Is technophobia stalling your success? It’s time to throw down the gauntlet and face your technology fears once and for all. Follow this simple strategy for overcoming your fear of technology so that you can live the remote work lifestyle of your dreams.
8 Tips to Overcome Your Technology Fears So You Can Work Remotely
The nature of the global workplace changes quickly, and technology is simultaneously the number one driver and subject of such change. New technology trends are generally welcome and seen as advancements rather than hindrances to success. However, there are thousands of workers out there who loathe the Internet and fear computers but want jobs that offer time flexibility and more personal freedom.
Are you one of the many professionals who desires a better work-life balance or a remote office anywhere in the world? If so, you need to address the elephant in the room. Though you don’t need to be an expert in information technology (IT) or computer programming to start a telecommuting career, you do need to work comfortably with computers and the Internet and troubleshoot your own IT issues. Here is a simple pathway to help alleviate your technophobia symptoms so that you can start building a lucrative telecommute career.
1. Identify Your Fear
In 2015, Chapman University issued a survey and found that technology ranked within America’s top 10 fears. As of 2017, however, technology fears took a backseat to government corruption, healthcare, global conflict, and environmental resource concerns. Nonetheless, the 2017 study reports that Americans are most afraid of the following technology-related matters:
- Cyberterrorism—using the Internet to impose harm on a population or information systems
- Government or corporate tracking of personal information—a violation of personal privacy
- Computers replacing people in the workforce—robots taking over the world
- Not understanding technology—fear of the mysterious cyberspace
In 2015, 19% of survey respondents were afraid of technology they didn’t understand. Despite the widespread acceptance of smartphones and cloud-based applications, the 2017 survey reports that almost 15% of Americans are still afraid. (On a lighter note, the fear of zombies took a dip from 8.5% to 5.3%, signifying that Americans are better equipped for a zombie apocalypse than they were in 2015. Good to know.)
What’s your greatest technology fear?
Are you afraid of your computer getting hacked, your information getting stolen, or organizations tracking your personal data? If so, then you need to put your information security hardhat on and educate yourself on how to avoid threats, mitigate risks, and recover from attacks. It’s just like taking any other security precaution, such as financial security, home security, or business asset security.
However, even when you set up your protection systems, you can’t control everything out there in cyberspace. Even big business and government can’t adequately protect themselves all the time because technology is everchanging and hackers are always finding new ways to sneak into systems. Remember the Equifax, Yahoo, and Target debacles? How about the NSA leaks and voter records exposure?
Aside from offering your personal information and connecting to vulnerable organizations, you’re most likely to experience a direct cyber attack by downloading a spam email attachment, visiting an unsecured website, or connecting to a public Wi-Fi network in a coffee shop. However, you can prevent such attacks and mitigate their effects by educating yourself on basic technology concepts.
Therefore, your next major hurdle is to overcome your fear of not understanding technology. The more you know, the more confident you will feel.
2. Dissolve the Mystery
People often fear computers and the Internet because a majority of the processing is invisible. When you can’t see gears moving, liquid flowing, or wheels spinning, it’s hard to make sense of what’s going on. Subsequently, you tend to feel a lack of control, which can make you feel insecure, especially when problems arise.
Think of it like car trouble. If you know nothing about auto mechanics, and your dashboard lights start flashing and dinging while you’re driving, you may feel anxious because you’re not sure what the indicators mean. So, you hastily take your car to the nearest mechanic to assess the dinging and fix whatever’s broken. However, if you understand how a car generally works, you can interpret the indicator lights, gauge the severity of the alarms, and take more appropriate action.
The same goes for computers and the Internet. Once you understand the general process of how a computer and the Internet works, then you can interpret what’s going on. For example, if a software program crashes, a webpage doesn’t load, or a file doesn’t save to the expected location, you can troubleshoot the issue on your own with less anxiety.
3. Get Excited
Transform your fear into positive energy and get excited about learning something new. Technology skills make you more marketable in the workforce and help make daily life simpler and more efficient. See the benefits of technology and how learning a few tricks can keep you up with the times and expand your potential. Plus, technology makes the telecommuting lifestyle possible.
When you embrace technology and start working from home (or anywhere in the world), you subsequently:
- Spend less idle time in traffic
- Save money on regular expenses like gas, car maintenance, lunch, and coffee
- Spend more time with family, friends, and neighbors
- Have more time to relax, travel, or fulfill other interests and passions
Instead of fearing what you don’t know, get curious about the types of tools you need to set up a home office and achieve better work-life balance. Let the freedom and flexibility that telecommuting provides be your motivation to conquer your fears and succeed.
