Is Your Remote Work Arrangement Hurting Your Career?

These days, a large number of workers are opting to do their jobs from home rather than drag themselves into an office day in, day out. There are several benefits to working remotely. First, there’s the savings from not having to pay to commute, not to mention the time saved by avoiding traffic. Working from home can also make for a less distracting environment, and that, in turn, can lead to less stress and better output.

But there’s a downside to working from home, too, and it’s not just the missed opportunity to socialize in person. Research shows that managers continue to value face time, and as such, might favor employees who come to the office regularly over those who do their jobs remotely — even when those work-from-home arrangements don’t impact individual performance in any way.

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If you’re pursuing a remote work arrangement, be aware that it might negatively impact your career. At the same time, recognize that there are some things you can do to avoid that fate.

Being present from afar

Let’s be clear: Working from home won’t always hurt your career. But there is something to be said for interacting with your manager and colleagues on a regular basis. Missing out on the chance to develop those relationships could impede your ability to climb the ranks or snag important assignments, even if your boss isn’t excluding you intentionally.

Another thing to realize is that proximity often lends to decision-making. If your manager comes upon a project to give out, it may go to the first person who walks by their office in an effort to get moving. And if you work from home, that person won’t be you.

Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to better ingrain yourself in office life. First, make a point of attending meetings. Technology makes it easy to do so remotely, so find out what your team is up to and ask to be an active participant.

Next, make a point to touch base with your colleagues and manager every day or at whatever frequency is reasonable for your boss, given his or her schedule. A quick email or instant message will remind the folks you work with that you’re plugging away and available should your help be needed.

At the same time, don’t take working remotely to an extreme. If it’s feasible for you to get into your office once a week, make that effort, even if it means dealing with a packed train or road congestion on the way in. If that’s not possible, show up occasionally and make it an event. Schedule meetings with key people and give plenty of notice so that the folks you work with recognize that you’re going out of your way to connect in person.

In an ideal world, working from home wouldn’t limit your career prospects in any way. But if your manager values in-person communication, your arrangement might hurt you even if you’re the hardest worker on your team. The more of an effort you make to stay involved in workplace happenings and communicate with your manager and peers, the less backlash you’re likely to face from what should be an overwhelmingly beneficial arrangement.

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