Working from home? Here's how to beat imposter syndrome

Feeling like a fraud? Here's how you can beat imposter syndrome
(Image credit: Claudio Scott / Pixabay)

Moments of self-doubt are commonplace, but with the shift to remote work and amidst lockdown 3.0, UK workers are increasingly suffering from imposter syndrome. What is it? Impostor syndrome is a belief that you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not as a result of your abilities or talents.

In fact, new data reveals trends of a steep rise in imposter syndrome amongst British office workers. With 69% now suffering from imposter syndrome (above the global average of 62%) - nearly half (45%) of those surveyed claim this has increased for them in 2020 in a remote working environment.

Following this year’s International Women’s Day with its theme of #ChooseToChallenge, we must move beyond this annual celebration and raise awareness of the gender and diversity challenges on a daily basis. To explore how individuals and organizations can enact change and achieve gender parity in the workplace, starting with imposter syndrome. While imposter syndrome manifests itself in a variety of ways, workers must find a way to combat these insecurities. With a direct connection between remote work and increased self-doubt among women in science and technology careers, here are some tips on how to overcome imposter syndrome while working from home.

Discover yourself

Have you always wanted to work in the technology sector, but been too scared to take the plunge? If yes, then you aren’t alone. While demand for technology skills continues to increase, women remain underrepresented making up a mere 17 per cent of roles. Entering a male-dominated industry can be daunting, but you mustn't let it hold you back. Instead, actively move that needle and pave a way for women in the tech sector.

While working remotely, take advantage of the added flexibility and actively seek online training and upskilling programs. You no longer need to make it to a physical classroom, instead, seek out an online course that interests you. Take a full-time course, or if particularly nervous, opt for a shorter session to provide a taster. Find an area that interests you and give it a go. Technology skills are in high demand and will remain transferable in many careers.

Find your community

As a woman working in tech, chances are that you’re one of few women on your team. With this, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. One method to combat this is to seek out a community.

A community is an invaluable way to source education, experience and networking opportunities in your professional career. While lacking face-to-face interactions, finding a community in a remote environment can be even easier than in-person with an array of communities available online that aren’t limited by your location or often even time zone. First, you must identify what you want from this group - is it education? Support in finding a job? Other like-minded women to talk to?

Once you have determined what you want from a community, you can virtually discover and connect to the one best suited to your needs such as, virtual events or LinkedIn and Clubhouse app groups. At Code First Girls, we have an active community of 20,000+ women collectively supporting women to break into and excel in the industry and we would love to have you join!

Celebrate your learnings

With imposter syndrome, individuals are less likely to acknowledge their own accomplishments. Instead of thinking about your success as achievements, think about what you’ve learned in the process. By tracking the areas you have found challenging and how these were overcome, you’ll have visual proof of your development. I’m sure you’ll find that you’ve learned a lot!

Not only will this development-tracker demonstrate that you are not an “imposter” to your own achievements; but it will also act as a great basis to go forward to your manager and showcase your results. Providing you with the confidence and evidence of your capabilities to ask for that pay-rise, promotion or new job opportunity.

Don’t compare yourself to others

At work and in your personal life it is easy to fall foul to comparisons to others. This can manifest in a multitude of ways, such as insecurities about physical appearances or jealous thoughts about a teammate’s promotion. But each person is an individual and you should celebrate your uniqueness and focus on the best that you can do.

The tech sector is vast, with plenty of opportunity and innovation to be had. Seek out your strengths and upon recognizing the areas you excel in, you will find colleagues will look to you for advice and guidance. In turn, take the time to understand your weaknesses and reach out to colleagues who are skilled in that area to learn from. Instead of “winning” over others, push yourself to be the best you can be.

Imposter syndrome isn’t a phenomenon that you can get rid of overnight, and it simply isn’t possible to be perfect all the time. Instead, as cliché as it sounds, look to accept mistakes and failure as learning experiences.

Anna Brailsford

Anna Brailsford is CEO of Code First Girls and Board Member for the Institute of Coding.