Reduce Workplace Fear With a Virtual Office

TORONTO—Some are scared by ghosts. Others are scared by goblins. But most modern workers are more afraid of making a mistake on their job.

Whether they work in virtual offices in Toronto or traditional offices in Los Angeles—or some arrangement in between—29 percent of respondents in an Accountemps survey say their biggest workplace fear is making a mistake.

Beyond making errors on the job, workers  also cite other fears, such as dealing with difficult customers or clients (17%); speaking in front of a group of people (16%); conflicts with coworkers (14%); conflicts with your manager (12%). When you work from a virtual office, you can avoid some of those fears. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

"A fear of failure is natural and can be a good motivator in healthy doses, but workers can't let their concerns lessen their confidence," says Gena Griffin, Canadian district president of Accountemps. "In order to grow in their careers, professionals must be willing to tackle challenges head on and move beyond their comfort zones. Even smart risks that don't pan out can help individuals discover new ideas and better ways of doing things."

Like successful trick-or-treating, navigating frightening workplace situations requires forethought and the right approach. Accountemps offers five tips:

1. Plan your route. A 20-page to-do list would scare anyone and is a recipe for mistakes on the job. To ease workload-related worries—and be more efficient -- prioritize your responsibilities, and delegate when possible. Virtual offices can help you work more efficiently and productively.

2. Ask for directions. When facing a challenging project or new responsibilities, make sure you know what is expected of you. If you have concerns, let your manager know, and work with him or her to develop a strategy for overcoming them.

3. Bring a friend. Don't be afraid to tap a mentor for advice on a particularly devilish challenge. When preparing a critical project or communication, ask a confidant for his or her feedback.

4. Say "thanks." Whether it's for candy or help with a difficult task, a sincere thank-you can go a long way toward building strong business relationships.

5. Give out treats. Volunteer to assist overburdened colleagues, and be quick with praise for those who deliver outstanding work. You'll make people—including yourself—feel good and foster an environment where colleagues help each other on a regular basis.

When you work from a virtual office, you don’t have to speak in front of other people. Or if you do, it’s only via Skype, so they can’t see your knees knocking. When you work from a virtual office, you can avoid conflicts with coworkers and managers over silly things, like who gets the corner office or who ate your lunch out of the community refrigerator. Virtual offices can’t do away with all your fears, but virtual offices can certainly help you avoid a good number of mistakes.


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