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Staying visible when working from home

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 08 Jun 2021

The term “hybrid working” is now firmly entrenched in the business lexicon, but as staff rush to tear up their season tickets to embrace the freedom of time split between working from home and the office, how can you be sure that even if you’re far from sight, you’re not far from mind when it comes to career opportunities?

As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and we inch closer to working in the office, concern is rife that staff who are more visible to managers are more likely to be on the radar when it comes to promotion opportunities, career development and even earning potential.

Analysis of data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that between 2013 and 2020, people who worked from home were on average 38% less likely to have received a bonus compared to those who never worked from home. They were also far less likely to be promoted or to receive training.

The question is, how can you ensure that you’re doing a good job of being noticed by your manager when you can’t be seen? Although they should already have oversight of your tasks and responsibilities, there are several things you can do to ensure you’re on their radar.

Be transparent about your schedule

If you’re working remotely, you should actively keep in touch – even if it may feel like you’re overcommunicating. Routine is not only good for your productivity, but it helps your manager keep track of what you’re up to at work. “Being clear about when you are and aren’t available goes a long way to building credibility and trust,” says Lee Owen, a Director at recruiter Hays Accountancy & Finance.

Schedule regular communication

Whether it’s a weekly phone call, a chat over Zoom or Teams, or an emailed KPI report every fortnight, commit to regular one-to-one communication with your boss to discuss your work, achievements, and career goals. “They’ll be just as time-stretched as everyone else so rather than email every time you complete a task, remind them to schedule in face-to-face one-to-ones regularly so you can talk through progress and report on your successes,” add Susy Roberts, an executive coach and founder of people development consultancy Hunter Roberts.

Seek advice and feedback

Whenever you and your manager are working together, ensure you ask for their feedback. “This provides them with the opportunity to acknowledge your efforts and helps you maximise opportunities for growth,” Owen says.

Take ownership and demonstrate commitment

When you have the capacity, express interest in owning projects or leading your team through a new piece of work. Even if you can’t immediately find opportunities to step up, showing that you’re up for a challenge will make your manager more likely to consider you first when they do arise, Owen says.

Embrace stretch development

If you have capacity, ask to take on something new that might take you out of your comfort zone, or if you have ideas for new ways of doing things, suggest them. “Businesses are increasingly looking to develop and recruit people who thrive on change, so don’t be afraid to suggest new ways of working. Demonstrating a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset is critical,” Roberts says.

Contribute positively in meetings

It can be hard to be noticed on an online Zoom or Teams call. When you’re in meetings make sure you’re positively contributing so people can see your value. “If you find yourself repeatedly passed over or talked over, suggest a round-table format, where everyone gets the chance to talk in turn, or even offer to host the meeting yourself and set the agenda,” Roberts says.

Alternate your communication channels

All too often we default to the most efficient methods such as email, instant messaging systems like Slack, or even texting. “While these tools have their benefits, they limit your ability to pick up on non-verbal communication cues that come from one’s tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language — all of which can help you connect with your team,” warns Amanda Augustine, careers expert for TopCV. Consider picking up the phone or doing a quick video call to ask a question rather than shooting another email or Slack message.

Make a wider contribution

Consider volunteering to become a mentor to someone more junior so you’re making a wider contribution to the business. “Report back to your line manager with suggestions and insight – making sure to respect anything told to you in confidence - to show that you have emotional intelligence,” Roberts says. If you don’t have time to formally mentor someone, look out for people who are struggling and offer emotional support to them.”

Share your success and thanks

Feeling proud of a piece of work? Don’t be afraid to share it with your manager. It’s fine to send a casual instant message rather than an email, and perhaps frame your achievement by saying “thank you for your support with this” to acknowledge the role that they might have played in this success,” Owen says. People who do well have a habit of just getting on with things, particularly women, Roberts adds “so don’t be afraid to be vocal about your achievements. Other people will be, and they’ll be the people who are earmarked for progression.”

For those working from home, whether out of choice or due to a whole host of reasons, which could include health or caring responsibilities, it’s important to know that there’s no need for you to overcompensate, says Jessica French, Development Manager at CABA, the wellbeing charity for chartered accountants.

“Just because you aren’t physically in the office, that doesn’t mean you need to work twice as hard, or twice as long as your colleagues to show your commitment. Doing this you can run the risk of burnout, for fear of being forgotten or side stepped,” French warns. “Use the video platforms to assert your presence, and let your work speak for itself.”