Hybrid and remote working pose many of the same challenges to both employees and their bosses, albeit on the opposite side of the coin. One good example is equality. Employers strive to treat employees fairly and equitably. However, there is concern that less visible remote employees may be less likely to be promoted.
Research cited by BBC in the article, “Why In-Person Workers May be More Likely to Get Promoted,” shows that employees working from home – regardless of their productivity – “lack of facetime with colleagues and managers, which negatively impacts promotions, and ultimately may stall careers.”
Success is a two-way street
Creating successful relationships and work outcomes is a two-way street – both employees and employers need to take ownership for fulfilling their responsibilities to each other. In the situation described by the BBC article above, a remote employee can help maintain visibility with their manager and peers by erring on the side of over-communicating, striving for transparency, turning their camera on during Zoom meetings, and (if possible) being available in person for key meetings, like a project kick-off, or a quarterly review with the boss.
If you have flexibility in planning your in-office time, you can be strategic in selecting which days you’ll be present, and avoid being impacted negatively by some of the issues unique to remote and hybrid working. Here are some things to consider as you organise your schedule.
Understand some of your manager’s key challenges
Chances are your boss is struggling just as much as you are with all of the workplace changes, and they could use your empathy just as much as you’d appreciate theirs.
“Managing a remote team is challenging for most people because it requires more communication, more forethought, more planning, and more emotional intelligence. And before this year, many managers had never done it before, and many have still received little training from their organization about how to do it well,” writes Morra Aarons-Mele ( @morraam) in her Harvard Business Review article titled “Anxious About Hybrid Work? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions.”
Key issues that are made more difficult by remote work include creating an inclusive environment, building trust between people, and keeping culture intact. Consider how you can support your leader, team, and company in these areas. Here are some ideas to consider when determining when to be in the office, and when to work remotely.
- Inclusion. Whilst employers are figuring out how to ensure all employees – whether remote or on-site – are visible and involved in meetings and projects, smart individuals who know themselves well should consider whether they’re personally more effective participating in the room or on Zoom and plan accordingly.
- Building trust between teams and between manager and employee is often made more difficult by remote working. Employees should keep this in mind, and use in-office time to bolster their accountability and relationships. Strive to be there in person for key project meetings, department meetings, and 1:1 with your manager (and, for that matter, any direct reports you manage.)
- Keeping culture and relationships between people intact is another worry for many leaders. Our advice: fight against allowing isolation to take over. Set a goal of having a one-on-one conversation (even if just to catch up) with a colleague each day. You’ll stay connected, and help others to do so as well.
Aarons-Mele also notes in her article paying attention to how success is measured. Clearly communicating project status, progress toward set goals, and business outcomes will aid your manager in those efforts, and also reinforce their trust and confidence in you.
Assume positive intent
This last piece of advice can be the most difficult to take on board, but it’s valuable advice for all facets of life. Instead of rushing to judgment, take a minute and assume positive intent. Challenge yourself to assume that the other person is doing their best. Assume they have no ulterior motives. Refrain from reading unwritten or unsaid meaning into communications. It can be hard to do, but when you make assuming positive intent your superpower and your standard practice, you will radiate positivity, clarity, and transparency to your peers and colleagues, and you’ll be rewarded with their trust, esteem, and cooperation.
If you value working remotely, the best way to ensure you’re able to do so is to play an active part in making it a success for your organisation.