological Association:
“When people are fearful of something, they tend to avoid the feared objects, activities, or situations. Although this avoidance might help reduce feelings of fear in the short term, over the long term it can make fear become even worse.”(2)
Exposing yourself to difficult situations and people in a controlled manner will gradually make the experience a tad easier to handle.
Here are some of the most common “remote” fears and possible solutions:
- ☎️ Phone anxiety. Don’t wait for people to call you. Prepare notes, write down questions, and fight the battle on your terms.
- 🤳 Video calls. Learn a few icebreakers and spend some extra time polishing the agenda. Practice video calls with family and friends.
- 🤯 Difficult tasks. Accept the possibility of failure. Volunteer, find help, prioritize research, and learn as much as you can in the process.
- 🗣 Criticism. Proactively ask for feedback on your work. Show the initiative and welcome constructive criticism. Be humble about it.
- ✋ Career stalemate. Learn a new skill, enroll in a course, rinse and repeat. Don’t wait for the “right moment.” It’ll never come.
Don’t try to avoid struggle. It’s the natural part of the learning process. The more hardship you endure, the faster your confidence will grow.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help 👋
Regardless of how gifted you are, you can’t do everything on your own. And true confidence means that you’re ready to ask for help when things get out of hand.
The good news is that a remote workplace doesn’t have to be a lonely place. But first, let’s see what you’re dealing with exactly.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- ❌ “What tasks give me the most trouble?”
- 📱 “Can I say no to distractors?”
- 🙇♂️ “How often do I procrastinate?”
- 👁 “Do I need more face time with the team?”
- 🧘♀️ “How’s my work-life balance?
- 🔕 “Do I know when to unplug?”
- 🤝 “Am I getting enough support?”
Once you’ve identified the obstacles, it’s time to reach out for help. Here’s a piece of advice from Bryan E. Robinson Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte:
“Integrate more time into your productive schedule for virtual human interactions with co-workers and friends and face-to-face time with family members. Protect your personal domain from electronic leashes, and know when to turn them off.”(3)
Look for role models around your remote workplace and seek their advice. As long as the spirit of companionship is strong, you’ll get all the help you need.
3. Just Do It (And Prepare to Fail) 🔥
Let’s face it, You won’t always have all the resources and skills to get work done. Heck, most of the time you won’t even have a plan B to fall back on.
But that doesn’t mean you can sit back and enjoy the view.
Here’s what you should do instead:
- 🎭 Accept the possibility of failure. Don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from taking action. It’s a natural part of the process.
- 🎰 Take calculated risks. A good plan that sees closure is better than a great plan that’s, well…only a plan. Consider the risk and take initiative.
- 🗣 Don’t avoid confrontation. Difficult conversations are best served steaming hot. Avoid them for too long and you’ll only make it worse.
- 🤝 Accept and digest criticism. Constructive criticism is an invaluable companion in personal and professional development. Use it well.
Let’s say you’re leading a remote team and one of your employees starts slipping. They dodge meetings, log in late and notoriously miss deadlines. Not good.
Would you confront the employee and diffuse the situation before it escalates? Or would you rather wait it out and hope it’d solve itself?
The tricky thing about confidence is that the more you delay doing something, the less likely you’re to finish the task. If you let the situation simmer for too long, it’ll eventually start affecting the performance of the entire team.
Sometimes the best way to drive confidence through the roof is to stop chewing the situation over and JUST DO IT. Thanks, Shia. 👊
4. Always Be One Step Ahead 🧠
“Ok, but what if the task is totally out of my league?”
Well, if you have absolutely no clue where to start and there’s nobody around to ask, your best bet is to dig into the matter, learn as much as you can, and just start (see #3).
Ok… let’s talk about it.
The awful truth is that true confidence falters when you don’t prepare in advance. Or, as good ol’ Ben Franklin puts it: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”
Here’s what you can do to prevent that:
- 🤝 Tag team with senior teammates.
- 🗄️ Contribute to your team’s knowledge.
- ❤️ Engage in virtual skills-based volunteering.
- 🧠 Sign up for courses and tuitions.
- 📄 Dig into knowledge bases and wikis.
- 📈 Ask your manager for additional work.
Start with the little things.
If you’re not the best public speaker, get religious about preparing crisp agendas. If you want to polish soft skills, invite senior colleagues to a virtual coaching session.
It’s like learning a new language. You may not know all the grammar rules, but as long as you put in the time and effort to learn the vocabulary, you’ll find your way.
5. Make Friends with Loneliness 🏝
Hear that? That’s the beautiful sound of silence. And that’s something you have to get used to if you’re part of a 100% remote workplace.
Once all the meetings, daily stand-ups, and video conferences are over, your team will get back to their work. And that’s where doubt and anxiety kick in.
- “What if I get stuck?”
- “Who do I ask for help?”
- “What do I do next?”
- “Are they talking behind my back?”
- “Where do I find motivation?”
Being alone is the ultimate test of your confidence. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult to pass. All you have to do is follow a handful of simple tips:
- 🛶 Acknowledge that your co-workers are in the same boat.
- 🔌 Use the “offline” time to tackle deep, meaningful work.
- 🗓️ Intentionally put “me time” on your daily work schedule.
- ☝️ Make sure you always know what to do next (see #4).
- 🎞 Play a movie on mute to keep you company (it works!).*
As for that last piece of advice, here’s Tim Ferriss’ original take on the matter:
“[…] Casino Royale to The Bourne identity. You can see a theme there. But then there’s stuff like Babe, oddly enough. I’ll put it on mute and just loop those movies over and over again so I don’t feel as lonely as I would sitting in my house, in the dark, writing.”(4)
Remote work is an uncanny combination of autonomy and tribal allegiance. And since building confidence is a holistic process, you should put in the work to master both.
Need help navigating your home office? Check these articles for some ideas:
- 🦥 Slacking at Home? WFH Anti-Procrastination Tips
- 📙 Work From Home: A Pocket-Sized Guide
- 🏡 Remote Work 101: Essential Tips for Working From Home
- 🖥️ Designing a Minimalist Home Office in 6 Easy Steps
Confidence is like a muscle. Every time you expand your skillset, seek new challenges, and set ambitious goals, it’ll grow and get stronger. But it’s a two-way street.
The moment you start avoiding responsibility, dodging difficult tasks, and seeking or the easy way out, your confidence will suffer, and with it the effectiveness of your team.
And that’s it!
✋ Before you go… want to learn more about remote workplace dynamics? Be sure to read other articles on the Taskade blog:
- 👊 How to Foster Remote Workplace Camaraderie
- 🧘 A Holistic Approach to Remote Leadership
- 💣 Diffusing Conflict in Distributed Teams
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