Remote work’s a dream in a lot of ways. You can, essentially, make your own schedule! There’s no lining up to catch the bus on a dark and dreary Monday morning! You only need to dress professionally from the waist up! However, it’s not all sunshine, rainbows and creature comforts. An increasing number of studies show that remote employees are falling victim to something called “proximity bias”.

Basically, proximity bias means that managers, whether intentionally or not, have a tendency to favour in-office employees, often seeing them as better, more capable workers than their remote counterparts. The result? Remote employees are frequently overlooked when it comes time for promotions or pay raises.

We know, we know – it’s not fair. You shouldn’t need to be physically ‘in the office’ to be considered a star employee, a supportive colleague or strong leader.

Now that brings us to the big question: how do you demonstrate to your boss that what matters is *how* you work, not *where* you work?

Make sure you’re visible

What’s that old saying – out of sight, out of mind? As a remote employee, you need to double down on your efforts to get facetime with both your managers and colleagues, helping you stay front of mind and demonstrating that you’re just as engaged as any other member of the team.

If you’re close enough to the physical workspace to pop in once in a while, that’s a great idea! If not, try to make sure you’ve got your camera on in meetings whenever possible (as much as it might pain you to do so!). Remember to dress appropriately for Zoom calls – while it may not be necessary to show up decked out in a five-piece suit, you’ll definitely want to avoid showing up on screen in sweatpants or pyjamas. Try and find a comfortable middle ground, taking into account your company’s dress code and culture.

Hone your communication skills

Whether you’re running a business, working on a big project, collaborating with a new client or, hey, even trying to decide where to go for a team lunch, good communication is essential. In a remote position, honing your communication skills is even more important.

When you don’t have the opportunity to swing by your colleague’s desk or catch up with your manager in the kitchen, communication needs to be more intentional – and a significant amount of that communication will happen over email or through an instant message platform like Teams or Slack.

If you’re not totally comfortable with your writing skills, this is a great opportunity to develop that aspect of your professional repertoire! Strive to “over-communicate” (within reason, of course), keeping your manager and team up to date on the status of projects, contributing to planning sessions and responding to queries in a timely manner.

Be accountable, consistent + reliable

Nobody wants to work with someone who consistently drops the ball or misses deadlines, so this section certainly isn’t exclusive to remote workers (so in-office employees, take note!).

You want to be seen as someone who is accountable, consistent and reliable. Somebody who your team can depend on to show up, contribute and manage their time effectively.

It should be noted that, despite antiquated perceptions that remote employees are “less productive”, people working a remote desk report working much longer hours than their on-site counterparts. With this in mind, ensuring you’re taking time for yourself and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is an important part of achieving continued growth, development and, ultimately, success in your remote position. Say no to burnout!

Keep track of your wins

When it comes to career growth, keeping notes of your big achievements is key. While it would be great if your manager noticed and noted down every fantastic thing you do during the course of the workday, that’s simply not possible – especially if they’re overseeing a distributed team!

Having a record of completed projects, successful campaigns and other big wins is an invaluable tool when you’re gunning for a pay raise or promotion. Track your successes and don’t be afraid to share these wins with your manager during your regular check-ins!

For many of us, the thought of “tooting our own horn” is considerably cringe-worthy, but, for future-focused professionals, it’s essential that you advocate for yourself and keep your boss updated on all the good work you’ve been doing lately.

Be vocal about what you want

As the Spice Girls once sang, “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.” Taken entirely out of context, let’s just pretend they’re referring to what you want from your career in the present and the future.

So – what do you want?

  • Give this question ample time and consideration, and try to go beyond the generic answers (eg. “A huge raise!”, “To climb the ladder!”).
  • Consider your career goals for the next three months, six months and beyond. Where do you see yourself this time next year?
  • Share your ambitions with your manager, and ask what you can do to get there. Any manager worth their salt will want to help you take the steps necessary to make your aspirations a reality.
  • Ask for feedback! It’s possible that your manager has noticed some strengths or skills that you’ve overlooked in yourself, so getting their opinion can help you get a clearer idea of what path you’d be suited for moving forward.


Seek out opportunities for professional development

Embracing a “lifetime of learning” mindset is one of the best ways to ensure your career growth doesn’t stall. Building a diverse skillset is a great way to keep your professional development on track, to keep you curious, challenged and engaged and to demonstrate to upper management that you’re ambitious, driven and eager to grow with the organization.

Many company’s offer extensive training and leadership development courses to staff – if you aren’t sure if yours is one of they, it’s definitely worth inquiring and expressing your interest.

If your organization doesn’t provide much in the way of training (beyond the standard company on-boarding for new hires), don’t fret! We’re lucky to be living in a time where there’s no shortage of amazing (and often totally free!) resources online for you to explore.

Consider what specific skills you’d like to work on, then give it a good ol’ fashioned Google and look for a course that seems like the best fit for you.

Flex your networking skills, inside the office and out

No, you won’t be there for Friday afternoon happy hour. Nope, you can’t weigh in on the latest episode of White Lotus in the break room. Without the opportunity to connect with your colleagues casually, you’ll, again, need to be more intentional about getting to know them and building those relationships.

The nice thing about being in a remote position is that you can curate relationships with people on your team just as easily as you can with those outside your department – after all, it’s all happening on Zoom anyway, so what’s the difference? If there’s someone within your organization who you’d like to learn more about (maybe they’ve got a super interesting career path or they’re the go-to person for, well, everything!), it might be worth asking them if they’d be up for a *totally casual* virtual chat.

The more connections you make, the better for your professional brand and, ultimately, your career growth. You’ll learn more about the organization, the culture and the dynamic relationships that exist within the organization.

And, of course, don’t be afraid to branch out! LinkedIn’s whole deal is creating opportunities for likeminded professionals to connect, so it’s definitely worthwhile to keep your profile updated, peruse networking events in your area and look for opportunities to build relationships in your sector.

Be aware that growing can mean outgrowing

As you grow, both personally and professionally, you’ll learn more about yourself, what you value and what you want in the future. As you explore these things, you may realize that your company simply isn’t the best fit for you – and that’s okay!

There are loads of organizations out there who’ll offer you support, mentorship and guidance as you navigate your career journey. If you’re curious about new opportunities, we’d be more than happy to connect for a conversation.