Remember those days when career development was an exciting part of professional life? It was a thrill to consider conventions we might attend, courses we might take, mentorship opportunities we might pursue.
Powering through the pandemic accelerated our career development in some key ways. We had to dig deep to succeed as remote operators, adapting our business practices on the fly. These experiences changed us. The anxiety, stress, and heartbreak we weathered, gave us a chance to cultivate new aspects of our professional selves. The pandemic forced us to be unconventional and uncomfortable as we adapted to a new paradigm.
Now, we’re starting to glimpse the next chapter, as vaccines become increasingly available and the economy shows signs that it’s generating momentum. Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain predicts that remote work is here to stay, at least in part, with hybrid arrangements becoming standard in the near future. Here’s your ultimate guide to help you further your career development while working remotely.
“Remote workforces work best with at least some in-person office work. Fully remote teams have financial and recruiting benefits, but also suffer from lower spontaneity, more challenges forming bonds and lower innovation.” Dr. Chamberlain explains. “Prepare for an unprecedented wave of experimentation and innovation around hybrid remote-in-office roles — part remote and part in-office — in 2021 and beyond.” Dr. Chamberlain predicts.
How do you get yourselves professionally prepared to staff a remote or hybrid workforce? A good first step is to identify those self-management skills that you relied on to propel you through the pandemic. Refine those to fuel your professional evolution during the next stage of this remarkable season of personal, professional, and cultural growth.
Stellar remote career growth.
When many professionals left their offices as the pandemic took hold, they were not seasoned remote operators. According to the Pew Research Center, about 20 percent of employees worked remotely pre-COVID while more than 70 percent were working remotely at the close of 2020.
A fair percentage of employees did not just survive remote work, they thrived on the job. Many professionals found their stride, advanced their skills, and cultivated new ones. A Harvard Business School (HBS) online survey of 1,500 professionals who worked remotely in 2020 found exciting results pointing to career growth. The survey results reveal:
HBS Performance data:
· 98 percent succeeded in maintaining their jobs while working from home.
· 33 percent indicated that their performance and professional product improved.
· 33 percent reported greater focus on their work in a remote setting.
HBS Professional development data:
· 35 percent indicated that they read more about their own professional growth.
· 29 percent took action to continue their education.
· 34 percent took career development courses online.
HBS Leadership/team data:
· 50 percent indicated trust in leadership remained intact.
· 50 percent indicated they continued to collaborate well with colleagues.
· 50 percent indicated they continued to get support from colleagues.
HBS Wellness data:
· 34 percent felt a sense of professional burn out.
· 69 percent felt worried about issues going on in the world.
HBS’s survey found that 81 percent of respondents are interested in continuing to work remotely full time or having a hybrid schedule; 61 percent would like to continue working remotely two or three each week, according to the survey.
This is aligned with what Dr. Chamberlain’s research reveals. When he surveyed Glassdoor’s employees, Dr. Chamberlain learned that more than 70 percent of the Glassdoor team would like to continue with a hybrid schedule post-COVID.
“History suggests that most employees will eventually return to in-person work, but likely not for the traditional Monday-through-Friday office routine that has dominated corporate culture for a century. It’s a welcome silver lining of a pandemic that has overturned old ideas about the geography of work and ushered in a new era of tools and openness to remote work.” Dr. Chamberlain shares.
Initiate a new conversation.
The workplace is changing all around us and in real time. This may give employees a rare opportunity to have a hand in shaping the workplace of the future. When it comes to their professional development, the performance review is an important place to start.
Don’t wait to talk about performance like you did in the past. The formulaic quarterly review may not be a meaningful measure of your quarantine hustling; 62% of employees feel like their company’s performance review is surface level and incomplete. So why not take this opportunity to initiate a new conversation about performance?
Kyle Elliott, Founder and Career Coach at Caffeinated Kyle Consulting, advises: “Performance reviews look different when working remotely and telecommuting. Be prepared to proactive and initiate performance conversations with your supervisor. Do not be afraid to ask your supervisor for additional projects that play to your strengths as well as develop your areas of opportunities. Consider setting up a weekly or biweekly one-to-one with your supervisor to review your leadership development and growth.”
Be proactive and ask for feedback ahead of time.
Get ahead of a structured review process by asking for feedback proactively. Inquiring about your performance and asking for feedback helps you grow in your position by giving you a sense of what’s working well and what needs improvement. It also shows your manager that you’re being diligent about evolving in your role.
Marie Krebs, People Operations Manager at Learnerbly, adds: “Remote work changes the performance review conversation in that it takes away a lot of the cues that companies use to get a sense of someone’s fit in the workplace. For example, when working in-person, managers observe how a person interacts with their colleagues, and how engaged they are in the work they’re doing. It’s much more difficult to assess these qualities when people are working remotely. This guide for first-time managers can assist with navigating difficulties like this. . . Because we lose incidental interaction when we don’t work together in person, we all have to be much more purposeful about scheduling conversations when working remotely.”
Collaborate and connect with your network.
Your in-house network, your team and your colleagues, is huge when it comes to the fluidity and ease with which you get work done. Hunkering down and confiding oneself to a siloed professional existence closes you off to one of your greatest professional resources-your colleagues. Your colleagues do more than just work alongside you, they can actually cross train you. They introduce you to new concepts using familiar language and examples.
Foster connections with your colleagues at every turn, and expand your circle whenever possible. “Seek out opportunities across your organization to stretch your leadership skills. Ask your supervisor if there are other roles, tasks, or projects that are available and can use your support. Oftentimes, leaders are simply waiting for you to step up.” Elliott shares.
Explore new projects that expand your internal network and that give you the chance to work with new colleagues on different kinds of projects. It’s a safe situation in which to learn from your colleagues and to show them what you know. Time is always tricky. There’s always plenty of work to do, but consider taking these risks is a professional development opportunity.
Networking is an engine for professional development; both when you engage with your internal network of colleagues and your external network of current and former colleagues, friends, former classmates, clients, etc. Your network is powerful, whether you are seeking insight, support, and guidance or whether you have those things to share.
Elliott advises: “Know that not all personal development has to take place within your current employer. Seek out mentors outside your organization to support your development. Use LinkedIn to identify, connect, and engage with mentors and sponsors.”
Refine your skills.
Identify a professional skill that you know that you could stand to strengthen. Perhaps your communication skills would benefit from a tune up. Maybe you’re petrified by public speaking. Perhaps there’s specific tech skills that you need to refine. Think about those areas where you feel less than confident, and make the commitment to yourself to enhance those areas.
Stretch into a leadership role.
Refine and develop leadership skills. Many employees had to self-manage and juggle multiple priorities during the pandemic. For some, the challenge was overwhelming, but for others it cued them into their budding leadership skills. That’s a stretch assignment that benefits employees and employers alike.
Krebs advises: “An employee wanting to develop their leadership skills needs to ensure that they have communicated this desire to a manager.” She points out that leadership is a specific area where you can engage a mentor’s assistance. This is also an area that could be helpful when it comes to getting sponsorship support.
Forge forward in your career.
When it comes to furthering your career as a remote or hybrid professional, you are in a position to drive professional development. It takes a focused approach, which is part of what makes remote work fulfilling. You have more opportunities to drive fit. Take them. Make yours the job that fits your life.
Now that you know how to guide your remote career, find companies that are right for you!