Do you wonder how your work can shine through and how to receive the respect you deserve while working in a hybrid or fully remote asynchronous work culture? It is possible to become your own best advocate with just a few shifts in perspective and action.
Let People Know About You!
Since your betta fish doesn’t do emails and your beagle can’t tell people what a fabulous human you are, you are your biggest advocate when it comes to your workplace and career success. Working remotely is awesome, but you do have to work a little harder to be visible to others, beyond your two-dimensional appearances in the Zoom room.
As you adjust to working without subtleties and learn the digital equivalent of traditional body language, be sure you are asking yourself: “Do my boss and coworkers know I’m here? Do they know how I contribute to the team effort?”
If you don’t have a clear answer to those questions, it’s time to set up a plan to make yourself seen. You can begin with a few of wrkfrce’s most useful tips on how to thrive as a remote worker.
- Asynchronous Communication: What It Is and Why You Need It
- Communicating Effectively and Responsibly Through Text
- How to Stand Out and Get Promoted as a Remote Employee
- How to Build Trust with Your Employer as a Remote Worker
With these skills and practices, you are creating a foundation for asking bigger (and more interesting!) questions: Are you ready for more responsibility, better projects, or even a promotion? Do your employer and your team truly understand your worth? Are you getting paid what you’re worth?
Self-Advocacy: What the Experts Say
Are you an introvert who loves to work in the background? That may be why you love remote work—but don’t overdo the quiet stuff. Anjela Mangrum, president of Mangrum Career Solutions, advises remote workers to “try striking up a conversation with your peers, ask them how it’s going, and show genuine interest by being inquisitive.” In return, when you are asked about your own work, “you have your chance to advocate for yourself.”
The remote workplace requires more effort (yours, not theirs) to be “seen.” As career coach and author Darcy Eikenberg explains, you need to speak up on video calls and making the occasional, intentional trip (if possible) to see people in person. Your betta fish gets to see your face in real life every day ... shouldn’t your colleagues get the same chance once in a while?
Since your boss largely determines if you are properly valued and appreciated, make sure you stay in touch so you don’t get overlooked. According to Abby Kohut, owner of the recruiting company Staffing Symphony, if people schedule regular check ins with their supervisor, they avoid getting ignored. Team meetings alone are not adequate: You can get ignored or forgotten if you’re just meeting with the group. This is especially true if everyone else is a “talker” and you’re not.
That’s why human resources manager Mary Alice Pizana encourages remote workers to take the initiative to ask for a check-in with their supervisors as a great first step. Remember that your supervisor is busy, so set the meeting up for success: “Determine what you want out of the conversation and why you deserve a particular request.” Don’t be icky—but don’t be shy about making the boss aware of your contributions.
Self-advocacy also includes dealing with things that aren’t going well. This is not the time to be vaguely polite. Give the thing a name: If your team is leaving you out of the loop on important decisions, cite a specific time this happened and ask for help. Your boss may need more background since they may not see you and your team in person every day.
Final Word: Respect Goes Both Ways
Obviously, you want to avoid being a bully, harasser, or discriminator, and you should call out people when they mistreat you—or when you witness them mistreating others. The rest of the time, however, respect is about managing the inevitable disagreements that happen when people work together.
You can’t magically make conflict go away, but you can mitigate it by finding common ground. Executive coach Joel Garfinkle believes you should “find something to talk about that’s not the subject of your difficulty.” Katie McCleary, a writer on workplace communication, says she responds to conflict by listening: “I have to hold myself to being open and to truly hearing them without getting triggered, without getting defensive, and without wanting to jump in.”
Mutual respect is good for everyone. While self-advocacy is essential, it’s also important to help those who are being disregarded. Think of it as a virtuous cycle. If you want your own needs answered, your colleagues must be in a position to do so by being able to effectively advocate for themselves too.
That’s why business writer Gorick Ng argues that people who have advantages in the workplace should not only use it to help themselves advance, but to help those who are struggling to be heard. “Just because someone isn’t speaking up in meetings doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say. There may just be someone else talking louder, for longer.” Your goal, as self-advocate and then coworker advocate, is to contribute to a workplace environment in which each person is respected and valued.
Remember, advocating for yourself is not a matter of making excessive demands or taking advantage of others. The essence of self-advocacy is winning the respect you do deserve. Approach advocating for yourself with quiet confidence rather than shame or self-consciousness. As HR specialist Diane Cook explains, “A key part in self-advocacy is understanding where your strengths are and how they are being applied to the company.” Advocating for yourself is a matter of knowing your worth.