How to Overcome the “Zoom Ceiling” and Get Promoted as a Remote Worker

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Everyone is talking about hybrid work. Having the flexibility to work remotely seemed like a workers’ dream. No more commuting. No more office politics. No more managers breathing down your neck. Studies, such as this one from Stanford, sweetened the deal by noting remote workers showed an increase in productivity by 13 percent.

There’s just one problem, though; the so-called “Zoom ceiling.” According to data from the Office for National Statistics, which tracks remote workers in the UK, remote workers are doing double the overtime but being passed over for promotions.

How can hybrid teams get noticed for their work if they’re not physically in an office with the people who can promote them?

What’s the Zoom Ceiling?

Zoom is, of course, a video conferencing tool that fosters meetings, chat, phone calls and more. It has grown in popularity with the growth of remote work and hybrid teams, particularly in the wake of 2020.

As more people worked remotely, the term “Zoom ceiling” started to be used to describe a bias favoring workers in the office as opposed to those who worked from home when it came time for promotions or compensation.

Not being in the office impacts a hybrid worker from building relationships with their managers and demonstrating the skills that would make them viable candidates for promotion. Managers who aren’t getting facetime with their hybrid workers could let the best candidates fall through the cracks, because they mistakenly feel they’re not as productive as others in the office.

Remote workers can’t be in the same room, but work management software can create a more collaborative environment than Zoom. ProjectManager is cloud-based work management software that connects hybrid teams with multiple project views that have real-time chat and file sharing. Email and in-app notifications keep everyone updated on new comments and updates. It’s the closest you get to work together no matter where you are.

List view in ProjectManager
ProjectManager connects hybrid teams with real-time chat and file sharing. Learn More!

Why Proving Your Productivity Is Hard

“Out of sight, out of mind” might be a cliche, but like all cliches, it grew from a kernel of truth. And the truth is that there is less visibility for hybrid teams. There’s a big difference between having a manager walk past your workstation and seeing you stay active and deliver tasks on time.

You’d think that getting your work done would be enough, but there’s a psychological element that will impact most managers. If they don’t see you working, you’re not rewarded for working. Even as you meet deadlines and deliver quality work, managers are more likely to see the larger picture and simply neglect the fact that it was you who got those tasks completed on time.

Even if you have regular meetings with your manager, they’re only seeing you on a computer screen. As effective as collaboration software has proven in facilitating communication between people, they’re not perfect. Conversations are more than words, there’s body language and other senses at play, including the environment. All of which resonates more than video conferencing.

How Hybrid Workers Can Get Promoted

The trend to employ hybrid teams isn’t going to change. Managers love that they can expand their recruitment beyond what in the past was restricted to a communicable radius of the office. Workers have tasted the fully remote or hybrid work environment and find it a pathway towards a favorable work-life balance. Then, how can hybrid teams get those promotions they deserve?

There are several things hybrid teams can do to land that promotion. One is don’t assume. Often hybrid team members can be their own worst enemy by limiting themselves. They think they understand a situation without making inquiries. That means that hybrid teams need to stay in touch with their managers to learn about where the company is and what it wants. But also to discuss your career goals. It’s an ongoing conversation that should start now.

If possible, you could work a truly hybrid schedule. That is, split your time between home and the office. This creates a best-of-both-world scenario where you can strategically set your office hours for times when your manager is there or important meetings are taking place. Of course, this option is not available for everyone. Some hybrid team members might work at night or be located in a different time zone, and going to the office except for the occasional visit is not feasible.

How Managers Can Help Hybrid Teams

Just because hybrid teams are distributed across different time zones or work different shifts, that doesn’t mean managers aren’t responsible for treating them the same as in-office teams. It’s the manager’s job to define the hybrid work, whether that’s partially in the office or fully at home. That means setting up meetings between managers and team members to make sure everyone is communicating and working together.

