Without question, the business world has been changed and "business as usual" is no longer the case, and it may likely never be again. For those who are fortunate to still have gainful employment, the change in responsibilities has created a new focus on how work is performed. Those who are essential workers must guard their lives in a manner unlike anything they could have imagined. Those who made a transition from working in an office environment to becoming remote employees may now find themselves feeling a sense of performing in isolation.
One of the challenges for becoming a remote employee is the lack of interactions and camaraderie available in a physical office environment. This is an especially difficult learning curve for those who were used to working in an open office environment and had the sounds of activity ever present during the workday. Now at home, the only aspect of the job each day to focus upon is the required tasks. There are no diversions, unless there is some type of web meeting, conference call, or traditional call. Suddenly the day no longer involves "water cooler" talk or anything else interesting; it requires undivided attention to the task at hand.
This reminds me of the time when I made a transition 15 years ago from being a Manager of Training and Development in a corporate office environment, to teaching in an online classroom. There was a similar sense of feeling disconnected at first, from the employer and its employees, and not knowing how to fit in or engage with others. When I was in the virtual classroom, or attending faculty meetings, I began to develop a sense of belonging; and yet this took time to fully experience. The feeling of being an outsider when working as a virtual employee was very real and is for many who work in this manner as well.
I also experienced a learning curve with my ability to adapt to communicating by written words alone. As someone who spent the first half of his career speaking and presenting in person, this was a very new experience for me. It took some time and practice to be able to effectively convey my thoughts in an academic and professional manner through classroom posts and messages. Yet I found it was something I enjoyed, since I was first an online learner and had the initial experience of engaging with others in this environment. However, learning to adapt does not always result in the same outcome for everyone who has to switch to working virtually.
When the focus changes from working in an office to becoming a remote employee, it can highlight underlying feelings about dissatisfaction with the job. These are the negative feelings which may have been overlooked because of the enjoyment experienced interacting with coworkers and/or a supervisor, or any other positive reasons. Now that the focus is on the job alone, the negative feelings may be difficult to ignore. If this is the case for you, and you are finding it difficult to enjoy or tolerate your job, there are strategies you can use to bring some joy back as you adapt to a new normal. While it is possible a job change is the ultimate solution, at least for your well-being now you can find a means of coping with your job in a manner that allows you to feel a sense of calm.
Make Time for Introspection
If you experienced changes in how you perform your job duties, which for most meant leaving the office, the most important first step to take will be the need for introspection. More than likely you were put into a situation that occurred suddenly and with little time to prepare. This would have caused feelings within that you may or may not have yet acknowledged. It is time to go back to the moment when the changes began and reflect upon how you felt and what your reactions were when you had to switch where and how you work. This will help prepare you for the strategies to follow, as you consider your ongoing feelings and reactions to your job and your performance.
How to Find Joy in a Job You No Longer Enjoy or Simply Tolerate
You can begin to find joy again in your job, even if this means you resolve the initial reaction to the changes experienced and decide to find new employment. It is possible you will also see your job in a different light and be able to adapt to the new working conditions, leading to an improved sense of well-being overall.
Strategy #1: Reflection on How it Began
Looking back at the transition for your job and how it began, how did you feel? Were there any aspects of the transition that caused internal negativity? This is a time to reflect upon the initial time period without any sense of blaming yourself for the way you felt, just allowing yourself to accept the initial feelings. If there were no noticeable negative feelings, recognize that as well. Either way, take note of the beginning transition to prepare for the next set of strategies to follow.
Strategy #2: Separate Feelings from the Job
Now that you have developed a clear sense of the initial transition, and how you felt or reacted to it, this next strategy involves separating your feelings from the job. This involves making a determination of what actually caused you to become upset. Was it the job requirements that triggered the feelings? Or was it the nature of the change and the events surrounding it that created negative feelings? This is important as you want to determine if there is any sense of unhappiness still with the job, once you take away negative feelings that were created as a result of the circumstances which led to the initial transition.
Strategy #3: Assess Your Job Performance
At this point you should know if you have developed negative feelings about the circumstances, the job, or both. For this strategy, mentally self-assess your job performance. Consider how you performed on the job before you had to make a transition to work as a remote employee for example. Then evaluate your performance after the transition. Have there been any changes? If so, what do you attribute those changes to since the transition? Can you evaluate those changes without feelings, positive or negative? It will help your assessment if you can become objective in the analysis and not use feeling statements.
Strategy #4: Assess Your Career Goals
After you have evaluated your job performance, another helpful strategy would be the assessment of your career goals. Consider why you accepted this job offer and how it is contributing to your overall career plan. What skills have you gained and will continue to acquire as a result of what you will learn? If the primary purpose of this job is to maintain financial stability for your household, is it possible you are still gaining knowledge of yourself and what your capacity is as an employee? If you do not have career goals established, this would be an excellent time to establish them and ascertain how you can continue to develop and grow professionally. Every job you hold will contribute something of value to your career.
Strategy #5: Develop a Mindset Tune-Up
By the time you have completed the first four strategies, you should be in a productive frame of reference. You have worked to identify triggering emotions due to circumstances, separate emotions from your job, and evaluate your career goals. Now you are ready to tune-up your mindset and prepare yourself to get back to work with a fresh new perspective. Is your work going to magically change? No. However, you are going to view it from a new perspective, one that is free of negativity. This is a job you can and have performed.
Now you need to continue to adapt to conditions which have changed, and you acknowledge you are capable of rising to the challenge. You can become focused on the task at hand, and discover methods of connecting with others in this new environment, to avoid feeling alone or disengaged. You know that even though you are working alone, you are never working in isolation. These strategies have also taught you to monitor how you feel and by acknowledging the negative feelings, it is possible to resolve those feelings and bring joy back into the day.
To Discover Joy is To Know Peace of Mind
For anyone who feels as if they are just tolerating their job, and they are now working from their home or remotely, the job requirements can quickly lead to a sense of dread. Any sense of enjoyment can soon dissipate as unresolved feelings are never properly addressed. The days begin to blend into one another and it seems as if there is nothing positive to say about the job, other than it produces a paycheck. Those feelings will likely spill over into the person's job performance and show up in less-than-enthusiastic results. Perhaps the job was better tolerated in a physical office environment when co-workers were present and perks were available. But now as a remote job by itself, tolerance and enjoyment are challenging to experience.
The circumstances in the world itself are certainly stressful enough now, and to add to it a job that cannot be enjoyed or even tolerated, is going to weigh heavily on the health and well-being of remote employees. These are a group of employees who cannot be seen to know how they are adapting, other than by an occasional webcam meeting, and even then, it can be challenging to ascertain their state of mind. This is why any change must be done on an individual basis, and it begins by acknowledging what was felt at the transition and working through to the point when a mindset tune-up can occur. No one can change your view of a job but you.
You have to decide that you want to feel better, regardless of how circumstances around you may be, or how difficult your work transition has been. When you take that first step, you are on the path to rediscovery and healing. It is possible to experience joy with your job, no matter how challenging it may be. You are contributing not only to the success of your role; you are contributing to the success of your team and your employer. You are also demonstrating to yourself you are adaptable to demanding times and have a capacity to learn. These are but some of the many reasons why you will be able to feel and experience joy in your career once again.
About Dr. Johnson
Dr. Johnson has worked in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005. He specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, online teaching, career management, and career development. Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA. Presently Dr. J is a Core Faculty member for one of the premiere online universities, fulfilling his life's mission to teach, mentor, write, and inspire others.
As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has also published over 200 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and career development.
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