Being in the right place at the right time can result in some serendipitous career moments. If you bump into your boss at the coffee machine, it could prompt them to put you on an important new project. Or, if your manager notices you’re always the first one in the office, it could play out well when they’re working on promotion recommendations.
When you’re working from home, however, these passive moments are gone. To make sure your work is noticed, you need to be proactive.
“Today, you need to think about the need to be visible,” says Kevin Eikenberry, a cofounder of Remote Leadership Institute, which is a company of virtual workplace consultants, and a coauthor of The Long-Distance Teammate: Stay Engaged and Connected While Working. “In the past, you were literally visible. Now you need to be much more intentional, but you want to do it in an ethical way.”
Change Your Mindset
If you think about your situation as “working from home,” you’re focusing on being insular and individual, says Eikenberry.
“What you really are is a remote teammate,” he says. “Ethical visibility is still being part of something bigger than ourselves. What we’re after is making sure your work is recognized in context of it being part of the team’s work and results. You want to share or contribute in a way that’s consistent with team culture.”
For example, we all know that person who is always speaking up during Zoom meetings, only talking about themselves.
“Don’t be that person,” says Eikenberry. “You may think you need to call attention to yourself and your accomplishments to be visible. But when you take up too much airtime in meetings, others will judge your behavior and not your intent. Make sure your behavior is in alignment with being part of the team.”
Have a Visibility Strategy
You don’t want to take the opposite approach, though. It can be easy for employees to slip into a pattern of limited communication and slowly fade into the background of a company while working remotely, says Kevin Harrington, CEO of Joblist, a job-matching platform.
“A visibility strategy is a way for employees to stay prominent within their teams and ensure that their efforts and contributions receive the proper recognition at work,” he says.
Joblist surveyed remote workers and managers and found that while only 36% of workers have a visibility strategy, the benefits of having one are notable.
“Employees who feel visible in their remote workplace are more likely to be satisfied with their productivity, levels of engagement, and job security,” says Harrington. “Long-term, an effective visibility strategy can also be critical to career advancement, as companies are more likely to give raises and promotions to employees who make an effort to remain visible while working from home.”
Eikenberry recommends that employees make sure they’re delivering what their boss needs most from them now. “Ask, ‘How can I best serve the team right now?'” he says. “It’s managing up. Know the goals of the leaders, and make sure you’re giving them the help they need. It doesn’t have to be brown-nosey. It’s understanding where priorities are and making sure you’re making an incremental effort in areas of priority and not just your own.”
According to the Joblist survey, the most effective ways for employees to remain visible are offering new ideas, helping colleagues with work, and volunteering for a task or opportunity. Forty-one percent of workers made sure their projects kept moving, 37.4% helped their colleagues by taking on additional work, and 36.5% made an effort to focus on small details.
“These actions are particularly effective because they send a strong message through an employee’s actions that they are engaged, motivated, and care about the success of their colleagues and the company as a whole,” says Harrington.
Being visible is really about being supportive of others, says Eikenberry. “Generally speaking, when you’re doing the right thing to support your team, you will be noticed and recognized,” he says.