Working for a 100% distributed company presents a number of benefits as well as challenges. One of those challenges is the fear of missing out or FoMO. It is a real thing.
The Fear of Missing Out is the emotional stress we can experience when we feel like things that should be important to us are occurring without our observance or involvement. Social media plays an important role in this as we experience other people’s involvement in activities that portray a perceived positive impact on their well-being. Even though we know that the world isn’t as rosy as is portrayed through these sites, we feel a tinge of jealous a number of times.
Boy that looks fun.
I can’t believe I didn’t go to that concert.
I wish I had x to do y with.
Working remote presents its own version of FoMO. The larger our company gets, the more communication channels exist. In Slack we have over 450 channels and a hoard of private blogs to communicate with. You simply cannot subscribe to every blog and channel without overloading your brain. The cost of not subscribing means you feel you’re missing out on something. How do you combat this?
We have a general rule that anything said in Slack is ephemeral. It’s searchable, yes, but unless you were pinged either directly or in a room, we can’t expect people to “catch up” on backchat when returning. More permanent things have to be documented on an internal blog if they are to be treated as such. People who should be made aware of the items that don’t belong to that team should be pinged in the post. The assumption is you should be following your team’s blog pretty closely.
This gives us the benefit to start unsubscribing to things. At some point one of these checks causes the balance to be made and information flows between barriers. You have to trust this happens. Once in a while you get surprised by a piece of information but you just roll with the punches.
The FoMO also happens when you’re in person with your coworkers. We have an annual get-together we call the Grand Meetup. We’re all at the same place at the same time for over a week. There is SO MUCH going on this week that you will miss things. You should miss things. There are so many people to meet, activities to participate in, and projects to work on that we can forget to sleep.
The fear is real. It will grip you. Remember to breathe, take a step back and trust that its okay if you don’t experience everything in life. Just don’t forget to look out your own window once in a while. :)
Featured image credit – https://www.flickr.com/photos/deathtogutenberg/15065313478/