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Remote work and high sensitivity: can it work?

25.02.2022
Hochsensibilität und Remote Work
rexx systems news
Remote work and high sensitivity: can it work?
25.02.2022

A good sensitivity for bad moods and emerging conflicts, an enormous striving for perfectionism, a pronounced sense of justice – highly sensitive people in the workplace stand out due to their special characteristics. Research on high sensitivity is still in its infancy. And yet scientists assume that around 15 to 20 percent of all people are highly sensitive. This results in special requirements for employers, managers and colleagues. And also with regard to dealing with remote work, highly sensitive people need special rules in order to be able to deal with the situation well.

High sensitivity – what is it?

High sensitivity is not a disease, but more like a gift or character trait. Whether it is congenital or can be acquired later has not yet been conclusively clarified. Although it is often an enormous burden for those affected, it can also evoke many positive qualities. Typical characteristics of highly sensitive people are:

  • They feel stimuli more than others.

  • They are often above average intelligent.

  • You perceive subtleties in more detail and with great speed and precision.

  • They cannot perceive stimuli in a filtered way – they flow to them unfiltered.

  • You have a very strong intuition and a high sense of justice.

  • You have an eye for detail and value quality.

  • At work, they are often perceived as very conscientious.

  • They often have a positive effect on the working atmosphere and contribute to harmony.

Highly sensitive people quickly suffer from overstimulation when confronted with many stimuli – noise, many people or changing lighting conditions. They then retire and look for peace and seclusion. In private, they are often seen as rude or unsociable, as they move away from events when they are overstimulated. However, this is not the case; it is rather an escape from being overwhelmed.

Highly sensitive at work

Hochsensible und Remote-Work

Highly sensitive and remote work Many highly sensitive people know early on that they are different from other people, but cannot classify this. But they recognize their talents and often choose jobs in which they can use them. For example in adult education, in the health or social sector. However, these professions in particular often do not offer the ideal conditions in the workplace that highly sensitive people need to maintain their health and ability to work. The optimal working environment should meet these requirements:

  • Low irritation, without too much noise, through traffic or bad light (if necessary, remedy this with headphones)

  • better small or even individual offices instead of open-plan offices

  • independent determination of the course of the working day

  • encouraging, constructive feedback on the work results

  • Promotion of individual skills

  • harmonious working atmosphere

  • possibilities of withdrawal

  • Alternation between exciting and quiet work phases

  • no exaggerated control of work results

  • respectful interaction on the part of colleagues and managers

  • fair treatment of the employee himself as well as his colleagues

Highly sensitive in the home office: opportunity or risk?

Remote work can be a unique opportunity for highly sensitive people to better tailor their workday to their needs. Here they can divide their working hours largely freely and create a low-stimulus environment in which they can make full use of their talents. The home office or a freely chosen workplace as part of remote work can even increase performance.

Hochsensible im HomeofficeHighly sensitive in the home officeBut: Highly sensitive are – in well-dosed units – very social people who need to exchange ideas with others. And the team also benefits from the colleague’s high level of empathy, which has a harmonizing effect. In addition, highly sensitive people need regular feedback from their manager.

Managers face the challenge of finding the right degree of integration into the team and freedom. A hybrid work model could be ideal for highly sensitive people, which allows for personal contact in the office on site as well as retreating into your own four walls for quieter work phases.

The best tips for successful remote work by highly sensitive people

In order for highly sensitive people to feel comfortable in the home office, they should heed these tips:

  1. regular alternation between work and break times (better many short breaks than one long one)

  2. healthy eating

  3. movement in between

  4. a tranquil environment (e.g., with nature photographs on the wall and soothing essential oils in the air)

  5. Breathing and relaxation exercises

  6. small rewards for successfully completed projects

Why it is important to specifically support highly sensitive people

Hochsensible Mitarbeitende fördern

Encourage highly sensitive employeesWhether in the home office or in the office: Employers should identify and specifically encourage highly sensitive employees by creating the right framework conditions. If their needs are not taken into account, this can not only lead to a flight reflex – i.e. to dismissal – but also to health.

Persistent sensory overload from which the person concerned cannot escape leads to mental stress. The nerves can no longer process the abundance of unfiltered information. In the short term, absorbency diminishes, as does efficiency. The employee is closer to exhaustion more quickly. In the long run, this can be accompanied by physical symptoms such as stomach pain, high blood pressure, circulatory fluctuations or digestive problems. In the worst case, anxiety, panic attacks, depression or other mental illnesses develop.

Highly sensitive people often go beyond their own boundaries in order to conform to societal norms. Instead of accepting this and taking time off in time, their empathy and empathy forces them to put their talents at the service of others. They therefore tend to develop states of exhaustion or even burnout more easily. A well thought-out health promotion concept by the employer can prevent this, as can careful handling of highly sensitive colleagues.

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