During the pandemic many of us had a hybrid work arrangement and we discovered that we could be highly productive and it suited our lifestyle. Now we want to continue with a flexible hybrid work arrangement, but we first have to negotiate the deal with our manager. And, secondly, we want to make sure our careers in STEM don’t take a hit because of remote or distance bias.

Based on the latest research, that’s a legit concern because as the old adage goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” So how do you keep up your “office presence” and keep your career on track while working remotely? How can you ensure you are not overlooked? Below we’ve outlined 6 of the top strategies. (If you join Gotara, you can access even more strategies to help with this situation, or any other career issues or challenges you’re having. It’s free to join, and the exchange with us is entirely confidential.)

Here are a few tips to negotiate a hybrid work arrangement 

Be sure you understand your organization’s overall policies concerning in-house or remote work options. If there are clear guidelines about who can and cannot work from home, be aware of those and be willing to challenge outdated practices.

Prepare a proposal to discuss with your employer. Reflect on your performance during the past year and document how you met or exceeded expectations and delivered results in a remote environment. Your results are the proof you need to demonstrate why this arrangement can work for both parties. Then, develop a list of advantages and risks of working from home from your perspective, your manager’s perspective, and your organization’s perspective. For each risk, rate whether the risk is high, medium, or low, with high meaning the organization and your customers would feel the impact. Finally, for any high or medium risk, develop a mitigation plan you can put in place to prevent any possible missteps, and keep this in your back pocket if needed.

3. MAKE YOUR PITCH: Now it’s time to talk with your manager and explore the possibilities of a new work arrangement. If your manager is open, specifically ask for what you need and want. Emphasize your commitment to the organization, your team, and your role. Highlight the results you delivered during the past year. If there are any concerns raised, use your analysis in Step 2 to articulate how you can mitigate risks, or if needed, ask your manager for a few days while you work out a plan that could alleviate her concerns.

Here are a few tips to avoid distance bias associated with hybrid work in STEM 

Touching base with your direct manager and other leaders will be even more important. At Gotara our advisors recommend you set up a 30-minute weekly or bi-weekly video call (and insist on cameras being on) to update your manager on your progress and results delivered. We also encourage you to do this with other senior leaders and stakeholders to stay visible. Even a 15-minute check-in can make a difference. Just remember, you may need to do a little more self-promotion than you are used to, so you remain in the game.

 It may be necessary to talk with your manager about the potential remote bias and bring it up in a team setting with your peers (unless you already have an inclusive culture at work). Make people aware that bias does exist and that you all need to own and overcome the situation. Here is an example that will probably ring true for many. How many of you have sat in meetings before, where most members sit around a conference table in person while a few other teammates dial in on phone. Inevitably, at some point during a discussion, someone says, “Oh, Sarah, I forgot you were on the phone. Did you have anything to add?” This is bias, and you need to be proactive to prevent it.

Set up proactive ground rules for meetings and own them as a team. Consider rules such as “Always have a video call so in person or remote workers are on camera.” Or, “If there is a hybrid meeting, have everyone dial into a video call from their desk, so everyone is on the same playing field.” Also, opt to have one team member facilitate each meeting to ensure balanced participation across all team members. And, if you think you see some bias, call it out and ask the team to problem-solve around it. Remember, when you are in a meeting, virtually or in person, you must be mentally present! You should not multitask while remote. If you do not engage and tell others that they are trying to do other things, you automatically create this bias against yourself!