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#dianainitiative2019: Save Remote Workers From Burnout

Speaking at the Diana Initiative conference in Las Vegas on “Working Remote Can Be Overwhelming and Lonely, Let's Change That,” Suzanne Pereira acknowledged that working from home can be attractive, as you “don’t get dressed and can do errands all day and go to lunch with friends,” and you will be told “you’re the luckiest person ever.” However, Pereira, whose 12 years in infosec include 10 years of working remotely, said that the reality is you can be pulled in many different directions at once, which can lead to burnout.

She said: “You can feel lonely and isolated and feel stressed." You wonder "if you’re doing something wrong as everyone tells you you’re lucky....Why do you not feel that way and why are you always stressed out?”

She recommended setting yourself guidelines of creating a working space out of the way and setting time limits for when you are working. Yet she acknowledged that this is an industry “where we like to learn and grow and research and work on something to make you better,” so when you work from 8 am to 11 pm, be clear that this is your own decision.

She recommended taking travel opportunities and joining video conferences to form better relationships. She also recommended saying no when appropriate. It can be a scary word, she said, but use it to be your own advocate to avoid taking on “something you cannot finish.”

“Also have no-calls or -messaging time, as [not having it] leads to burnout,” Pereira said. “Do a 9–5 and take no calls after that....If there is a message you will look at it tomorrow.”

The right balance can lead to “being less overwhelmed," Pereira concluded, "and it takes a lot of effort to say no, but the balance leads you to being less overwhelmed.”

Asked what a company can do to make life better for remote workers, Pereira said that companies should incorporate remote workers. “Don’t leave them on an island, as you may think you’re doing them a favor but they may hate it.”

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