Despite what some managers and CEOs might want, remote work appears to be sticking around for the foreseeable future. That means, among other things, some women might now find themselves struggling to stand out and make contributions in meetings when they’re not in the room — an even trickier task than when everyone was in the same physical space.
While we’d like the old stereotypes to be on the way out, unfortunately, sometimes women do have a hard time being heard, making their points, and getting the same respect and attention when speaking as their male colleagues. Add in the distance and separation that comes from remote working and it’s even more challenging.
But don’t despair. We have some tips for how to maintain your presence in a work meeting even if you’re working from your home office:
Be prepared before the meeting begins.
Take a few minutes to think about what you’ll need and want to say during the meeting. Have some notes handy, maybe even have a few websites or other examples just a click away, so you can quickly address your points in an effective, direct and concise manner. Write down a few questions, if applicable, so you can make sure your concerns are addressed in real time, instead of waiting until after the meeting to ask them on the side.
Turn the camera on.
Most of us would rather not show the world what our home working space looks like. If there are children or particularly rambunctious pets around, it’s an easy distraction for everyone and it puts the wrong kind of attention on you. We get it! However, it’s important for your face to be seen in remote meetings. It’s a reminder that you’re there, contributing, present in the meeting and with your own ideas to offer. When you speak, yours will become the dominant presence on the meeting screen. Being able to see you speak and interact with people will be more impactful than just a still image of your personnel photo or a generic avatar.
Be ready to speak up and do it often.
Maybe you don’t like to rock the boat or ask too many questions. Maybe you prefer to take notes and ask for clarification later. Remote working allows for that, but it also allows for meetings to move at a faster pace, so you might lose your train of thought or have your topic get trampled in the cross-talk. Most remote meeting and video call platforms have a “raise your hand” option, or some other way to indicate you have a question or want to contribute. Use that option liberally! You can use it to compliment someone’s idea or presentation too, just like you would during an in-person meeting. These tools are available for a reason and you should become comfortable using them.
Use the flexibility to your advantage.
Now that you’re working remote, whether it’s all the time or occasionally, you have time back in your life to use for other things as you’re not commuting. Could you use that time to pick up some new skills through a virtual class or online lessons? Or maybe there are some tools you have access to but you’ve never learned to use? Now’s the time to look up a tutorial. It’s also a good opportunity to invest a little more time into presentations, carefully laying out materials and maybe adding in a few more graphic elements to help draw attention to your more important points. It might only be a few minutes here or there, if you’re lucky enough to live close to where you work, but investing those few moments into yourself, your education, your preparation, and your presentations, all of it can pay off and make your efforts even more impressive.
Depending on the kind of communication programs your company uses, there’s almost always some kind of tool for a quick chat. Email’s fine, but whatever meeting platform your company has adopted also has a messaging service. Use it! It’s a great way to share ideas quickly, to brainstorm solutions when you run into a problem and it’s the 21st century, mid-pandemic way to gather ‘round the water cooler and chat about the latest gossip and see how everyone’s kids and families are doing. Be an active participant in the chat functions and you’ll remind people you’re around, even if you’re not physically present. Plus, if the switch to remote work has been difficult for you to adjust to, this can help bridge that gap a little by offering up an outlet for the kind of office chit-chat you might be missing.
In short, the best way to stand out as a woman in a remote work environment is to keep talking. Be prepared, be focused, be engaged, and make sure no one has a chance to forget about you. Your contributions are important and so is your voice!
If you’re feeling pushed aside and ignored in this environment, maybe you’d rather find a different position instead. Luckily, Debbie’s Staffing can help! Take a look at our job board and see which positions we’re currently looking to fill, or give us a call today so we can help you start your search.