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How to grow your career prospects while working remotely

Posted by: Nicholas Withers
03/06/2020
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When you’re not in your normal workplace, it can be easy to feel overlooked and out of touch with the rest of the business. You can focus on your normal day-to-day tasks, but you may feel as though there is little hope for career progression if you can’t be as involved as you would be in the office. 

There are steps that you can take, however, to raise your profile and set opportunities for growing your career prospects. Here are four tips you can start doing today:



Ask for feedback

When you’re not working on the same bank of desks or the same room as your manager, you lose a lot of the communication you get in a normal day. You can no longer ask a quick question about a project you’re working on, or make sure that you’re on the right track with an idea, or get some of the many small pieces of feedback we can pick up through general conversation about work. 

What you are left with is formal feedback sessions, such as performance reviews (if your company even does those at all). And for many people these sessions feel uncomfortable and even insincere. It’s easier to give or receive constructive negative feedback from a manager you get on with in small, regular doses while you’re working - it’s different when that feedback is formalised by a questionnaire set by the HR department, and when you know that the responses could make it back to some of the company higher-ups. 

So try to bring back some of that small, productive feedback by simply asking for it. Send an idea or a piece of work to your manager and ask for their thoughts. If you’re unsure about your performance, ask for a quick call to chat about any concerns. You could even request a regular call to go through your workload. Be clear about what you would like to know and be honest with your manager.  



Force collaboration


Great ideas in businesses often don’t come from the directors offices or board meetings (in fact, those ideas are usually the worst). The best ideas often come up in the kitchen, when two people on different teams are chatting about their successes or their struggles while making a coffee round. 

When working remotely, however, you lose those impromptu meetings and casual chats that turn into revelations. It’s too easy to only focus on your own tasks and be blind to what’s going on in the rest of the company. 

So try to engage as much as you can with people in other areas of the business. If there’s someone you haven’t heard from in a while, drop them an email and ask what they’re working on or see if there’s anything you could do to help them out. Get involved in any social gatherings - or set up your own (you can even do virtual sessions through skype or zoom). Invite people from other departments to your meetings - they might be able to offer a different perspective. 

When you can’t naturally bump in to people, force the collaboration by taking action.

 

Demonstrate your value

When you’re not in the office you’re invisible. No-one can see you celebrate a win, or hear you complain when something goes wrong. And you may even find yourself being unfairly overlooked for projects or responsibilities, simply because you’re not there when the plans are being made. 

So it’s important to make noise. Take steps to proactively show your value to others in the workplace. When you have a win, send a message celebrating that win to anyone who needs to see. When you work with another department, send thank you messages to those people for their hard work and support. And when you’re in a conference call, make sure you come prepared with questions or ideas that you can contribute. 

There’s nothing wrong with making yourself known, particularly if you’re showing people the value that you already add to the workplace, and the value you can add in the future.



Get involved in new areas

While you’re forcing collaboration and showing off your value, it’s a good time to take some chances and get involved with areas you previously haven’t been part of. 

Pitch ideas in team meetings that are different to the “normal way” and find ways of making them work. 

When you’re not in the office there are fewer distractions and less pressure to be seen as focusing on a single task at all times. Remember that the biggest benefits can come from taking the time to learn things, or stay updated with the latest industry developments. When you work remotely you can free some time specifically for that, or for watching instructional videos or reading guides on how to do something you’ve previously had little experience with. 

This is the time to be taking chances and leading new ideas. That also makes it the perfect time for you to get involved in new areas of working and developing some new skills that can take you further along your career path.

 

 
Tags: Engineering
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