How Managers Can Prevent Remote Work From Halting Their Careers

In all honesty, this working from home thing has been pretty nice. I no longer have to get up as early as I used to and the whole commute thing has gone away. Sure, I miss the level of interaction with my coworkers that I used to enjoy in the office, but I still get to see them via Zoom and Teams. However, there is one small problem with our otherwise perfect set up. Our careers might currently be on hold. Is there any way to keep them moving forward while we are all working remotely?

Remote Career Management

The big question is if remote work is hindering your career. As more and more managers hunker down in the telecommuting experiment that doesn’t seem to end they are getting a taste of what working-from-home pros have known for years: No matter how good your manager skills are, it can be hard to climb the ladder when no one can see you.

We all know that the best projects and promotions often go to in-office workers. Those logging on from home often say they feel invisible at times or find that opportunities for advancement are closed off to them. Some managers face suspicion about what they’re actually doing all day. Without the ability to spot who’s sitting next to whom in a glass-walled conference room or talk with a manager from another department at the coffee machine, it can be hard to read the power lines of the workplace and make connections.

What a manager needs to realize is that in some ways, the pandemic has been a great equalizer. Now, at many companies, everyone is currently working remotely. But even with a level playing field it can be hard to prove over Zoom that you’re the one who is ready for a promotion. If you can remember when you were back at the office, people could see you plugging away each workday. If you were showing up and sitting in your seat every day and maybe getting in a little earlier than they did and staying a little later than they did, you were considered to be a top-notch worker.

Managing A Career Remotely

Now that you are missing that built-in cue for your manager, the onus shifts to you to prove your value and make sure you’re in the flow. One way to go about doing this is to use your manager training to provide your management with frequent updates on your progress, asking for work and making sure you’re clear on the company’s priorities and expectations. You can view this as being a much more specific and intentional way of doing your job.

The good news is that research shows that remote workers adapt to the pressures and disadvantages of being far from headquarters. However, their coping mechanisms come with consequences. Employees who aren’t co-located with their bosses tend to obsessively monitor their email and volunteer to take early-morning and late-night meetings – anything to prove they’re committed and working hard. The result of this is burnout. Many either give up trying to advance or end up quitting their jobs.

So what can managers do if they want to score a promotion from home? First off check in: keep your boss updated on your accomplishments and raise your hand for projects. Take the time to get aligned: Make sure you know what your manager’s expectations are and where the company’s priorities lie. Think about work you can do that would make your boss’s life easier. Make sure that you stay in the flow: Participate in group chats on technology like Teams and schedule random catch-up calls with colleagues, including those not on your immediate team. This is almost like a remote form of team building. If travel is an option, schedule office visits. Always speak up: Make sure you have the phone number or link for a meeting beforehand. If you are left out of a meeting, say something. Finally, express your goals: Make clear you’re aiming for the next step in your career. If you’re open to transitioning back to the office to make that happen, perhaps as part of a hybrid setup where you go in once a week, spell it out for your manager.

What All Of This Means For You

The arrival of the Covid-19 virus and its associated pandemic has caused just about everything to change. The result for a lot of managers is that we now find ourselves working from home. It turns out that there are a lot of benefits to this new working arrangement. However, likewise there are a number of downsides to it also. The most important of these downsides is that our career may have been placed on hold by working remotely.

The biggest problem with working remotely is that nobody can see you. All too often the best opportunities tend to go to in-office workers. The arrival of the pandemic has made everyone a remote worker. However, we need to find ways to show people that we are the top-notch worker that should be promoted. In our new role as a at-home worker, we need to make sure to provide our management with frequent updates on our progress. We may adapt to our new working situation, but the end result may lead to job burn-out. What we need to do is to check in, get aligned, stay in the flow and always speak up.

Working from home changes everything. What use to work for us as we attempted to get our next promotion may no longer work. What we need to realize is that the world has changed and so we have to change with it if we want our careers to keep moving forward. In order to make progress, we need to stay in touch with our management and take special care to keep them plugged into what we are doing. If can do this successfully, then when we finally return to the office, we just might have a better job!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How can a manager detect if working from how has caused their career to come to a halt?

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