Full pot of coffee? Check. Full bank account? Well, mostly.
Remote work offers many advantages, such as the relaxed dress code and flexible schedule, but it also feels isolating at times since your company is mostly your cat or dog. With the feelings of isolation come feelings of invisibility as a work-from-home employee. Most of your communication is in the form of email or chat rather than phone calls and in-person meetings.
Others raise a skeptical eyebrow at your office digs, wondering where your real career is. You know how to share the pros of your career choice, as well as your plans for the future, but you recognize the difficulty of climbing the proverbial ladder in a not so typical form of work.
Others can lower those eyebrows, because 50.9 percent of the workforce will be freelance by 2027. With that increase, employers need to look at how they address the issue of benefits and pay raises. Workers still need to provide for their families, and evidently, freelancing isn’t a dead end way of working. To advance yourself and your income in the now, you need to help close the gap. Elevate your professional self and get the raise you deserve as a skilled remote worker.
Don’t let your light go out
You feel invisible, but you aren’t invisible or irrelevant. You provide valuable skills and services to the company you’re working with, so it’s imperative that you turn in above-board work and do your best. Always strive to continuously learn, and get to know your talents intimately.
What compliments do your superiors give you? Did you receive standout ratings from clients on certain projects? Keep track of your successes, and reward yourself. Focus on putting that raw passion and talent into each of your assignments with your unique spin. Don’t let your light go out.
You’ve already established a track record for success. Now that you’re confident in your contributions, be proactive, and leverage that by asking for a raise to match your growth. It’s all in how you communicate.
Move beyond one-dimensional communication
You’re not one-dimensional, so select a different medium for posing your case. IM and email are for typical work practices and communications. While your message matters, you need to do this through a different medium.
You wouldn’t march into your supervisor’s office and start chatting them up for a raise. IM and email are similar in the remote world. It’s immediate, and messages may also be misread or misunderstood. Unfortunately, so can voicemail, and only one person is involved in that conversation — you.
People communicate on many levels through body language and tone of voice. Cultivate a different mode of communication to best engage your boss. When you can’t meet in person to talk about your growth in the company, two mediums give you the level of communication you need — phone and video conferencing.
How to Shine Over the Phone
When face-to-face with someone, you understandably feel nervous, and that affects your confidence level. You may forget your points. Flustered emotions overtake your ability to respond rationally to why you deserve this raise. In such a case, choose to communicate by phone, and arrange a time to speak with your supervisor.
When you use the phone, your supervisor will hear the warmth in your voice, so make sure to occasionally smile while speaking. Don’t rush — speak 20 percent more slowly than you would in person, which will also help you focus on word choices and clarity. Breathe deeply between sentences, which will help with your nervousness and lend time for pauses and questions. Sitting up straight will give you more confidence.
Outlining your points and responses to questions helps, but authenticity is key to your success in this conversation. Keep evidence of your progress within reach to reference, and speak freely, though clearly, concisely and with confidence.
How to shine over video
Video affords you the opportunity to use multiple forms of communication, including voice and body language. If you notice your supervisor mirroring your body posture, such as leaning in when you do, you’re building a rapport. Sit straight but comfortably, and try to have more of what you’ll say in mind than on paper. Don’t read from the page because you’re communicating with your boss, not paper. Much of this will come with comfort, confidence and practice, though it’s still perfectly acceptable to keep reference notes nearby.
Practice with yourself in front of the mirror, and schedule a time with a friend to practice over video conferencing to get comfortable with the medium as a professional form of communication. If you have a friend in a management position, that’s even better — they can offer you valuable input without coming across as condescending.
Always arrive early to test the video conferencing tools so that you won’t have any hiccups in the process. Remove unprofessional items from your setting, and close the blinds to eliminate glare. Wear neutral colors to avoid distractions over the screen. Sounds made near the microphone are audible, so remove the need to rustle papers. Speak directly in the microphone in a normal tone. If you notice an echo, you can always mute and unmute your microphone, but remain aware of your settings.
Some tips for face-to-face communication also apply to video conferencing, such as sitting up straight. Another good one for when you get nervous is to stare slightly behind or above the person. You look like you’re staring them in the eye, and you get a moment to collect yourself.
More tips and takeaways for your conversation
Conversation and connection matter in every workplace setting, even if you work thousands of miles away. Don’t let yourself feel invisible or limit your communications to one medium.
It’s okay if you don’t feel confident about asking for a raise right now. Start incorporating other tools into your communications, and ask for a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your goals and feedback. Ask if this meeting can be a monthly check-in for you, which shows your dedication to your job, the company and improvement. It’s a great primer for the ultimate conversation of requesting a raise.
If the company doesn’t have the budget for a raise, be open to alternative ideas and discussions. Your conversation with the supervisor may open the door to create bigger conversations at the top of the ladder. Be proactive. Share and celebrate your wins.
Think of your work-from-home career path like being a shining star. The universe is dark and vast, but stars glow brightly from deep in space. Their light reaches many eyes, and your boss definitely sees your value when you keep shining with confidence in your contributions. Now, go ask for what you deserve!
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