Remote work is loved by some and with the convenience of working from home and the many benefits flexibility appears to bring. However, less seen are some of the impacts of this shift, particularly on our confidence, communication, and the consequent explosion in speaking anxiety among leaders and professionals.

Based on the real-life experiences and case studies of executive clients and leading professionals, here we aim to share how the new online work environment is amplifying the new pandemic of both personal, social, and communication confidence.

Connection Creates Confidence

During our coaching programmes, a key principle that is proven to work is the idea that “Connection Creates Confidence.”  

Whenever executives are honing their leadership speaking skills one of the many themes we coach in, is the principle of human connection. The more we feel connected, the more we feel understood, and aligned – the more we resonate and therefore feel validated. In simple terms, the art of connection creates a positive impact loop. This virtuous upward spiral drives feelings of understanding, increased energy, well-being, and ultimately self-confidence.

In the traditional office settings, personal interactions and daily commutes fostered a sense of connection and camaraderie among colleagues. Face-to-face communication provided instant feedback and the opportunity to build relationships, contributing significantly to individual confidence. With the rise of remote work, these organic connections have become casualties of virtual communication, potentially leaving employees feeling isolated and less secure in their professional abilities.

Movement, Progress, and Positive Energy

With the majority of our routines centering on our own home, you may well fall foul of the procrastination trap. Putting off the outdoor walk or jog, or even feeling it is okay to do the gym later after work. By the time you have finished your online day – most of us are suffering from tech neck and screen eyes. That feeling of exhaustion does not lend itself to activity.

Whether it is the convenient after-work gathering or the gym on the commute back home, the post-work activity propensity is definitely on the decline. This is not to suggest that all of us are giving up our life routines but working from home certainly makes the routines significantly more challenging.  

Movement and physical activity has long been associated with the creation of positive energy and enhanced cognitive function. So, the shift to sedentary work-from-home routines is undoubtedly contributing to a decrease in overall energy levels. The absence of daily commutes, office walks, and other forms of physical activity results in stagnant energy, impacting both mental and physical well-being.

And the key to understanding is that it is this decline in positive energy that is further exacerbating our communication anxiety as professionals and leaders in the workplace.

How Isolation of Working from Home is Fuel for the Confidence Pandemic

Working from home can bring about a sense of isolation and disconnection from the broader professional community. The absence of spontaneous water cooler conversations and impromptu collaborations may lead to a decrease in social confidence. Moreover, the lethargy that can accompany remote work may contribute to a lack of motivation and engagement, further hindering effective communication.

As social beings, humans crave connection and interaction. The rise of cuddle cafes in Japan highlights the fundamental human need for touch and its positive effects on mental well-being. In a world increasingly dominated by virtual communication, recognizing and addressing these basic human needs becomes paramount.

It is a natural progression to begin feeling anxious about connecting, furthermore presenting to people both online and in person becomes an unusual and out-of-comfort zone activity. Both for audiences and speakers leading to public speaking anxiety.

What we need to do to navigate the Confidence Pandemic

Taking action to counteract the confidence pandemic, is not just the duty of individuals but of all organisations.

Leaders must proactively cultivate opportunities for increased connection and the acquisition and practice of confidence and communication skills. This involves intentional efforts to bridge the gaps created by remote work, such as scheduling regular virtual meetings, participating in team-building activities on-site, and seeking opportunities for professional development that can ideally be delivered in person.

Additionally, recognising the importance of physical activity and incorporating movement into daily routines can contribute to a more positive and confident mindset.

The modernisation of work methods has undeniably brought about unprecedented changes in the way we communicate and connect professionally. However, the resulting confidence pandemic necessitates a conscious effort to adapt and refine our communication practices. By acknowledging the impact of these changes and actively working to bridge the gaps, individuals can foster a more confident, communicative, and connected virtual work environment.

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