4. Learn the Language
The tech industry has its own language, just as the healthcare, finance, and defense industries have their own languages. Grab a book on technology terms from the library or browse the web for an online tech dictionary. Look up unfamiliar words and phrases as you come across them and consider how they apply to your daily tech experiences. Start with terms like Internet, network, software, web application, cloud computing, remote connection, malware, and operating system. Keep trusted resources handy when you read descriptions in the Virtual Vocations Job Database so that you fully understand what employers expect.
When you feel overwhelmed, take a step back. Technology terms aren’t inherently complicated – it’s your fear of technology that makes them complicated. So, break definitions down into smaller components. Look up diagrams that help illustrate how the terms are connected. Try writing definitions in your own words and thinking of analogies to solidify your understanding.
As you build your vocabulary, use more tech terms in your normal speech and internal monologue. For example, when opening an application on your computer or searching for information on the Internet, try using whatever terminology you know to describe the process. Just like learning a foreign language, the more you use the terms in your daily life, the more fluent you’ll become.
5. Take a Class
If you’re a newbie to technology, consider taking in-person classes until you’re comfortable finding information and troubleshooting on your own. In-person classes let you ask specific questions, get one-on-one help, and meet other people who share your concerns. Check your local library or a neighboring community college for free and inexpensive options. You may also want to look up meetup groups and co-working spaces in your area. Such organizations sometimes offer tech education or host a network of individuals and small businesses that can help you get started.
When you build a solid foundation, sign up for online classes to supplement and advance your learning. Most online classes are self-paced so that you can take them anytime and anywhere on a computer or mobile device with either an Internet or data connection.
6. Forget Your Age
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2016, about 22.4% of the American workforce is 55 years of age or older. Many workers in this age group aren’t as comfortable with computers or the Internet as their millennial colleagues. Unfortunately, experienced workers lose confidence as they age, as younger generations surpass their technology-related capabilities.
It’s easy to feel intimidated by a younger workforce who effortlessly clicks and scrolls on handheld devices, magically making words and images appear and disappear with a tap of the finger. However, your age says nothing about your ability to learn and use new technology successfully. Instead, your willingness to learn and apply knowledge determines your success.
Avoid the temptation to blame your age for your technological shortcomings. Instead, commit to continued education so that you can fulfill your personal and professional goals.
7. Grab a Buddy
You’re not the only person in the world with technology fears. It’s likely that a friend, neighbor, or coworker is in the same boat. Ask around to see if anyone is interested in learning new tech skills and wants to join you in a class. A familiar face in the classroom can ease your anxiety and provide emotional support.
You can also take online classes with a friend to help stay on track and deepen your understanding. Divide up the lessons, teach each other the highlights, share tips, and practice speaking to each other in tech terms. If no one wants to lock arms and join you, online classrooms often have discussion boards and mentors that can provide support and one-on-one guidance.
8. Stay Current
Throughout your studies and career, research a few technology blogs and bookmark them in your web browser. Subscribe to their email newsletters and read through their latest articles. You don’t have to know every single piece of technology on the market or every single trend. Just get a general sense for the types of applications that professionals in your industry use and any new tech advancements that may affect your line of work. Staying up to date will help you feel more confident when applying for telecommute jobs.
It’s Time to Telecommute to Cyberspace
Why let technology fears hold you back from pursuing a successful telecommuting career? Remote work is rewarding and provides an opportunity to earn more freedom, advancement, and fulfillment in life. Plus, the work-at-home lifestyle isn’t just for millennials or IT professionals.
Telecommuting is a promising option for retirees who aren’t ready to leave the workforce or who need to supplement their retirement or Social Security income. From full-time employment to part-time contract jobs, remote work offers something for every skill set and work style.
Would you like to travel the world for a few years? Spend summers or winters on the coast? Visit your kids and grandkids around the country whenever you want? Telecommuting can beef up your pocketbook on a flexible schedule so that you can do more of what you enjoy.
Resist the urge to settle for the status quo or let your age and current knowledge dictate your future. Instead, boldly face your technology fears, build a new arsenal of knowledge and experience, and launch your telecommuting career into cyberspace!
Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/RichVintage; 2. iStock.com/Tassii
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