12 Ways to Break Down Remote Work Barriers to Career Advancement

12 Ways to Break Down Remote Work Barriers to Career Advancement

Table of Contents

How does someone see career advancement when working from home? The glass ceiling that impedes women and members of minorities is one challenge. Now ‘virtual’ walls have been added into the mix.  It’s a very real new-ish reality that threatens the professional progress of talented, aspiring employees.

Does remote work negatively impact career growth?

As HR professionals, executive leaders and direct managers, we all have a new obligation and that’s to figure out how to break down those “out of sight, out of mind” walls getting in the way of career advancement. Especially for the rock-star talent that’s hard to come by and often even harder to retain.

Studies have shown that despite better performance, remote workers are 50% less likely to receive performance-based promotions than their onsite colleagues. But the pandemic shift toward remote work is a great leveler. The problem is: how does an up-and-coming employee, whose exposure nowadays is typically limited to team Zoom meetings and one-on-one virtual sessions with their immediate supervisor, get more visibility? How do we make sure they’re picked up on the radar of higher-ups and promotion plans?


“It can be hard to climb the ladder when no one can see you.”

 – The Wall Street Journal


Getting the work of your employees noticed is a managerial responsibility. But most of us aren’t familiar with the kind of dynamics remote work introduces.

Here are a dozen ways to improve career advancement by giving employees the virtual visibility they deserve.

1. Provide frequent updates to all of your team about what’s happening higher up the organizational ladder so that everyone’s aware of priorities and expectations and can align their own priorities and expectations accordingly.

2. Know what your people are doing so you can be their advocate. Keep regular one-on-one Sync-Ups with every member of your team. Hold daily or weekly team stand-ups where everyone has the opportunity to report their biggest accomplishment since the last gathering. Have some kind of system in place to track task progress (and to keep records for easy retrieval and sharing purposes).

3. Invite team members to applaud the exemplary efforts of their colleagues and others elsewhere in the organization. Send a note of congratulatory recognition. Forward these compliments and any other glowing reviews to HR, your management peers and superiors.

4. Find out if anyone on your team wants to take on more or different work. If someone shows an interest and has the aptitude and bandwidth to tackle more than their usual work, invite them to help you out with tasks that will broaden their exposure and experience of the organization.

5. Identify opportunities for individuals to strut their stuff, for instance, attending meetings outside of those directly connected to their immediate team, or giving presentations to different groups, departments, managers, divisions and geographic regions. Steer employees toward industry webinars, podcasts and other events where they can showcase their expertise.

6. Arrange for your top talent to demonstrate their proficiency by having them present an update report, project briefing, or innovative proposal at high-level strategic planning sessions (and executive/board meetings if applicable).

7. Be sure to bring the good work of underrepresented people to the forefront in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

8. Much like the chit-chat we imagine takes place in teachers’ lunchrooms, talk about the accomplishments of individuals on your team to others equal to or more senior than yourself. Think of it as a “manager’s bragging rights”. Share their triumphs with pride.

9. If you hear others talking about something related to an individual’s work or interest, urge them to loop your team member in; raise your hand on their behalf – volunteer them for projects.

10. Watch how your people interact with one another: who spreads positivity, makes others feel good, deals well with confrontation, is a supportive team player with demonstrable emotional intelligence. Make a point of bringing their leadership skills to the attention of your organization’s leaders.

11. If your organization is maintaining an office presence as the pandemic ebbs and flows, and decisions continue to be made at onsite meetings around the boardroom table, advocate for your remote talent to help keep them involved, or at the very least, front of mind. Come to the table with KPIs and other metrics that illustrate revenue increases, time and cost efficiencies, overall productivity gains, and creative problem-solving outcomes – naming the individuals responsible – giving credit where credit is due.

12. Encourage members of your team to network. Even if it’s outside of their comfort zone, there’s nothing wrong and everything to gain by inviting someone from a different team, another manager, or an executive they’ve never interacted with to meet for a virtual coffee chat.

What it all comes down to is working collaboratively across management lines to promote the interests, capabilities, and career advancement of promising talent working from home. Showcase the rising stars your leaders may not know about, or may not interact with on any kind of regular or occasional basis. Ask employees for input. What ideas do they have for increasing their visibility? For being virtually seen and heard by the right eyes and ears? Listen to feedback. Pay attention to insights. Test recommendations. Finesse approaches. And then go back to draw more insights from the well of employee experiences waiting to be shared and heard.