If you’re working remotely, you probably share my reader Angela’s concern:
“Hey Darcy–I need your help. At the start of the pandemic, my job (and a kazillion others, I know) moved from being based in the HQ to being remote. I actually love it and want to keep working this way–it’s better for my family and I feel like I get a lot more done.
But here’s my worry. Some people are starting to go back to our office. No one’s telling me I have to, but I’m worried I’m going to get lost and forgotten. My work was always kind of behind the scenes anyway, and at the start of this year, I thought I’d be promoted by summer—but there’s no talk about that now.
Much as I love it, I feel hidden working remotely, and I’m worried it’ll make an impact on my career. Plus, I know the old saying: out of sight, out of mind. How can I stay in sight without going out of my mind? Thanks! –Angela”
Angela’s right: out of sight can equal out of mind, especially in a world where everyone’s not only dealing with your company’s issues, but their own personal challenges and fears in a time of immense change.
And when you’re out of sight, your contributions can be taken for granted, and it’s easier to leave you out or (gulp) lay you off.
Truth is, when you’re working remotely, you need to work harder to be seen and heard.
That’s not because your leaders or colleagues are mean or clueless (and I hope for your sake, they’re not.)
It’s primarily because we’re human.
Human beings have a built-in bias in our brains that err on the side of what’s in front of us NOW.
It’s a survival mechanism, dating back to prehistoric days.
Paying attention to what’s NOW used to be all we needed to stay safe.
So when you’re working where we don’t see you all the time, you’re not triggering the “NOW” button in our brains.
It’s easy to go invisible.
That’s why if you’re worried that working remotely might be making you get lost in your company’s eyes, take these actions now.
#1. Hit the Reset Button on Your Most Important Relationships
At the start of the crisis in early 2020, most of us put a lot of effort into keeping in touch with our mates at work.
Now, when we know we’re in a work-from-home marathon, not a sprint, our efforts have lagged a bit.
But our relationships ARE our work, more than our deliverables and deadlines.
If you’re worried that your work is invisible, the only path to fixing that is through people.
Right now, identify the three most important relationships in your life at work who need to know —and value— what you’re doing right now.
Sure, that may be your boss. But it could be:
- Your boss’ boss
- A project leader you work wtih
- A peer in your department
- A peer in another department
- Your primary client or customer
- An administrative assistant, vendor, or other person who connects to many others in the company
Write their names down.
For each name, get clear on how what you’re doing right now connects to something they care about.
Then, reach out and schedule a conversation:
“Hey Alice–we hadn’t chatted in a while, and I’d like to make sure we stay in touch even though we can’t see each other in person as much as we used to. What’s a good time for a chat to catch up so I learn more about what’s happening for you?”
On its own, the act of reaching out gets you seen, putting you back on the radar screen in that person’s brain.
More here, including scripts to use:
#2: Ask for Feedback Everywhere, In the Right Way
If you want to do more than just check in, working remotely gives you the perfect opportunity to dig a little deeper for feedback.
Because when everything’s changing, everything’s changing.
Let’s face it—unless you’re a company of one, there’s absolutely no way you can keep up with all the shifts all across your business.
You’ve probably seen what’s changing in your department or specialty, but what else is happening?
How do you know if the ways you’ve been working are still working?
There are two ways you typically find out:
- By surprise. Your annual review comes back negatively, you’re laid off without explanation, or you continue to get passed over for opportunities or promotion. No bueno. OR
- By being intentional. When you’re working remotely, it’s often up to YOU to reach out and shop for the truth about how you and your work are being seen by others.
Surprises are fun, but not at work.
More steps here in my detailed article, with scripts included:
#3: Be Visible Elsewhere (I’d Start With LinkedIn)
Showing up inside your organization is important, since visibility=viability.
But showing up outside your organization helps you come out of hiding, too.
The easiest place to start is with LinkedIn.
(I know, I know–for as much as I mention LinkedIn lately, Microsoft should pay me a royalty. But it’s hands-down the easiest, most straightforward platform for the everyday professional to boost their brand. (More here on why LinkedIn matters.)
Is your profile up-to-date? Have a good, current headshot?
Now, ramp up your game.
Check your notifications for people celebrating new jobs, work-aversaries, or birthdays.
Take 4 seconds and post a few words recognizing them. (LinkedIn gives you canned words to click and post, like “Congrats.”
(Personally, I think that’s lazy, but it’s better than nothing. But you’ve got your own words at your fingertips–use them.)
It’s also easy to share other people’s good content.
And most importantly, keep adding more connections of real people in your world (how to, and why it matters, here).
Remember, the people you work with are likely also on LinkedIn, and being seen there reminds them you’re not lost.
#4: Prepare for Your Annual Review (Even if It’s Not Time Yet)
If you’re worried now about being invisible, ignored, or even irrelevant, then now’s the time to do something about it.
Do the work as if you were getting ready for your annual review.
Most of us just wait until HR tells us we need to create a self-assessment.
Or we wait until we didn’t get the raise we thought we’d earned.
You might even decide it’s time to do your own review now, and go over it with your boss.
After all, we’ve all lived about five years in just five months . . .
The time’s always now.
Don’t stay hidden if you’re working remotely. Take these actions today, because we need you in our world of work.
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