Everyone has a comfort zone, right? That special place where routine and familiarity provide us with a feeling of safety. For many of us, that sense of predictability in the workplace appears to be a positive aspect of the job. However, research suggests it could simply mean we’re stuck in a rut and stifling our creativity in the office.
At work, you may have been in the role for so long that you can anticipate every aspect of your job, including your colleagues’ behaviour, the everyday tasks and how to solve challenges. Unfortunately, research shows staying in your comfort zone can mean you’re missing out on new challenges and the chance to move forward and grow.
By moving out of your comfort zone, you can increase creativity and productivity, while improving your ability to cope with change. No-one wants to suffer excess stress at work but doing new things that give you a small amount of anxiety can be good for you. If you’ve slipped into a rut, it can provide the buzz you need to get you back on track.
Benefits of stepping outside your comfort zone
If you fear you’ve slipped into a rut, there can be many benefits to trying something different. In practical terms, it will provide you with new skills and enhance your employment portfolio. You can use them in day-to-day work and also add them to your CV. This helps you to develop not only as an employee, but also as a person.
Life is all about taking on new challenges and testing yourself, rather than slipping into complacency. This can be great for building confidence, as you’re taking on something that you’ve never considered before. When you realise you can succeed in your new duties or job role, this boosts your confidence automatically. According to psychologists, it can improve mental health and help prevent depression.
While stepping out of your comfort zone might feel uncomfortable at first, going for it can improve your ability to deal with the discomfort and stress in everyday life.
What are the common issues employees face?
Research shows that we can face all kinds of challenges that cause us to step outside our comfort zone. Answering the phone or making a call can cause anxiety at work, with 62% of all employees admitting they haven’t picked up a call in the office in the past 12 months.
Those who have phone anxiety say they feel their heart start to pound faster in their chest, or feel hot and clammy, as they pick up the phone to make a call. When they finally dial the number, they hope the other person won’t answer and feel relieved if they don’t.
Younger workers aged 18 to 30 are more likely to suffer from telephobia, possibly because they come from a generation of texts, instant messages and emails, so they don’t talk on the phone as often as their older colleagues. Talking to customers is another cause of anxiety, as employees fear “looking stupid” if they can’t answer the customers’ queries.
Attending a meeting, proposing new ideas and asking questions are anxieties suffered by 67% of employees. They have a fear of speaking up at work or taking centre stage at a meeting. One-third of employees said they would even turn down their dream job if it involved more meetings and extra public speaking.
How to break free from your comfort zone
If this sounds like you, there are ways you can break free from your comfort zone. A coworking space is an ideal environment for people who are feeling introverted – it will help you overcome your fears and move forward.
Coworking spaces provide a great opportunity to widen your circle and network. People who have anxiety issues may shy away from this type of environment, but in reality, it can help you thrive.
Contrary to common belief, people who fear stepping outside their comfort zone don’t usually feel happy or satisfied with their lot. While they manage networking and interaction in small doses, many times they wish they could feel more comfortable when doing so. However, they often don’t push themselves to overcome their fears.
A coworking environment helps you to do this naturally. Start by getting to know the people around you. Rather than striking up a conversation with a group, start a smaller one-to-one chat with colleagues sitting immediately around you.
As soon as you’ve taken the first step and broken the ice, you’ll start feeling more comfortable. Even striking up some small talk with your colleagues can be useful, as you may end up contributing something meaningful without really trying.
Attending work-related events
Conversations help us to integrate better within our surroundings and push us to leave our comfort zone to be part of something bigger. Attending work-related events is part of the process. While you might dread networking, try to attend at least some of the events organised by the working space itself, or a band of coworkers.
While attending an event can be daunting to some, going at least once in a while will help any introvert to feel part of the team. Once you’ve taken the plunge, they can be a useful way of breaking the ice, making new connections and improving your conversational and networking skills. The event itself can provide some common ground and make chatting easier.
During the day, you can recharge your battery at a coworking space whenever you feel the need, as the flexibility is an added bonus. You’re not tied to set break times and if you need a quick five minutes to gather your thoughts, this is possible.
Over time, as long as you keep pushing yourself to leave your comfort zone, it will become easier. You may discover talents you didn’t realise you had and begin enjoying yourself more in the workplace, which will further boost your confidence and potentially kick start your future career.
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