Despite our best intentions, even the most seasoned remote workers make mistakes from time to time. They’re often unintentional and totally preventable; once committed, they may be momentarily embarrassing and then quickly and easily forgotten. No one is perfect, and this point can sometimes feel magnified in a virtual environment, where distance and isolation can impact professional relationships, growth, and progress. If repeated, however, some of the following could be the kinds of errors that eventually impact a career.
Take care to avoid three of the most common missteps for remote pros:
1. Not asking questions to clarify or reiterate instructions or an opinion.
This is a tough one, because speaking up can make you feel like you aren’t as quick as you’d like to be—or that you might be coming across as less than clever. Maybe you didn’t hear what a colleague said or fully understand what was written in your boss’s last email; no matter the reason, this isn’t a time to feel stupid.
Consider the fact that this likely happens to your superiors and your peers often, and keep an eye on internal channels to see how others express confusion, manage frustration, or request more information. If you absolutely must avoid asking, then go ahead and Google something first—but if that lacks the specificity required to get the job done, ask away! It’s better to inquire and know from the get-go then to reveal it later after wasted time or misdirection on a project.
2. Rarely (or never) reaching out to take on bigger assignments.
Many of us might be guilty of just coasting along in our careers; of seeking the smoother path rather than continuously pushing ourselves to grow. Others may feel more comfortable plugging along without voicing our desire for more. Yet a passive approach where you hope that others will notice your consistent (if not outstanding) work won’t get you further faster.
If you have professional goals, consider how you can start striding toward them rather than crawling. It’s all about observing what’s going on and the actions you deliberately take. A big new client just signed on with your company? A colleague is heading out on leave with a plum project available? The boss mentioned a major conference coming up? Raise your hand and get yourself in the running for it—even if the new task feels like a stretch assignment. It’s an investment in your remote future!
3. Leaving professional development up to your employer or manager.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in your current role that you push aside training, growing your network, or keeping up on new skills in your industry. Perhaps you’re not sure where to look for these opportunities, or what (if any) budget exists for this kind of thing. Or maybe you trust that your boss will take the lead. Either way, you’re likely not alone.
Rather than proactively seeking out learning opportunities—some as accessible as a click away—there are plenty of remote workers out there who aren’t taking charge of their growth. Without the brick-and-mortar HR programs available in many traditional offices, it’s true that professional development from a distance does present a bigger challenge. That’s all the more reason to join professional groups on social media networks or interest-focused communities on Slack, for example, or to scout out conferences that can be attended face-to-face or from your home office. Making your growth a priority will ensure that you don’t fall behind as technologies and industries change.
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