Remote work: Social anxiety and the Fear-of-missing-out (FOMO)

How leaders can help to combat feelings of FOMO and get the most out of work //

What is FOMO? FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) encompasses the idea that employees are feeling detached from their normal routine. Some employees may feel that something is missing from their working lives and that they are cut adrift from their colleagues. Feelings of FOMO have risen in recent years.

How has FOMO affected the lives of employees? FOMO has become increasingly worrying for employers. As constant social media checking has become an everyday habit, more employees are struggling to log out mentally after a long day of work. The need to check emails has compounded this. Employees feel they have to send off one more email and want to be seen as being productive. They want to make sure they finish all their work as there’re no set start and finishing times for remote working but employees need to switch off and turn off emails. As an employer, the welfare and health of your employees should be of paramount importance. While there is an element of disconnection when working remotely, video meetings can help replicate an office environment and interaction. Employees like to keep in touch with their colleagues and a weekly catch up is a good way of doing this. Tools like Zoom can facilitate this and you could carry out activities such as informal information sharing to boost morale.

Changing the focus of FOMO. While FOMO can impact some more employees more than others, there are strategies that can help deal with this. Changing the focus to make people feel like they are included will go some way to rectifying FOMO. Encourage people who feel disconnected or disenfranchised to feel that they are part of a team. Incorporate fun things during those weekly video calls, such as quizzes so that people can participate, which will help them to forget about their FOMO at least for a few hours during this time. With FOMO, there will be some workers that will be desperately missing colleagues. A natter at someone’s desk helped break up the working routine. Now, new ways have to be found to keep conversations going as working remotely can stir up feelings of isolation and loneliness. People respond in different ways to changes and adaptation can be harder for some than others. Being empathetic can help foster a culture of trust and respect. Getting an entire team to pull in the same direction can be challenging. During times of remote working, there should be an element of leniency, so leaders shouldn’t be hard on your colleagues when they are struggling.

How to lead against FOMO? Now more than ever, communication is vital! With more tools at our disposal, it should be easier. Screen sharing and video conferencing can help with this and should be embraced to make teams more tightly knit, reducing FOMO. Maintaining informal ties works against FOMO, although this is challenging in an online environment. However, there are tool available that are of help. GatherTown is great for creating a space for coffee breaks so leaders can have a chat and network informally with their staff, much as they – hopefully – used to do in person. Leaders should take the time to invest in their employees emotionally so that, in turn, employees can confide in their boss when they encounter difficulties working at home. Embrace new management techniques so that employees can confide in you.

It can be easy to disengage from your employees while working remotely. This is why reaching out is essential. Check in on your employees and encourage them to reach out to friends and coworkers to alleviate these feelings.

Published by Sven Horak

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