How to Stay Visible When Working From Home
It may be tempting 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. However, if you sink into the background you WILL come to regret it.
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. Has it been effective? What would it do for you to be more visible? Increase your influence? Increase your chances of promotion? Give you more recognition? Maybe it’s time to think about what you can and should do.
Develop 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. It’s important that you prepare for any meeting, so don’t let this drop because you’re at home. Know what the meeting is for, what value you can bring, and be prepared to contribute. Without being clear it can be hard to interject on a video call (especially if they’re not well-chaired).
Take a moment to reset between calls (or switching from washing the dishes), get your head in the game 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.
Dress properly for it. Yes we’re a bit more relaxed at home, but make an effort…not least because it helps you get your head in the game too. If you’re not past your embarrassment of appearing on video yet now is the time to get over it, it’s here to stay. We are all in the same boat. Remember most people are looking at their own eye bags rather than noticing yours!
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 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.
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. This has a snowball effect, once you get a reputation for being keen and heavily involved you will be asked again.
Maintain and make new relationships
It doesn’t always have to be about work. 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.
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 the current situation, 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 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 encourage 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!
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, and under the current circumstances of 2020, it might not be allowed. 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 getting round the rules if the person you need to speak with isn’t too far away — it works for up to 3 people.
We might not be able to get together for a social gathering for 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
In these uncertain times, remote working has become the norm for many of us, and even when the worst is over it’s likely to continue as a trend. It’s time you got used to it and embraced it. 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?