5 Steps to Landing a Promotion When You Work Remotely

May 25, 2017
Archived, Productivity

Some employees that work remotely worry about their boss forgetting them when they’re not in the office. When it’s time for advancement, they want to stand out — even if they’re not physically standing in front of them. The advice in this article can help you become a solid promotion option even when the career ladder is miles away.

The research company Gallup found that 37% of Americans worked from home in 2015. A striking increase from 1995, when only 9% teleworked. Even the ability to work from home for one or two days a week is perceived as a strong job perk that can recruit top talent from the competition.

So if you’re trying to apply to a job with a remote component, you’re not just competing with everyone in your area for a promotion, you’re competing with the whole world.

While you may be working smarter when not distracted by co-workers or frustrated from the commute, it can be challenging to demonstrate your hard work if your boss isn’t standing over you. Short of midnight emails and 6 a.m. conference calls, it’s hard to find ways to stand out when you’re reporting remotely.

To prove how hard you’re working even when you’re not in the office, follow these five steps and you’ll have your boss’ attention in no time — and for all the right reasons:

1.   Take 15 Minutes a Day to Help Someone

Even if you’re busy, set aside 15-20 minutes to help people when they’re struggling with a project or have a question. Get to know what they do at the company and what their pain points are by using a remote access tool like TeamViewer to work collaboratively over video, share screens, transfer files and work on the same file simultaneously. And when you need help down the line, you will know the right person to ask and how they can assist you.

This type of networking is just as easy when you’re working remotely as when you’re in the office. No one notices employees that sit hidden in their cubicles all day, no matter how hard they work. Instead of jumping into meetings or stopping by desks, make yourself heard during conference calls and offer solutions. If possible, reach out directly to different team members asking if they need help with a project that’s related to your position.

The key is to become the first name anyone thinks of when they need something. You might not be able to solve their problems, but you can point to the person who can. When the time comes to fill a senior position or choose a team lead on a project, your name will already be top-of-mind.

2.   Set Up 10 Minute Standing Meetings to Get Everyone Aligned

Despite the global nature of your team, they still want to collaborate and form traditional office bonds. In fact, 55% of remote employees say they want to maintain opportunities for collaboration and networking, even when they’re not in the office. Meanwhile, 32% of remote employees say they feel cut off from company information and team activities.

If you’re not doing them already, implement daily 10-minute scrums with the team, or just you and your boss, to go over what the day looks like and address any challenges. Depending on the day and season, these calls or video chats can cover a variety of topics:

  • Project updates and roadblocks
  • Questions, concerns, and tools needed
  • Company news and objectives
  • Office changes and personal updates

This keeps the line of communication going, while letting remote team members talk about the company in the same way they would in a conference room. You can use these meetings to propose collaboration opportunities or brainstorm solutions together.

3.   Sharpen Your Business Skills in 60 Minutes

A recent study by Global Workplace Analytics found that two-thirds of employees would change jobs for an easier commute to work, and almost half feel like their commute is getting worse. If you’re one of the lucky ones who works remotely, what are you doing while everyone else is sitting in traffic or waiting for the train? Spend that extra hour:

  • Taking professional development courses
  • Networking on LinkedIn or at area events
  • Becoming involved in industry groups

Use what was your commute time to benefit your long-term success and you’ll land that promotion in no time.

4.   Schedule 30 Minutes to Propose New Opportunities to Your Boss

It’s okay if you work for a company that doesn’t have leadership training or an advancement strategy — it’s actually more common than you think. More than 40% of organizations say having leadership goals is important for business success, but only 8% of companies actually define them. Furthermore, 51% of organizations say their leaders are only somewhat ready to run their departments today.

To instill confidence in your boss that you’re ready, schedule a 30-minute video meeting each quarter using a solution like TeamViewer to go over potential projects:

  • Brainstorm new opportunities to expand that company’s business, marketing, or production chains.
  • Select two to four that you think are plausible, and make them your projects for the next few months.
  • Identify ways to collaborate with other team members to make these projects happen.

When you use TeamViewer, you can create a dynamic presentation using animations, videos and more without worrying about a high-frame rate connection. And you can share your screen and use an interactive whiteboard for next-level collaboration. This creates two opportunities for a promotion: you’re taking on additional responsibilities beyond your original job description, and you’re taking on a leadership role. When it’s time to ask for a raise, you will have a list of projects under your belt that you lead to completion.

This creates two opportunities for a promotion: you’re taking on additional responsibilities beyond your original job description, and you’re taking on a leadership role. When it’s time to ask for a raise, you will have a list of projects under your belt that you lead to completion.

5.   Spend 5 Minutes Reflecting on Your Behavior

Before you clock out for the day, take a second to think about how you communicated with your peers and make sure you’re treating them with the utmost respect.

There’s a fine line between taking initiative as the go-to and becoming a power-monger or rogue cowboy that oversteps his or her bounds.

If you want to make sure you aren’t stepping on toes, take these four steps:

  1. Proposing a new project is always a good idea, but if it’s out of your department, take a back seat and become the support staff. You don’t have to be the leader for everything.
  2. Talk to your boss or invite them to calls where major changes or decisions will be made. No manager wants to feel ten steps behind their employees.
  3. Review any sensitive conversations with your manager beforehand. If you have a proposition for the VP, your manager could think you’re going over his or her head if you don’t run it by them first.
  4. Take feedback and understand when you’ve hit a dead end. Not all projects will be grand successes. If something can’t be implemented until next year, back down and head back to the drawing board.


  • Be willing to assist co-workers with their responsibilities—they may be willing to help you later.
  • Be proactive by setting up short sessions with your manager regularly.
  • Invest in professional development activities to boost your resume.
  • By showing your investment in the company and yourself, you’re taking the necessary steps to go from remote employee to remote boss.

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