Many of us won’t go back to the office until spring next year at the earliest. You’re stuck working from home but does it mean your career needs to be stuck as well?
Here are some tips to keep advancing professionally even when you’re working remotely.
Do a great job
That’s an obvious one but stay on top of your work and hand in any assignments on time. You don’t want anyone to worry about the quality of your work just because you’re working from home.
Ask for feedback & set up regular check-ins
It’s absolutely ok to reach out for feedback more often now people aren’t in the same office. You might also want to consider asking your manager how often they want you to update them, with how much detail and how (email, phone call or perhaps a Slack message?). Your manager might be struggling too so they aren’t necessarily thinking about you but if you contact them to discuss communications expectations, it will give them enough time to think about what they want.
Also, it would allow you to have the face time that you’d normally have in the office. Tell them what your most recent achievement was as well – e.g. you created a new template that saved anyone time or identified some cost savings. You want your boss to be aware of what you’re achieving and keep track of it, perhaps in a Google doc.
Polish Your Skills
Unless the time you’ve saved on a commute has been consumed by your kids online schooling, you should have the time to polish your skills. Ask your manager what you should focus on improving – there are so many free or low-cost online classes available right now.
If you have colleagues who have skills you admire e.g. creating complex PowerPoint presentations – ask them for advice on how to improve.
Be present & visible in online meetings
Don’t hide behind the screen or emails. Turn on your video camera during work calls. You want to come across as present and visible. Try to come up with one smart comment or question during the online meeting, so you’re seen as bringing value.
Also, adapt your communication style to the person running a meeting. Some people like to chit chat first, others get right to business – figure out what their style is and adapt to it.
Learn video call etiquette – don’t stare at your phone when your camera is on during a video meeting. Put yourself on mute when you’re not talking.
There are a lot of things you can do even when you’re stuck working at home to get exposure. You can offer to mentor new employees, volunteer for a task or a project that’s not part of your job to get experience or hold a virtual “lunch and learn” session to share your knowledge in a specific area.
If you’re aiming for a promotion or a move to another division, find even tiny ways to gain experience in the area you want to move into. That’s why it helps to connect with other people outside of your immediate team as well. Are there any virtual hangouts your company is hosting? If so, take advantage of them.
If you’re in an unlucky situation of having a boss who takes credit for your work and who doesn’t acknowledge your contributions, ask to join a meeting where your work is being presented if possible or ask your colleagues to acknowledge your contribution to the project.
It’s frustrating when our boss doesn’t advocate for you but there are other people in the organisation who can be your champions. Take a rational rather than emotional approach – any request that could make your boss look good is more likely to be considered. Focus on results as performance matters.
Finally, if you feel you just want to carry on as it is, that’s totally fine as well. Careers are long, 2020 has been super challenging and your health and mental wellbeing are more important than career advancement.