If you work on a hybrid team, where people may be in the office one day and not on another, or some are in all the time, while others pop in and out, and are frequently not in the office where the action is, it’s important to remember the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind.” In fact, it might be the most important factor in your success as a teammate.
In hybrid teams, people might be physically together one day, and then not see each other for days or weeks. Or some people might be together in the same place most of the time, while others are seldom seen at all. This is why such teams are a little more complex than teams where everyone is co-located, or where all parties are remote.
People are visual creatures. When we see each other, there is a lot of spontaneous communication that takes place. It’s less formal, more frequent, and (not for nothing), often more enjoyable. It’s natural that when there’s a question to be asked, a favor granted, or just a conversation to engage in, we turn to the people who are in eyeshot.
But what if you’re the person who is often out of the office? While others are eating pizza, kidding each other about last night’s game, or huddling together to solve a crisis, you’re being left out. Sure, it is nice to be left alone to get your work done and avoid “office politics,” but being excluded can be demoralizing and even damage your career.
So how can you be visible to your teammates when you’re not in the office? In “The Long-Distance Teammate, Stay Engaged and Connected While Working Anywhere,” we call this Ethical Visibility. Here are some simple suggestions for being visible to your manager and your teammates without looking like a needy, attention-seeker:
- Use your webcam when you’re not in the office and if you’re in the office talking to someone who isn’t. It’s tempting when you’re at home to stay in your sweats till noon, and as long as you’re getting your work done, who cares? But if that stops you from using your webcam so you are literally visible to your co-workers, you’re missing an opportunity. If you’re in the office, you want to put a face to a name your remote teammates are talking to as well.
- Reach out to your teammates, even the ones you don’t speak to every day. It’s frustrating not to have those casual interactions we have at the coffee machine or passing through cubicles on our way to a meeting. When we are physically present, we say hello, remember to ask questions, and take time to network. When we are remote, it takes work. Being visible can be as simple as sending a quick Slack or Teams message appreciating someone’s comment on a meeting or wishing them happy birthday.
- Meetings are the one moment where you have exposure to the most teammates at the same time. Are you active, engaged, and adding value? Or do you put the meeting on hold, refrain from saying anything, and just go answer your email? If you don’t remind people that you are there and a valuable resource, don’t be surprised when you aren’t top of mind for that assignment.
- Sometimes you’ll have to suck it up and go into the office. It can be tempting to take maximum advantage of flexible working. Setting your own hours, working without interruptions, or not having to wear grown-up clothes are all wonderful. But making the investment in being visible to your team, taking part in social activities and networking with your teammates, and people in other departments, is taking a long-term view of your work.
- Don’t be afraid to offer feedback to your manager as well as your colleagues. Good teammates support each other and are working for the good of the team. Many times (especially when we aren’t in the office), we don’t offer feedback because it’s not our job. Yes, it is. That’s what valuable team members do, and it is how you get a reputation as someone whose opinion matters, no matter where you are sitting.
Visibility can take many forms in today’s workplace. You have both a physical and an online presence. Assuming people will know you’re at their service, without reminding them you exist, can be frustrating.
How will you work on your Ethical Visibility today?
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