How to Work Remotely and Still Advance Your Career

Can not being in the office every day hurt your career? Does working remotely lessen your perceived importance?

The answer to both of those questions could be a “Yes,” if you don’t do things the right way.

However, if you do all the right things, working remotely can actually push your career forward and open up all kinds of opportunities.

Here are the challenges you face and how to overcome them.

Be Invaluable Instead of Expendable

You’re at an immediate disadvantage if many of your coworkers are in the office every day and you’re working remotely.

Your smiling face isn’t there in person every day. You’re not there to take part in team-building exercises or company outings.

There are those who have said this makes them an easy target when it comes time to make cuts. Maybe managers feel that letting you go is better for morale than people actually seeing a person they work with every day let go?

The key to fighting this is making your work more important than your face. You need to be the company’s rockstar. Your managers need to wonder what they ever did without you and never want to lose your particular set of skills.

Be Present, Even When You’re Not There

Being remote puts an incredibly high priority on still “being there.” You have to be the first one to log into a teleconference, and keep yourself 100% accessible by promptly responding to IMs and emails.

You also have to keep in constant contact with your managers and flag any issues well in advance. There is a perceived problem with “scope creep” with remote workers.

Always be crystal clear about what you’re working on, how long you will be working on it, and anything that could affect these expectations.

Note: If you’re in a different time zone, you need to adjust the hours you work to fit with when your coworkers are in office. If coworkers can only reach you a few hours a day, or they have to wait a long time for email/IM replies, this can make you an easy target for blame when deadlines are missed.

Avoid Office-Politics

Just because you’re nowhere near the office cooler, doesn’t mean you can’t partake in office cooler gossip.

It is arguably more important for you to avoid office gossip for two reasons:

  1. You want everyone to like you, with no reason for “beef”
  2. There is a digital trail of everything you say to coworkers

As tempting as it may be to rant over Slack that another coworker isn’t pulling their weight, or that they will probably be let go soon, just don’t do it.

Use Your Time to Your Advantage

You have the luxury of rolling out of bed, pouring some coffee and getting down to work. Your in-office workers are busy getting dressed, showering and commuting into the office. You don’t have to waste your time doing this, so use your time.

Getting an early start to the day looks great on you and it’s good for coworkers to see emails or notifications from you at 7 and 8 am, while they’re still commuting.

The key takeaway here is, quite simply, you have to be your best self when you’re working remotely. If you’re not in the office to defend yourself if something goes wrong, you have to make sure everything goes right nearly all of the time.