Working from home has loads of benefits. No commute, more flexibility, you can set your working life up to suit you. You may even be tempted to use the fact that you’re working from home as the perfect get-out, to hide, and perhaps to release any pressure or expectation that would normally be present when working in the office.
The big risk is that you become less visible at best and INVISIBLE at worst. I’m not saying to run back to the office, because I think working from home is important. But you do need to get smarter and more creative about how you and your work get seen!
The power of visibility can never be underestimated.
— Margaret Cho
I want you to think about what you have been doing to remain visible in your organisation to date. Has it been effective? What would it do for you to be more visible?
Being visible increases your influence. Increases your chances of promotion. Gets you more recognition. And means you get to do more of the work you want and less of the work you don’t want.
That’s why I’m here to share some simple strategies to keep you at the front of people’s minds!
Develop good meeting habits
It’s really important to stay connected through regular meetings – love them or loathe them. You should, if working effectively, be having an increased number of meetings via video call from home.
Video meeting etiquette is crucial for an effective video meeting, and for you to make a good impression. Switch on your camera and dress properly for it. Yes, we’re a bit more relaxed at home, but make an effort…not least because it helps you feel more professional too. It actually really helps to have a signature colour that you’re known for, or wear something bright to stand out on bigger meetings. And for goodness sake have a tidy background or blur it!
I can’t emphasise this enough…shitty meetings happen because people aren’t prepared. Don’t be that person, prepare for all meetings. They are how people build up an image of you in their head. So don’t let this drop because you’re at home.
Know what the meeting is for, what value you can bring, and join ready to contribute. If you’re not clear on what you want to say, it can be hard to interject on a video call (especially if they’re not well-chaired). Remember to use the hands up and chat functions if you’re struggling to get a word in!
Also, always take a moment to reset between calls (or switching from washing the dishes). You need to get your head in the game so you’re clear with what you want to achieve and how you need to show up. Make sure you attend promptly, especially if it’s a one-on-one meeting, 2 minutes can feel like a long time in the virtual world.
It’s also important to speak up…
Be Seen, Be Heard
Instead of taking the easy option and emailing, take every (sensible) opportunity to speak or have a video call with your manager, seniors, or people you want to have more visibility or influence with. A quick video (or regular) call gives an opportunity to build rapport in a way that an e-mail doesn’t.
Also, when you’re attending a meeting, do so with the intention to speak up. Be prepared. Identify what value you can add and share it. Take the opportunity to deliver an informative update – don’t say everything’s OK, or go too high-level. Outline the project and the challenges that you’ve faced, how you’ve overcome them, and the result. Too often we just give the result and make it all sound too easy. If you minimise your airtime you also minimise your role and impact.
People cannot read minds, they only know what you tell them, so make sure you communicate your effort and your impact!
Being seen and heard regularly will boost your profile and keep you visible.
Step out of your home comfort zone
Just because you are working from home, it doesn’t mean that there are no longer the same opportunities to get involved with projects and initiatives. If there’s a chance you can get your face on video call, in front of other stakeholders or teams in your company take that chance. Step up and offer to deliver the presentation. You can even be a keynote speaker at a global conference from home these days! The only limits are those you put on yourself.
This has a snowball effect, once you get a reputation for being keen and heavily involved you will be asked again.
Make and maintain new relationships
It doesn’t always have to be about work, in fact the best ones go beyond the transactional day-to-day. Remember when you used to check in with your colleague who was sitting beside you about the new puppy they were getting at the weekend? You can and should still do that. A quick message or chat about non-work related matters can really help to open up genuine relationships with your workmates. You can build lasting friendships by being willing to adopt the same attitude to communicating via technology as you would in person. Virtual coffees with a no-work talk rule can make a refreshing break. As can lifting the phone for a surprise call. And here’s something that will have a huge impact…a real card or note in the post!!
Expectations still exist at your kitchen table
Just because you are not in the office it doesn’t mean that expectations and deadlines go out the window. Stick to (and where possible exceed) what is required of you and be clear about the expectations you’ve set for others.
We all need to be understanding of flexible working arrangements, so try and organise important meetings for when distractions and interruptions are unlikely. We’ve all had deliveries when on calls, but perhaps it’s best not to get a name for yourself as the ‘wine delivery woman’! Try, where possible, to create a clear separation between home and working time.
Share your wins and your failures
It’s easy to become isolated when working from home. Part of the rapport we have with our colleagues comes from empathy, and what can be better than sharing the positives and negatives with your team on what you are working on. This will encourage others to do the same and create an open dialogue which is probably more important when not face to face.
You can also use team meetings as an opportunity to give other’s positive feedback and shine a light on the impact they’ve had. It’s a great way to role model team-building behaviour and it then encourages others to do the same. Most people need feedback more regularly as we miss the adhoc opportunities.
You can also highlight important updates and achievements with a follow-up email. Particularly if you’ve received some good feedback, it’s a must to forward it on to your manager!
Always follow up
If you miss a meeting for any reason, make sure you follow up and get an update on what you missed. Similarly, it’s important to keep checking in regarding the actions that come from meetings that you do take part in. Remember that you are technically ‘out of sight’ at home so don’t become ‘out of mind’ by letting tasks fall by the wayside. Some tasks might not be a priority but if you aren’t going to complete them make sure everyone is aware of why. You really don’t want to be seen as the one person in the office who is flaky and using working from home as an excuse to work less.
Leave the house…sort of
Sounds obvious, but, getting into the office for a face-to-face meeting is always a good thing. Walking meetings can be incredibly productive and can be a way of being productive and building great relationships – it works for up to 3 people and is amazing what you can achieve.
With more people working in different locations you might not be able to get together for a social gathering or a work night out, but what’s stopping you from organising a virtual pub quiz or prosecco tasting evening (ok the latter is what I love to do, you do what you want).
Get used to it
The working world has changed for good, and it’s great to take the positives. Working from home and hybrid working are a reality for many that couldn’t have imagined it a few years ago. Businesses need to get better at actively engaging with people working from home. But like I always say, don’t leave your career to someone else. No one will ever care more about it than you, which is why you have to do everything in your power to be seen. Just because you aren’t physically in the room with your colleagues and managers, doesn’t mean you can’t have the same level of visibility.
Put visibility on your to do list. Ask yourself daily (or at least weekly), what can I do to make sure I’m visible today?
If you want to know why you aren’t getting promoted, take this Quiz, it can offer you some clarity and strategies to make it happen!
And you really should check out my Career Audit, where I can help you get a clear plan for career success!