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Remote working comes with many benefits, but keeping things fair when some people are in the office and others are at home can be a challenge. Often, those working from home can feel invisible to their employers, compared to their on-site peers.
Being physically around your boss and colleagues can lead to promotions and opportunities, leaving home-workers feeling overlooked. In 2019, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that being observed by others while at work resulted in positive outcomes for employees “because it is a strong signal of their commitment to their job, their team and their organisation”.
In a separate study carried out in China in 2015, Stanford University researchers found that while home-workers were more productive, they weren’t rewarded with promotions at nearly the same rate as their in-office colleagues.
“As a result of working 100% from home, we've lost spontaneous conversations, the water cooler moments where connections are made and problems can be quickly solved,” says Ayesha Murray, career and life coach. “The same goes for networking, as it was often these informal situations that led to opportunities for advancement.
“We now have to make a more conscious decision to catch up with someone, or wait until official one-on-one or team meetings. That structure can prevent us from expressing ourselves in a more natural way.”
Although it might be more challenging to boost your visibility while working from home, being proactive can help increase your chances of gaining recognition. According to a survey of remote workers and managers by Joblist, only 38% of employees have gone out of their way to be noticed while working from home and women were twice as likely to feel invisible.
However, the research suggests that having a “visibility strategy” pays off, with 93% of managers holding a good impression of employees who made an effort to stand out while working remotely.
So if you’re a home-worker, how can you make yourself more visible to your employer — and ensure you’re fairly considered for opportunities?
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Make communication a part of your routine
Being more visible relies on you pushing yourself to increase interactions with your colleagues and managers. “For ongoing home working, structure and routine is key. Establish regular conversations with your employer, making sure you both understand the purpose of each meeting and what you'd like to get out of each one. Try and mix up the types of meeting, so you have a chance for more informal conversations,” says Murray.
“Try and increase face-to-face time, albeit via a screen, rather than reverting to email or instant messenger. And if possible, arrange regular in-person meet ups. Home workers need clear delineation between work and home, so this serves two purposes.”
When working from home, it can be easy to get stuck into your work without speaking to anyone all day. However, it’s important to make yourself heard and to voice your ideas and opinions. It’s important to focus on building relationships with your colleagues and bosses and show your engagement with your job.
“Ultimately you just need to remind your employer that you're there,” says Murray. “Speak up, be confident, plan what you want to share and when.”
Make time to socialise
Without the chance for regular social catchups when working from home, it can be easy to focus solely on work. However, social interactions are essential for strengthening connections and opening up new opportunities.
If you’re a hybrid worker, make the most of the days when you’re in the office by arranging meetings and social events. If you’re working remotely full-time, heading to the office every so often for lunches, coffees or post-work drinks can pay off. It might take extra effort to travel, but it can be worth it to bond with your co-workers and managers.
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