When the office opened and you stayed home, everything seemed fine at first. Your coworkers and your manager were comfortable with collaborating with remote work colleagues. After all, every one of them had spent months working from home. And besides, contrary to what many thought at the start of the pandemic, remote workers were much more productive. For instance, a Stanford study that tracked 16,000 workers over nine months discovered that working from home increased productivity by 13-percent. Now that you’re no longer traveling to the land of cubicles and dim lights, you count yourself among those whose productivity has increased.
But red flags have started cropping up. Perhaps your colleagues have in-jokes you’re not in on. Maybe your boss forgets to put you on their agenda. Or the plum assignments are no longer naturally yours. You’re starting to feel like less of a current co-worker than a ghost of Christmas parties past.
Even with the memory of peak remote work still recent, it can be difficult for remote workers to stand out when much of their office has begun the transition back to the workplace. The question becomes, then, how do you stand out when you’re not there in person? Here, according to HR professionals, recruiters, and other workplace experts, is some advice for doing just that.
1. Pump the Brakes
Working from home can entail mental health challenges that aren’t connected to your job performance. Being alone in your home, toiling away without the distractions of coworker banter, office politics, and job friendships, makes you feel isolated and disconnected. And, as Abby Kohut, owner of recruiting firm Staffing Symphony points out, most companies have grown accustomed to remote work. “Most companies have figured out how to have people work from home because practically every company has had people working from home since the pandemic started,” Kohut says. Take some nice long breaths and go outside for a short walk and seriously consider whether the problem’s just in your head.
2. Make an Effort to Be Seen and Heard
So you’ve thought about it and decided that while there’s good news (you aren’t beating yourself up over nothing) the bad news is that the problem’s real and you’re getting overlooked at work. Darcy Eikenberg, career coach and author of the book Red Cape Rescue: Save Your Career Without Leaving Your Job, says that when you’re working remotely, visibility equals viability. You’ve got to make sure that your manager and colleagues notice you. “This means speaking up on video calls and making the occasional, intentional trip into the office to see folks live,” Eikenberg says. “Or, if you live nearby other coworkers, invite them to lunch or coffee regularly so you remain top of mind — and help them stay visible, too.”
3. Advocate For Yourself
If you’re worried about your career stalling while working in a hybrid workplace, you need to start championing your own cause — and working to get people to champion it alongside you. “Advocating for yourself means continuing to be consistent with your exceptional performance,” says Sam Dolbel, CEO of the job and location tracking app
SINC Workforce. “When you do so, you can create a reputation for yourself in the team — that is, being known to be a good performer. Other than that, you can look for colleagues or seniors who can advocate for you. It’s crucial to have people supporting you in the workplace.”
4. Schedule Regular Check-ins
The crux of the problem is that when you’re in the office, people are effortlessly reminded of your existence and when you’re not, you have to make an effort to get noticed. So make friends with your calendar app. “If people have regular check-ins, that’s how they don’t get ignored,” Kohut says. “If your boss doesn’t schedule them, then I would try to ask your boss to schedule one for you.” The same approach extends to coworkers you’re collaborating with. You don’t need to say too much or talk too long in the check-ins. The real point is to get everybody in the office to know they’re going to see your face at a certain time on a certain day each week.
5. Have One-on-One Meetings
Often, group meetings alone aren’t the right venue for getting attention at the workplace. It’s too easy to fade into the background when you’re one voice among many. Kohut encourages remote employees to reach out to managers and colleagues for one-on-one communications. Individual conversations, where you’re actively shaping up ideas in real time, can be better avenues for connecting with your co-workers and showing the value you bring to the team. “You can get ignored or forgotten if you’re just meeting with the group,” Kohut says. “Group conversations are good too, but they shouldn’t be the only thing you are doing.”
6. Make Sure Your Boss Knows What You’re Doing
If you’re worried that your manager is forgetting your contributions to the organization, remind them. Kohut says one of her recruiting clients would send their boss a daily status report to run down how they spent their workday and what they accomplished. The reports, Kohut says, don’t have to be too rich in details. In fact, the content matters less than the existence of the reports themselves. “You can even say to your boss, ‘I don’t care if you read this. I just want you to know that I’m busy,’” Kohut says “‘I’m not sitting home watching TV all day.’”
7. Brag About Your Victories
Remote work and modesty don’t mix. Tony D’Aurizio, People Development Manager at senior living network Amica Senior Lifestyles says that when you work from home, it’s vital to crow about your wins. He advises treating one on one conversations with bosses and colleagues as opportunities for self promotion. “Be sure to keep those sessions and use them to the fullest,” D’Aurizio says. “Track your wins and successes and be ready to talk about them with your manager.” And make sure the brags come in regularly. Today’s accomplishment could get lost in the shuffle tomorrow. “Waiting for your annual review may not be enough and you’ve likely forgotten a lot of the ‘wins’ from earlier in the year,” D’Aurizio says.