Remote Wellbeing

How 'Creeping Apathy' could be affecting your motivation at work

Alistair Shepherd-Cross | President & Co-Founder at Teamit
January 27, 2022
3 min read

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Teamit has been helping growth-focused companies across North America recruit, cultivate and sustain high-performing remote technical teams for many years. We’ve been leaders in the space since before the pandemic hit and forced everyone to become remote – whether they liked it or not. What has transpired over the last 18 months within the workplace is unprecedented and as a champion of remote work and a long-time believer in the distributed workplace, I feel workplaces are better because of it. Sure, there are challenges, but as we inch closer to a world where we once again have a choice as to how we structure our workforces, the pros significantly outweigh the cons.

The impact of remote work on mental health within the workplace is one area that has received a lot of attention and rightly so. There is no doubt that it is a complex issue with many components that are unique to each person, so I am not suggesting for a second that this brief article is trying to address this topic. But, from a personal perspective, I wanted to share my insights.

As a positive and upbeat person who likes to be around people, I was surprised how I was able to adapt so quickly to the virtual world. It seemed to me that the interactions I got from virtual calls were enough to satisfy my desire for human contact. I was motivated and energized by the new workplace and had never felt more productive. However, as the novelty started to wear off, I have noticed one consistent challenge which I have had to deal with. I’m calling it “Creeping Apathy.” Just as it sounds, it creeps up and, slowly but surely, sucks away your energy and motivation making you less productive, less creative and less effective. Am I depressed? No. Am I unhappy? No. Would anyone realize a change in me? Probably not. When things happen slowly, it is hard to notice that you are inching your way to the cliff edge.  

I am sure we have all learned things about ourselves from the pandemic experience that surprised us and sometimes it’s hard to see or admit. For me, it’s that I am more of a loner than I ever realized, and if not forced into or required to socialize and interact with others in a meaningful way, I can become distant, self-absorbed and less about the team and more about me. So, I ask you to indulge me and look inwardly at the traits you didn’t realize you had that the pandemic has exposed which create your own "Creeping Apathy". It’s different for everyone, but the result, if left unchecked, is the same. A person running with half a tank of gas.

Here are some techniques I use:

  • For me, early intervention and an honest self-assessment of myself have been the key. Just like scuba diving, you need to clear your mask regularly before it becomes too foggy to see.

  • I find engaging in group exercise is vital as it kills two birds with one stone. It’s fun to organize, gets me connected with friends and then I get to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors that fills me with so much positivity.

  • I celebrate my wins weekly and have learned not to be so hard on myself. When you are left alone with your thoughts, it’s easy to focus on the negatives rather than the positives.

  • I need to do or say something positive to someone every day without there being any obvious benefit to myself.

  • I need to stay interested in others and what is going on in their lives. Keep an inquisitive and open mind.

Final thought: Be vulnerable with yourself.

About the author

Alistair Shepherd-Cross | President & Co-Founder at Teamit

For the last 20 years, Alistair has had a front-row seat to the tech industry's ups and downs as a trusted advisor to some of the tech industry's most successful businesses in both Canada and the U.S. As a tech recruiting specialist, he has connected Canada's top tech talent with companies as they scale, and has a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities for leaders pursuing high-performing teams in challenging times.