28 maj Out of sight
Out of sight
The risk of falling off the workplace radar, when you work from home
I had a zoom-coffee with my friend Camilla the other day, and I asked about her Corona-life and how she was dealing with working from home. Camilla works in health-tech as head of communications for a brand that is part of a global company, and as of the last couple of months she works from her home in South London. ‘I’m exhausted’ she said. ‘Most days I’m on the phone or in meetings between 10-12 hours and I have to spend some of my weekends catching up. It’s been crazy!’ Camilla is one of many for whom the Corona-virus lock-down has created a lot more work than usual, as corporate communication takes on a whole new and more urgent role.
“The Corona-virus lock-down has created a lot more work than usual”
As Camilla’s kids are grown-up, it seems as if everyone else just assumes that she has plenty of time, so they keep dumping things on her desk – even more than usual. ‘Perhaps I’m also a little to blame myself, because I offered to coordinate communication about the Covid-19 situation for the whole company, not really knowing what a floodgate I opened there!’ She went on to talk about how she now had become party to all the internal and political goings-on as she was being cc’ed onto everyone’s emails. This had resulted in endless meetings and a deluge of emails, all of which made it hard for her to keep up.
“…they keep dumping things on her desk…”
Camilla usually travels an awful lot all over the world, and this is something she doesn’t miss. Not having to spend endless hours on the road, in the air, or battling with jet-lag in a conference hotel has been a welcome change. But gone are also the opportunities for networking and making contact with others, nourishing relationships and gleaning useful information from all the informal meetings and events, in which she normally participates. So, her possibilities for negotiating informally with all those, who are important for her job, are greatly reduced. But this is also where some of the new responsibilities she has taken on could become an interesting alternative.
“…gone are the opportunities for networking…”
A strategic boost
Although I was a little concerned to hear how much time my friend spends working, glued to her chair and looking at a screen, I also sensed that she found her new role as coordinator rather fascinating. It was obvious that she had become an even more central employee in the organization, significantly boosting her reputation as someone who gets things done, stuff organized, everything moving along. Not a bad image to have, I thought, and we talked about the value of being top of mind with a range of people within the company, and how this could help in future negotiations about terms and conditions for her work. She has put herself in a very visible spot, and we agreed that she ought to take advantage of this and become even more strategic in the way she maneuvers in the organizational landscape from now on.
“…she had become an even more central employee in the organization..”
Making your mark and influencing important people by letting them know what you do well can be a challenge at the best of times. During these unusual weeks and months of the Corona-virus, it might be even harder. So, keep a sharp eye out for whether your work and your efforts disappear from sight and consequently go unnoticed and unappreciated. You might not be in a position to take on the coordination of the entire corona-communication like Camilla did, but make sure you sit down and analyze your current work situation to see if you have become too invisible and how to turn this around. Perhaps you can offer to facilitate some online meetings? Or find ways of making sure to share important information and results with your boss in writing, now that meeting in person is not an option? These new routines also open up for the possibility to improve things for yourself at work, so watch out for strategic opportunities to show the world how well you do.
“…keep a sharp eye out for whether your work and your efforts disappear…”
Camilla will probably keep up her mad pace at work for another couple of weeks, but instead of just breathing a sigh of relief when things return to normal, she is now looking at her various job functions with a view to weeding out those that do not make sense any longer and that she enjoys the least. And perhaps keeping some of the new and more strategic roles she has recently carved out for herself.