Meetings for departments or teams are important, but hybrid team members also need regular one-on-one meetings. These allow managers to see if anything is blocking the team member and give remote team members a chance to provide feedback on what happened prior to the meeting and what issues they might have going forward. It’s a great way to build relationships and overcome the hurdles that remote work can create.

Managers can standardize performance reviews to level the playing field when evaluating hybrid and office workers. But they should also invest in supplying everyone on their team with collaboration tools that connect them, no matter where they work, how they work or their skill level.

How Software Bridges the Gap Between Work and Home

As hybrid work becomes more commonplace, companies have developed tools to seamlessly connect teams and dismantle the Zoom ceiling. There are now tools that can both increase productivity and provide features that inform managers on how productive their remote teams are working. Using software like this can help hybrid teams avoid being passed over for promotion while boosting efficiency.

Workload management can be hard when you’re not in the office. Managers might have a certain idea of what needs to get done when, while remote team members are managing their own backlog without any direction. This, naturally, is going to cause problems and not bring about the sort of attention that will put you next in line for promotion. You can solve those problems by:

  • Prioritizing tasks is one part of managing that workload, but another is having transparency into how many tasks are assigned to your team, no matter whether they’re in the office, on-site or at home. This not only helps managers know who is doing the heavy lifting but also keeps individual team members from being saddled with the majority of the work while others are idle. That’s good for productivity and morale.
  • Visibility is key for hybrid teams. They have to feel they are being seen and managers will want to have a way to monitor their progress and performance. Work management tools have many ways of doing this. Some tools act as spyware, but those only alienate your team and will have them looking for other employment rather than promotions.
  • Instead, you want a feature that can keep tabs on their work results, not their minute-by-minute activity. Dashboards are ideal for this sort of thing. They calculate the status updates of your team and display results on time, cost, workload and much more. Managers can track productivity and hybrid teams get the recognition they deserve.
  • Another tool that provides visibility for hybrid teams is the kanban board. A visual workflow tool that is made up of columns and cards that represent tasks. The cards have instructions and can be assigned to team members, who can work together in planning their sprints while managers get an overview of the production. This allows managers to catch bottlenecks and reallocate resources to keep production moving forward without interruption.

How ProjectManager Breaks Through the Zoom Ceiling

Is there one work management tool that can do all that? Yes. ProjectManager is a cloud-based software that helps hybrid teams work together in real time. The tool is designed with multiple project views to allow everyone on the team to work how they want and it’s collaborative to the core, connecting teams to work better together.

Create Plans on Gantt Charts

No matter how you work, when you work or even if you’re in different departments, our software connects you in real time so everyone is always on the same page. Managers can plan ahead with Gantt charts that can assign tasks, set priorities, even filter for the critical path. Then they can set the baseline to track actual productivity against their plan.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

Monitor on Dashboards

Managers also can monitor their team’s productivity with real-time dashboards. Unlike other tools, there’s no setup necessary, you can monitor time, costs, variance and more right away. Live data is automatically collected, the data crunched and the results displayed on colorful graphs. You can monitor progress and performance at a glance.

ProjectManager's live dashboard

Create Robust Tasks

Team members can use robust task lists that track the percent complete or, if they work in an agile methodology, kanban boards help them manage their backlog and plan sprints together. Team members can comment at the task level and attach files or images to foster collaboration. Email notifications and in-app notifications keep everyone on the same page. Data is shared instantly across all project views so there’s one source of truth.

ProjectManager's kanban board

ProjectManager helps hybrid teams manage their tasks better and give managers the transparency they need to track their progress in real time. Resource management features help managers track their hybrid teams with the same accuracy that they monitor those who are working in the office. Color-coded workload charts balance workload and keep teams working more productively and morale up. Secure timesheets help managers track the time their team is spending on tasks.

ProjectManager is award-winning software that delivers collaborative tools to hybrid teams that help them work more productively while giving managers visibility and tracking capabilities. Get the tools you need to promote the most productive members of your team and manage work and projects more efficiently. Get started with ProjectManager today for free!

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