Staying Visible While Working Remotely
While many employees have enjoyed the newfound flexibility and freedom that comes with working from home, some do have concerns or hesitations about how well these arrangements may work for them long-term.
Proximity bias is a buzz phrase that’s been bandied about since remote, or hybrid, work has become commonplace. It refers to the belief that “people in positions of power tend to treat workers who are physically closer to them more favorably,” according to Harvard Business Review.
It’s a concern that is not unwarranted. Looking at research from SHRM, 67% of supervisors and managers admitted to believing remote workers are more replaceable than onsite workers, while 42% said they had a tendency to sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks.
That’s clearly cause for concern among employees working from home. Fortunately, there are some things they can do to stay visible even when working remotely.
Create a Morning Routine
It’s important for employees to get into a work mindset when they start their day. That happens naturally when they’re physically showing up in the office. In remote settings, though, it’s important for them to be mindful of creating a morning routine that readies them for work—whether it’s just having breakfast, working out, journaling, or something else.
Instead of just rolling out of bed and turning on the computer, have a routine that helps you feel mentally and physically prepared, whether it’s a morning workout, breakfast, or a quick cup of coffee. Setting aside this time at the beginning of the day is crucial to remaining effective throughout the day.
Dress Like You’re at the Office
Along the same lines, getting ready or “dressed up”—at least to the business casual level—can put you in the right frame of mind for work. This is especially crucial when you have a lot of meetings, and there’s evidence to support the positive impact that dressing for success can have. While there’s no need to dress in formal business attire, working in pajamas or sweatpants isn’t likely to make you feel particularly energized.
Create an “Office” Space You Enjoy
Our surroundings also impact our mood and productivity. Create a space where you can work with minimal distractions—and that you can “leave” when the workday is over. One of the challenges of working from home is the tendency to be in “work mode” too much of the time. It’s important to find your work-life balance.
Create a space that is comfortable and enjoyable for you that makes you happy and productive during the workday, but that you can get away from when it’s time to “go home.” Whether that’s shutting a physical office door, or simply turning off your light or laptop, or tucking in your chair, the transition from work to personal life is important.
Get on Camera When Opportunities Exist
Some employees say they don’t like having to be on camera so much of the time while they work from home. But being on camera is one very visible way to show up and stay connected. It’s also an important way to connect, and stay connected, with other employees—some who you may never have worked with in person. Make it a practice to get on camera as regularly as possible.
Be Organized With Your Time
Many employees report that they’re more productive working from home than when in the office, but productivity requires purpose. Find ways to free yourself from potential distractions, carve out times for focus when you’re at your most productive, and take time to take breaks from time to time to stay energized.
Track and Communicate Your Progress
Keeping track of your progress, important accomplishments, and deliverables is important for you to feel productive, and is also an important way of staying visible to colleagues and managers. What did you accomplish during the week? What will your priorities be for next week? What milestones did you achieve? If possible, set up a recurring meeting with your manager and colleagues as a touch-base. It’s more clear (and enjoyable) than trying to always communicate your progress via email.
Be Open to Feedback
Since there is the potential for confusion to arise when you’re not physically in the office, it’s important to be open and receptive to feedback. Having a discipline and in-place processes are crucial, but simultaneously being able to adapt is also key. This is where your recurring meetings come in: Not only are they great for communicating your wins, it’s also a great place to solicit feedback on things that can be improved.
The opportunity to work remotely, some or all of the time, represents a number of benefits for employees. But it comes with some potential downfalls, including the chance that you won’t be as visible as your in office counterparts. Taking the steps above can help you both stay visible—and convey a professional and polished image—when working from home.
Proximity bias doesn’t have to impact remote employees if they are mindful and proactive in ensuring that they remain connected in meaningful ways.