Are you WFH while the rest of your team is IRL? Experts weigh in on how to keep your managers and colleagues confident that you’re showing up, even if you’re dialing in.
At this stage of the pandemic, the workplace is divided: Some employees are trading their sweatpants and Zoom meetings for business attire and boardrooms; others are opting to stay remote. A Prudential survey found that 87% of workers polled wanted the ability to keep working remotely as the pandemic rages on. But that same survey also found that 43% of remote workers would be anxious about their job security if they stayed home while others returned to the office. If that describes you, don’t worry — here are a few ways to keep your seat at the table, even if you’re not in the room.
Here are five ways to stay visible if you’re working from home while your colleagues are in the office.
1. Be seen — not just heard.
It may be tempting to keep your camera off during Zoom meetings for any number of reasons, but if you’re hoping to make your presence known, experts say to show your face. Consultant Dorie Clark, who has spent a decade researching personal branding at work, even recommends going the extra mile by ensuring your face is well-lit and that you have a professional backdrop.
“If [other] colleagues are putting in more face time at the office, the people around them have far more data to use (in the form of interpersonal interactions) in forming judgments about them,” Clark writes for the Harvard Business Review. “If you’re working from home full-time, on the other hand, this is the only way you’re connecting with colleagues, so you need to be hyper-vigilant about how you’re presenting yourself.”
Workplace coach Melody Wilding suggests taking video presence a step further: “You can leverage video in another way by making short recordings of projects your team is working on and sharing them with others,” Wildling writes for Forbes. “One of my clients used this strategy with great success. He was a very introverted engineering lead who disliked presenting to big groups. So he filmed short videos of projects his team was working on and circulated them among senior leadership. It went a long way in raising the visibility of his team and his credibility as a leader.”
2. Hit your deadlines.
Studies show working remotely is as productive as being in the office. Some workers find it to be even more so. But for managers and coworkers with years of experience having everyone together in one office, being separated from their teams and unable to check in — whether with a meeting or a quick glance on a stroll past a desk — can be nerve-wracking. Experts say if you’ve transitioned from the office to a remote work or flex work arrangement, it’s more important than ever to deliver on your commitments and meet your deadlines — or to communicate if that won’t be the case. Proving productivity boosts confidence that remote work works.
3. Be proactive.
If you can’t connect with your colleagues face to face, put in the effort to connect digitally. Wilding recommends reaching out on a regular basis, even setting reminders for yourself to check in with your teammates. “Every week, set a goal to connect with a few colleagues,” she says. “These should be ‘soft touches,’ i.e. asking how they are doing, how you can support them, or sending them a helpful resource.”
4. Be reachable and responsive.
As asynchronous work and flexible work hours become ever less rare, making an effort to overlap with your team is all the more a valuable way to underscore your commitment and show you’re reliable. Experts recommend taking note of your colleagues’ and managers’ work schedules and making an effort to be online and easy to reach during overlapping hours. Strategist Avery Blank notes, “Being online when your colleagues are online could help you to be seen as productive, innovative and exciting to work with.” This is especially important for managers: It keeps the energy between teams flowing.
5. Be vocal, be positive.
Wilding recommends praising others’ outstanding performances and drawing attention to your own. It’s good for morale, it shows you’re a team player, and it makes your value to the company clear. Plus, she says, it shows other internal stakeholders what your team is getting done.
And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn, either: “It doesn’t make you look like a braggart,” she says. “Keep the emphasis on the effort you put in and connect it to how this success impacts others or makes their jobs easier.”