By Trisha Plovie, Senior Vice President, Global Future of Work, Robert Half
When COVID-19 barreled into workplaces in early 2020, I was genuinely impressed by how smoothly our employees and contractors at Robert Half could pivot to 100% remote work almost overnight.
At first, I was a little skeptical about whether fully remote work was sustainable for people and businesses in the long term. But it soon became clear that many teams could be as productive — and even more productive — from home, and that remote was the future for many companies and workers.
One aspect did concern me: When some employees are on-site while others are not, how can remote workers remain visible and grow in their careers when they are, effectively, “out of sight, out of mind?”
Visibility at work is extremely important for career success. It’s how you are included, recognized and valued by networks within your organization. It’s how you receive proper credit for your work, get considered for advancement and build influence in professional circles.
People working away from the physical workplace can face isolation from the daily work culture, lack of face time with management, fewer informal networking opportunities, time zone differences and challenges with home-based office technologies.
How do I know? I am one of them, having been fully remote for more than two years and going strong. Along the way, I have developed some tips and tricks that any remote worker can use to remain visible and vibrant, building a career while being physically separated from the workplace.
1. Establish a disciplined mindset
You can go a long way toward bridging the gap between your home office and the physical workplace by making your participation appear seamless. This means trying to be on time, or early, for every meeting, reducing potential distractions and sticking to a predictable and transparent work schedule that your colleagues recognize.
Also, you may be asked to go above and beyond what your on-site colleagues might be expected to do during a standard workday. You may work harder and longer, so aim for efficiency in your productivity.
2. Practice “high touch” communication
Make a habit of updating your manager frequently on your progress toward clearly stated goals. If you’re a people manager, try to create a cadence of regular check-ins and set expectations for the frequency, mode and ideal timing of communication.
Try not to miss great opportunities to connect and collaborate with coworkers, like volunteering for cross-team projects and stretch assignments and being active on your organization’s internal social networks to build camaraderie and stay top of mind.
3. Optimize your visibility and professional image
Facial expressions and body language can communicate volumes about you, so consider staying on camera, looking put-together, whenever possible. Dress (your top half) for success, with an awareness of the image you project in the camera’s eye. Let your wardrobe choices be guided by how your company’s leaders and clients are attired in meetings. I always have a suit jacket handy to put on when the occasion calls.
What’s behind you matters too. Does your background reflect a space where work gets done? I like to use a standardized virtual background while on camera to avoid distracting others with my environment. And although we know pets make wonderful office companions, consider keeping them out of range when you need to project a professional image.
Want more tips on how to succeed at remote work? Check out this post to learn about the top do’s and don’ts of working remotely.
4. Be a problem solver
Check you have all the tools you need to succeed from your remote office. You may want to invest in some new equipment, such as a high-quality camera and lighting, headset or extra monitors. Remember that you may need to troubleshoot and test your technology, or seek tech support if needed.
5. Build your knowledge along with your networks
Independently pursuing courses and programs for professional development will keep your skills sharp, and joining the local chapter of professional clubs and associations can keep your face-to-face networks hot. (I am an active member of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance and Michigan Women’s Tax Association, attending meetings, giving presentations and serving on committees.)
You might also enjoy getting involved and giving back to your community.
6. Take care of yourself
You can fight the risk of isolation and burnout with positive practices. I have an app that reminds me to get up and move and serves up small workouts to do during breaks. Think also about physical comfort when choosing an office chair, computer mouse, adjustable-height desk and other ergonomic equipment.
You can avoid eyestrain by resting your eyes regularly. Ophthalmologists recommend the 20-20-20 rule, where for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Finally, try not to let household distractions overwhelm you. Aim for consistency and calmness in your environment and take opportunities to step away to meet with friends and colleagues to feed the need for human connection. If isolation is affecting you, consider using a coworking space as needed.
This is my advice for remote workers seeking to achieve professional parity with on-site coworkers, but the employer holds as much — if not more — responsibility for leveling the playing field. So, if your workplace culture does not support your remote career growth, consider a job change. Robert Half’s experience of placing people into rewarding remote careers can help you match with an employer that will allow you to shine, even from your home office.
Follow Trisha Plovie on LinkedIn.
Looking for remote work?
See Robert Half’s current job listings to find remote jobs that may interest you. You can also upload your resume on our website to be considered for employment opportunities that align with your skills and experience.