Building a Remote Career: Tips for Professionals Working From Home

According to research conducted by Buffer in 2023, struggles with remote work include issues with career growth, such as getting recognized by leadership (37% of respondents), collaborating (30%), and getting promoted (28%). How to overcome these limitations of a remote workplace? In this article, consider the vision and advice on how to become a recognized professional despite working from home from Julia Bataltseva, the CMO at EasyStaff — an IT solution developer for freelance management worldwide.

Define your goals

It is generally advised by career coaches and consultants to refer to SMART when setting goals. It is a method used in setting and defining goals and aims. It is widely used in marketing, project management and other business areas. The acronym stands for 5 major principles:

  • Specificis for a particular goal. It is crucial to understand what exactly needs to be achieved.
  • Measurablemeans that both the result and the process are measurable.
  • Achievablemeans that a goal is realistic.
  • Relevantmeans that desirable goals are in line with the overall context and strategy.
  • Time-bound means there is a deadline to when a goal should be achieved.

SMART is an effective planning tool because it helps set specific, measurable and informed time frames.

However, there are limitations to SMART.
  • It is not suitable for long-term goals.
  • It requires specific indicators and figures.
  • It nearly excludes creativity.

This is why I recommend using the GROW framework for career goals. This popular tool was developed by the consultancy agency McKinsey.

GROW is an acronym made up of 4 stages:

G (Goal) is for goal setting. You need to define what you want to achieve and why. The time frame is one, two and five years. Define the conditions in which the goal is considered achieved. When formulating these requirements, you may want to guide yourself with the following questions:
  • What do I want?
  • What result will be the best for me?
  • How will I know this is the result I was going for?
  • What will happen once I achieve the goal?
  • What will people around me say?

R (Reality) means that you need to properly and fully assess your current context. Ask yourself these questions:
  • What is happening to me now?
  • On a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is ‘perfect', how would I describe my situation now?
  • Where would I like to be?
  • How do I feel now?
  • Who else is involved in the situation?
  • What have I already done or am doing to solve the problem?
  • What resources do I have?

O (Obstacles) is a step where you define obstacles, restrictions and limitations. Define the problems that are in your way to your goal now. For that, answer these questions:
  • What is it I am doing that hinders my progress towards my goal?
  • What worries/frustrates me the most in the current situation?
  • What inner resistance is caused in response to my actions?
  • What resources do I lack?
  • What are major risks?

O (Options) means reviewing your opportunities. Once obstacles are defined, figure out how to overcome them. Guide yourself with the following questions:
  • What can be done to change the situation?
  • What alternatives are there?
  • What would I do if all the necessary resources were available?
  • Who could help me?
  • Where could I find information?
  • What would I advise to a person in my position?
  • What options do I like best?

W (Will/Way forward) is a step where you define your intentions and action plans. After current limitations and options have been assessed, you should be able to have a full picture of how to achieve your goals. Create an action plan that will take you to your desired destination in future. Orient yourself with these questions:
  • What do I plan to do?
  • How am I going to do it?
  • What is my first step and when am I going to make it?
  • Do I need to take something into account before I take steps?
  • What are possible obstacles on my way?
  • What support do I need?
  • How do I evaluate the success rate on a scale from 1 to 10?

Using GROW in career goal setting helps you approach your career development in a more informed and aware way.

Capture your goal with web tools

To stay on track, you may want to use tools for planning and ideation record.

Apps to create to-do lists:

  • Todoist: create task lists, set deadlines and keep track of progress.
  • Microsoft To Do: an easy-to-use tool that is compatible with other Microsoft services, such as Outlook.
  • Google Keep: create notes, task lists and goals; also supports voice notes.
  • Any.do: manages tasks and goals; synchronizes with calendars.
  • MindMeister: creates a smart map (a visual tool for goal planning and problem solving) which helps structure ideas and goals.

Career development apps:

  • Asana: helps with managing projects. It may be used for setting and keeping track of career goals.
  • GoalMap: provides users with insightful materials to build their career trajectory.

Habit trackers:

  • HabitBull: the app is developed specifically for forming and tracking habits. The app helps stick to habits during specific seasons.
  • Strides: helps keep track of habits with graphics and diagrams.
Coach.me: it is made for habit development. Among categories, you may choose ‘Career and Success' to find your way to career goals.

Find a Mentor

If you are an employee, then your manager or a more experienced colleague are appropriate candidates for your mentors. If you are a freelancer, you may use special instruments.

Mentor communities

  • Getmentor is an open community of IT mentors.
  • Mentoring club is an open community whose goal is to support people that want to continue their education.

Platforms to find mentors

  • United Mentors: a tool to search for mentors for entrepreneurs.
  • Solvery.io: learning IT-skils one-to-one with mentors.
  • ADPList: searching for mentors of any level.

I also recommend looking for mentors on social media, especially Linkedin, or in online business schools.

Participate in professional communities on social media

Staying in touch with your colleagues can help you grow your network, stay in the know about the latest trends in the industry and get valuable advice. Before you join a professional community, refresh your Linkedin account by adding your latest achievements, highlighting your projects and skills. This will help draw your colleagues' and prospect employers' attention.

Meet deadlines

Many managers assume that remote workers are less efficient. According to a 2020 survey by Gartner, 76% of employees who worked from home faced doubts regarding their productivity despite successful task completion and goal achievement. So you need to meet deadlines to both achieve career growth and receive recommendations from your colleagues. You need to perform like an independent professional who can manage tasks on their own without a superior’s control.

Forget modesty

If you are too modest to share how your progress is coming along, you may as well forget about career goals for the next several years. Alternatively, you can forget excessive modesty and share your achievements with managers at least once a week.

You can summarize your weekly progress including tasks completed and highlighting progress in key directions. It is also your chance to pay your manager’s attention to areas where there are issues. You want to pay special attention to changes in projects that you would like to initiate and what result they will have on business processes and KPIs because such initiatives can highlight your input in the company’s success and revenue.

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