How to advance your career as a remote worker

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As more companies push for the physical return of employees to the office, many of us are still working remotely, at least part-time. Working independently can make it difficult to fit into a company and move up the ranks. It’s harder to stay top of mind, and this can lead to neighborhood bias when it comes to career advancement and securing that promotion. This means that you need to be proactive to ensure that your professional development is not stalled by the work-from-home or hybrid arrangement. Here are five strategies for staying visible.

1. Never give up the office completely

Your company may not require that you should come to the office, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come in at all. Find reasons for your superiors and colleagues to see your face. Schedule a regular monthly meeting in person with your boss or a lunch date with colleagues. You can also pick a day once or twice a month to just go to the office and work there instead of in your home office. This prevents people from forgetting you and keeps you informed of everything that happens with your department and company that is not communicated via a formal announcement. It keeps you up to date with office news.

After Covid-19, some companies have given up their physical offices altogether. If you don’t have an office, be proactive and arrange a meeting with colleagues who live nearby. The meeting could be over a meal, or perhaps a joint activity, such as a morning volunteering with a local organization.

Related: Why proximity bias is preventing leaders from excelling in the era of hybrid and remote working

2. Update your superiors

It is critical that you have regular remote status meetings with your superiors. If this is not something that your boss arranges with you as an external employee, you should take the initiative to set this up yourself. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, but you should have virtual facetime to share your progress on your projects, inquire about any plum assignments or projects you might want to advocate for, and remind your boss of your achievements. In addition, be sure to document your performance for that year-end evaluation. Don’t assume that your boss will remember all your raises and promotions successes.

Related: Remote working continues: are you ready for the new way of life?

3. Take advantage of opportunities in virtual meetings

When you’re remote, you no longer have those casual “water cooler” conversations. Be sure to sign up for virtual team meetings early so that while people log in, you can chat a bit with your coworkers about non-work related topics. If possible, ask if someone can stay at the end of the meeting to chat with you. Ask for advice or input on a project you are currently working on. This can help you with innovative ideas and solutions and has the added benefit of making others feel needed and involved by asking for their advice.

4. Create your own connectivity options

If you are local but still a remote employee, ask one of your colleagues to have lunch or breakfast in person. Consider holding a group event at your home to keep in touch with your coworkers. If you are geographically distant from the physical office in another part of the country, schedule a virtual one-on-one with someone from your department or another department once a week to further grow your intracompany network. In addition, if you are traveling and close to a physical office of your company, use it as an opportunity to schedule a face-to-face meeting.

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5. Personal Professional Development Advocate

Keeping abreast of innovations in your industry is critical to your professional development. While there are still opportunities for online webinars and conferences, negotiate one or two in-person conferences to attend each year to stay informed and connected. Negotiating one or two industry-related organizations to join is also a great idea. Even if you work from home, it’s helpful to hold a monthly in-person event where you see industry colleagues. These types of professional development meetings are likely where your next opportunity will come from a new customer, supplier, speaking performance, or even a new job.

With the changing professional climate after the pandemic, you will need to be more creative and deliberate about advancing your own career. Make sure you use these strategies to stay top of mind and ask for opportunities to grow and connect, rather than waiting for those opportunities to come to you.