Do you feel invisible? 4 ways YOU can be considered a remote worker
Women have been particularly affected by layoffs and job losses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. On top of that, many mothers have quit their jobs to meet the demands of taking care of their homes and children, creating economic insecurity for themselves and their families.
It’s easy to see why women who stay in the workforce might feel tempted to lay a low profile until Covid-19 is under control … or the kids are back to school full time … or whether they are back in the office after a long stint working from home. It all seems so tenuous, so why rock the boat?
However, now might be the perfect time to brag about your contributions to your workplace and make yourself more visible and valuable. With tight budgets and lean workforces, employers need every worker they’ve left and are ready to listen to new ideas to improve their bottom line. They are finally realizing that the flexible hours and remote work options that women have been advocating for years actually benefit both employer and employee. Imagine that!
Do not mistake yourself. The last thing I want is to add to the already overflowing to-do lists for women. Rather, I’m trying to counter the understandable urge of women to mute (and not just Zoom!) During this difficult time.
Here’s how you can maintain a high profile at work:
Don’t hide your life.
As the 70 percent of the American workforce who have the privilege of being able to telecommute right now, I have been leading a remote workforce for over a year. And believe it or not, I feel closer to my staff than I did back in the days when we were putting water coolers together. Through video conferencing, I laughed at people’s pets and cooed at their babies – and they saw me in a ponytail and sweatshirts instead of just the “corporate cutout” in a suit. that they remember from the office.
The point is: don’t waste your energy chasing an outdated standard of professionalism. Of course, it makes sense to find a relatively clean and quiet workspace, but real life has a way of creeping into it – and you shouldn’t try to shut it down. Far from harming a bogus “brand,” the texture of your life actually makes you more memorable and more accessible to others. Too often people tout work-life balance when we should be promoting work-life balance. Shouldn’t we all be able to authentically live and breathe at work?
That said, if you’re reluctant to let your coworkers see your home for any reason, consider using a Zoom background that highlights your personality or sharing insight into how pandemic life is. changed or challenged you. Chances are, someone else had the same fight.
Create opportunities for collaboration.
One of the difficulties of working remotely is the lack of fruitful conversations that happen by chance – the big idea born at the vending machine or on the way to the parking lot. At my workplace, we have tried to encourage chats like these by launching interdepartmental virtual teams around various organizational projects.
You can do something similar. Host a Zoom meeting where your team meets other departments with no set agenda – a sort of digital ‘open house’. Or follow up one-on-one with people from other departments and career levels to set up a make-up call or virtual coffee break. If you’re running out of time or zooming out, you can just ping people to say hello to you via an instant message. These approaches can be especially useful if you are a new hire starting out in an entirely remote workplace.
Bosses, take note: When you sign up, create welcoming virtual environments so new team members don’t bear the burden of building community.
Enter a word.
Unfortunately, switching from the boardroom to Zoom won’t magically erase the ingrained gender dynamics that make it difficult for women to be heard. Bias exists in the virtual world, just as it did in the office. Over the past year or so, you’ve likely found yourself interrupted or ignored in meetings, or felt déjà vu when a male colleague pitched your idea as his.
Use all the tools at your disposal to intervene: chat and handling functions on video platforms, follow-up emails and “human” resources in the form of allies who will redirect conversations when ‘one person or group dominates. Meeting organizers can help by asking participants to send in ideas before the meeting and capturing them in their notes.
Hold firmly to your limits.
You might think that taking on another coworker’s job will get you noticed, but burying yourself in unassigned tasks might make you even less visible at work. Instead, schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss how expanding your role – and your salary – will benefit you and the company. When you highlight your ability to prioritize tasks with a high ROI, you’ll likely find that your organization is willing to make its own investment – in you.
Kim Church is the CEO of the American Association of University Women, a national, non-partisan nonprofit organization that works to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education and to advocacy.