The question of how to make a good impression and ensure you’re being noticed when you’re not in the office is cropping up more frequently as remote work is the new default for many of us. When you’re working from home and not in the same physical space as your colleagues, there will naturally be a different dynamic compared to if you would see them everyday. In an ideal world, we would all simply be judged on the quality of the work we’re producing. However, in our busy and competitive modern workplaces this isn’t always the case. There’s a risk that you keep completing tasks to a high standard and yet you feel that no one is taking notice. We all need to manage the impression we’re making on our colleagues, managers and even potential future employers and this requires a bit more thought when working remotely.
The good news is that with all the remote working tools we now have at our disposal, there are several ways to ensure that you’re still making a good impression. Here are some tips to help you impress away from the office.
If you have regular one to one meetings with your line manager, make sure you make the most of these to highlight your achievements. You might be a little shy about doing this but it’s very important that your line manager is aware of progress. After all, this is the person who is likely to put you up for that next promotion or pay rise. It might be helpful to prepare a list of what you’ve been working on and order these by your biggest wins. If possible, quantify these things in terms of things like time, cost or ROI which makes it easy to see the impact of your work. It also gives your manager some figures to use when they’re reporting on your progress to their own superiors.
Make a note of any positive feedback you’ve received from clients or colleagues as well. You may not want to forward on these messages directly to your manager as that may feel like going a little overboard but you should be able to mention this feedback naturally in your meetings.
When your manager asks what progress you’ve made this week, you’ll be ready to impress.
There are plenty of workers who are getting into the habit of turning their cameras off during meetings or not having them on at all to start with. This is especially noticeable in group calls. You might see someone’s avatar pop up mid-way through a group meeting and wonder whether they’re doing something else rather than paying attention, or whether they’re still there at all. This doesn’t look good to your colleagues, managers or clients so keep your camera on and engage with the meeting even if you’re not leading it. There might not be many opportunities to see these people, so make the most of the ones you have.
As the saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Keeping your camera switched off will make it much harder for you to make an impression.
There may be some projects that aren’t on your task list that would be good for your own professional development. If this is the case, or there are some projects that need volunteers, put yourself forward for them. It can be easy to let these opportunities slip by when working remotely but by raising your virtual hand, you’ll let your managers know you’re still thinking about ways to progress and keen to take on a bit of extra responsibility.
When you’re working in an office, you can be networking constantly with other members of your own organisation. Meetings with other members of other departments, chatting about a project over a cup of tea in the kitchen, attending a training session with other colleagues: these are all helping you develop your professional network. Working remotely requires a more deliberate approach to networking. If you’re not currently working closely with certain key contacts, you may want to start organising things like virtual coffee dates to keep up with them.
It’s not just about networking within your organisation either, make sure you continue networking with others within your industry and potential new clients. Keep up to date with what’s happening on LinkedIn and sign up for conferences and networking events. The Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the popularity of virtual networking events as well, many of which are free, so sign up to these. You may also find that in place of physical conferences, speakers have provided videos of their talks with online access to these.
Asking your colleagues and managers for feedback is key to helping you progress professionally. Make sure you’re still doing this when working remotely and adjusting your behaviour accordingly. If it sounds like you could improve your skills in a certain area, ask if there’s any training available for this. Being proactive about personal development will always leave a good impression with your superiors.
Asking a colleague for feedback on a particular project or piece of work or just asking your line manager for general feedback on your overall progress brings you into focus in that person’s mind. In order to provide an answer they will have to actively think about your work and progress meaning they will have to take notice.
You want your colleagues to feel that they can rely on you. This is especially important when working remotely as a good level of trust is essential for a productive working relationship, particularly with your managers.
Get yourself organised so you know exactly what pieces of work to prioritise and that you’re punctual and prepared for all video and phone calls. You don’t want to start missing deadlines and end up with someone waiting for you to complete your part of a project before they can proceed with theirs. It might be helpful to look at your task list and calendar at the beginning of each day and write down your priorities for that day.
If you’ve sorted through your tasks and are still worried about your workload, let your manager know before you start to struggle and miss deadlines or start to turn in work that’s not of your usual quality.
Clear and consistent communication is key to successful remote working. This will usually require sending more emails and instant messages to colleagues during the day than it would in the office. After all, you can’t just nip over to someone’s desk to check something quickly. It is important that you keep up with emails and check any messages frequently so as not to frustrate any colleagues that need answers from you and to keep yourself in the loop. When you’re taking your breaks, get into the habit of changing your status on tools like Slack so people will know why you aren’t responding if they catch you when you’re having lunch.
Working remotely requires us to be a little more proactive about managing the impression we’re making on colleagues, managers and clients. It’s very easy to just put your head down, get on with your work and not worry about making a good impression too much. However, if you do this there is a risk that your progress and achievements will go unrecognised and unrewarded.
In order to make progress professionally, you will need to be sending the right signals about your work and your work ethic to everyone you work with. When you’re working remotely, it’s more important than ever to make the most of your meetings with your line manager and make that extra effort to continue networking. Get yourself organised and be fully present on all video calls, making sure your camera is switched on. If your schedule allows, volunteer for an extra project or two, ask for some feedback and keep up the communication. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to making a great impression with the people that count.