Workplace FOMO and How to Overcome it

workplace fomo

It’s a Saturday night and you’re sprawled on your bed watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S for the 12th time. You go to the kitchen to make a sandwich from the leftover ingredients. While you’re eating it, you open up Instagram.

And it starts!

You watch stories of your friends enjoying a party in some club and suddenly feel that whatever you’re doing is inadequate. You start questioning and doubting yourself Maybe I should have accepted their invitation. I could have gotten the chance to wear that new outfit I bought. Would I be missing out on some important gossip?

This FOMO also creeps into our professional lives and in more painful ways. I recently experienced the same. I was supposed to go on a weekend trip to have some fun and loosen up a little. 

Just the night before, I received an email regarding a new opportunity for my freelancing career. I almost cancelled that trip because I thought I would be losing a big opportunity.

The panic that I faced  is not that rare. According to a Linkedin survey, a whopping 65% of Americans say they fear that they will miss their opportunity to succeed if they don’t keep their options open. 

So, let’s understand what workplace FOMO is and how we can overcome it.


How do you know if you’re suffering from workplace FOMO?

Before I set about writing this article, I didn’t even know I was experiencing this fear to such a great extent in my professional life.

Ask yourself these questions to find out if you too suffer from FOMO:

  • Do you often feel left out when you are excluded from meetings, committees or new projects at work?
  • Do you say ‘yes’ to every new opportunity at work, thinking that you’d be missing out on your next big break?
  • When you’re with your family or on a leave, do you constantly find yourself checking your work-related apps to see if something new popped up in your absence?
  • If you missed out on a major meeting or a conference due to sickness, do you get anxious that you would be missing out on making valuable comments and connections?

If you answered most of these questions in the affirmative, congratulations, you’re a new member of our FOMO club!

But worry not. We have five ways in which you can get rid of this feeling for good.


Be active

If you feel you’re being left out, the best way to combat this problem is by spending time with your co-workers. Do simple things like eating lunch with them instead of at your desk, make the extra effort to talk to people about their projects and assignments, volunteer to help them out when they’re stuck somewhere.

For example, if you want to be in the event management committee at work, volunteer to work on something specific. Instead of saying ‘Please let me know if I can be of help’, say something like, ‘Can I work on the project scope for the next event?

If you have a specific skill, you can contribute the same. For example, if you’re good at designing or coming up with new ideas, demonstrate the same in your current project. When your coworkers find out about this, they are sure to come to you for that certain skill when they are working on future projects.  

Make yourself approachable, but also ensure you don’t say ‘yes’ to every request or opportunity. You don’t want to be overburdened or burned out.

Also, make sure that your own tasks in your task management software are in progress or finished.

Nobody would want to put on added responsibility on a person who has a track record of not finishing their work on time.


– Use your applications wisely

Technology has advanced tremendously in recent years and with it came a plethora of applications. 

One for managing your documents, another for your project analysis and so on.

With multiple applications comes the major productivity killer – those beeping tones on your phone.

According to a study by the University of California, Irvine, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand after you are interrupted.

But there’s another disadvantage, and it comes in the form of workplace FOMO. 

When you’re supposed to be spending time with your family, your mind keeps drifting to that one thought, ‘What if there’s an important notification for me?

This could even be the case when you’re working on an important task at the office and you start wondering about the information that you might be missing on.

The solution is simple – make use of an application that combines all of your requirements. For example, make use of project management software that has everything from CRM to task management.

You could also communicate to your teammates that you’d be logging off from that application at a certain time every day. If there’s anything urgent, they can call you up.

Doing this ensures you avoid constant workplace FOMO but also deal with a lesser number of notifications.


– Be realistic

As much as we want, we have to miss out on a few things. Think about it. Even in college, you were restricted to being a part of just one or two committees. It was for the best, wasn’t it?

It gave you enough time to work on yourself, your hobbies and spend time destressing and relaxing.

On the other hand, if you think you have so much time but still aren’t being included in different things, ask yourself:

  • Is it because the boss doesn’t like me or that the new project requires people with more experience?
  • Am I not being approached for the new committee because I don’t socialize enough?
  • Is it really that bad if I was not included in the new team when I already have too many responsibilities currently?

Instead of assuming, get to the root of things. Make necessary changes if you have to, be it more socializing, volunteering or just being more responsible and completing work on time.

If you still feel that there’s something wrong, hop on to the next point.


– Ask your supervisor

Even after doing everything, if you still think you are not being considered for a promotion or a project, you could ask your supervisor for more information.

Your boss would be the right person to let you know if you are lacking in some skill or other specific reasons why you weren’t considered. It could also be that they had a different growth path in mind for you. Or just that they wanted you to work on an upcoming project.

If not, this would give a cue to your boss that they should include you on new projects or consider you for the next promotion. 


– Focus on solutions

If you can’t make it to a conference, for example on lean content marketing, instead of worrying about all the connections and information you’ll lose out on, shift your mindset. Focus on solutions, instead.

Find out if they have another one scheduled in the future or if they’d be providing any resources. Send an email to the organizer to find out the likely audience. Chances are that you’re exaggerating the prestige of the audience and unnecessarily worrying about the same. If not, you could reach out to the key influencers to see if you could arrange a meeting when they’re in town.

The same goes with an important meeting you can’t attend due to a tight schedule. Ask a coworker to brief  you about the same later on or ask for the minutes of the meeting.

After going through the minutes, you could even consider emailing your ideas to the meeting head. This shows your dedication and might open up new avenues for you in the future.

Whatever be the cause of your FOMO, approach it with simple questions like ‘What can I do about it? ’ or ‘Am I just exaggerating things? Would my career really slide down if I miss out on one client or conference?


Summing up

Ultimately, workplace FOMO isn’t going to help you get in on the most amazing projects or get your dream salary or stay fulfilled. It’s just going to add more worry and stress to your life.

So, bid workplace FOMO a goodbye by making use of these five tips.


This is a guest post by Shyamal Parikh.

Shyamal is the Founder of SmartTask, an online work management tool that’s helping teams be more productive by having clarity on who’s doing what by when. Has a penchant for researching and sharing strategies that could benefit a team’s productivity.

Other popular articles