How to Move Up the Career Ladder in Remote Work
Remote work comes with many advantages. Working from home is more convenient, you don’t have a dreaded commute to the office, and, usually, remote workers are more productive and have fewer distractions.
But remote work comes with challenges, too. One of the biggest challenges of being remote is that it may be harder to get a promotion. Many studies have indicated what’s called “proximity bias” for managers. It means that managers feel that in-office employees are working harder and should get more raises and promotions than their remote co-workers.
It doesn’t matter that this may not be true. Often, remote employees work just as hard as someone in the office. But when you’re working from home, you can become out of sight and out of mind.
That doesn’t mean you still can’t climb the corporate ladder while working remotely. The critical thing to remember is that remote workers need to take the initiative more often than in-office peers and remind their bosses of how hard they’re really working. The more remote employees put themselves front and center, the more they’ll be seen as valuable parts of the team.
Empire Resume will explain how to move up the career ladder in remote work, including the specific ways work from home employees can do it. We’ve written an article on How to Get Promoted a few years back, but that was based on in-office work.
Your boss will see you throughout the day in a typical office setting. They’ll see you working hard, and you’ll communicate with them often, even if just to say good morning or talk about the weather. Remote workers are at a disadvantage here, as that water-cooler kind of talk doesn’t happen as frequently.
That’s why remote employees need to overcommunicate with bosses and co-workers. You don’t want to be a pest, but make it a point to check in with people often throughout the day, just as you would when in the office.
Ask your boss if you can have a weekly check-in where you talk about what you’re working on, things you’re struggling with, and recent wins you’ve had. Also, ensure you stay in close contact by saying good morning, communicating when you’re going on lunch break and things of that nature. Some companies use a messaging system like Slack, so this is where you can drop those messages.
No matter how you do it, overcommunicating with your boss keeps you in their minds and helps fight proximity bias. They’ll know you’re working hard and that you care about the job, and you’re not just sitting at home relaxing.
Be as Helpful as Possible
Your boss and co-workers may have a full plate and several things they need help with. You also may have a full plate, but if you really want to impress your boss, develop a service mindset in your relationship with them. This means being of service and helping them with pain points throughout their day.
This could involve taking on tasks or assignments your boss doesn’t have time for or needs to be made more efficient. This service mindset is similar to how companies help clients by identifying what overwhelms them and how they can help. Remote employees can embrace this mindset and use it to their advantage.
Of course, in-office employees can do the same thing, scoring brownie points with the boss by helping out with unpleasant tasks. But we’d argue doing this is even more important for remote employees. A service mindset will remind your boss, yet again, that you’re a great employee. And don’t forget to bring up the extra work you took on when it comes time to ask for a pay raise or promotion.
Go the Extra Mile
In addition to taking on extra tasks, consider taking more initiative. Often, employees will sit around and wait for directions and not realize they can do many things that make a difference. Think about innovative ways to help the company, new ways of doing things, or other bold ideas that would impress your boss and senior management.
Depending on your job, there could be any number of ways to take more initiative. For example, if the company is struggling in a specific area and you think of an idea that could help, do the research and develop a proposal. Your solution could help the company tremendously, which would be a great selling point on your resume and a huge win your boss would notice.
When employees grab the bull by the horns, they often launch themselves into promotions. Management sees that you’re a bold, original thinker and problem-solver. Of course, in-office employees can do this, too, but remote workers need to speak up and take the initiative even more.
Sometimes employees forget that the opportunities and on-the-job training they get are invaluable resources. Express your gratitude often to your boss and company for the ways they’ve helped you grow. Little reminders to your boss, often thanking them for their feedback really help.
Also, express gratitude for the ability to work remotely. Remote work has become much more common today, but remember it is still a coveted perk in many companies. Today, more companies are moving to hybrid work models or returning employees to the office. So, if you can work from home, even part-time, let your employer know how much you appreciate it.
When you work from this position of gratitude, your boss will recognize you’re not just coming to them with your hands out and feeling entitled when asking for a raise or promotion. Make it known you really love working for the company and care about the employers’ progress.
Fight Back Against Proximity Bias
According to the Pew Research Center, only about 20% of Americans worked remotely pre-pandemic, but 70% were working from home at the end of 2020. Remote working has become the norm for more companies today, plain and simple. But while remote work has many advantages, getting promoted while working from home can be challenging.
The main thing to remember is that managers can sometimes favor in-office employees over remote ones. In a way, it’s only natural. In-office employees work side-by-side with managers, while remote employees can easily be forgotten about. That’s why it’s so essential for remote workers to put themselves front and center as much as possible.
If you’re working remotely and want to climb the career ladder, remember to take the initiative and communicate with your boss and co-workers as frequently as you can. Proximity bias for remote employees is real, and the more you fight back against it, the better your chances are at a promotion.
Stay tuned to Empire Resume’s blog for more great insights on careers and employment, including articles such as Top 5 Job Search Tips, How to Get a Job in IT, and Mastering the Phone Interview.
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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.