Is remote working making imposter syndrome worse?

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Jan 15, 2021

Is remote working making imposter syndrome worse?

Do you often find yourself faced with feelings of not being ‘good enough’, or that you've tricked others into thinking you're better than you are? A new study has found that you’re not alone

Imposter syndrome is on the rise, according to a study by work management tool Asana. The global study, which sampled 13,000 people – including 2,010 from the UK – has found that the levels of those experiencing imposter syndrome have hit 69%, with 45% saying this has worsened for them since working in a remote environment.

What is imposter syndrome?

Do you ever find yourself second-guessing your qualifications? Feel as though you’ve tricked those around you into accepting you? Believe everything that has happened to you is just luck? Or experience a persisting feeling of being inadequate? This is imposter syndrome.

Rooted in self-doubt, imposter syndrome tells us that we’re not good enough, or that we shouldn't have the things that we have. It’s rooted in anxiety, linked to perfectionism, and can lead to other mental health problems such as burnout and depression.

Assessing the findings, researchers from Asana have linked this increase to our switch to remote working during lockdown – with less support and communication between colleagues leaving space for anxious thoughts to manifest themselves unchecked.

Speaking to this, Asana’s head of EMEA, Simon O’Kane said: “Our latest research illustrates the increased levels of imposter syndrome, anxiety and burnout many British office workers are currently experiencing.

“With a third lockdown in place, and many now facing the prospect of more remote working in the weeks and months ahead, never has it been more important for companies to not only look after the wellbeing of their staff, but also fully understand the unique challenges their employees may be facing.”

Despite this advice, the study also found that just 19% of respondents felt confident enough to reach out to their employer to speak about the challenges that they are facing.

Speaking to Happiful about tackling imposter syndrome in the workplace, career coach and author Tessa Armstrong notes that imposter syndrome can lead us into vicious cycles of over-preparing and over-thinking tasks, which triggers self-doubt and anxiety. And it’s clear to see how that would be an easy trap to fall into while working remotely.

But there is a way out, and Tessa shares some great tips for addressing your own thinking, and catching yourself before you spiral into self-doubt.

Although it’s never easy, the first step to address any mental health problem is so often reaching out to others. Talking about mental health at work might feel strange, or stressful, but the payoff for your wellbeing could be huge.

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