The quiet cheers of introverts working from home thanks to the coronavirus are likely unheard. According to Meriam-Webster, an introvert is a “reserved or shy person who enjoys spending time alone.”
Like others who are fearful about friends and family getting the disease, we worry. But introverts like me are also enjoying the hours of privacy. While we may be enjoying being safe at home, we have the risk of becoming invisible at work as others continue to be engaged through online activities, and we just quietly work and watch the world change.
Some years ago, when I was working in an office, I was laid off at a time when I thought I had job security. In addition to teaching classes in English, I was the only Spanish-speaking trainer at my company. I had been sent to Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries to teach classes a half a dozen times during the prior year. I was the senior trainer in my department, but I never talked about my activities. In spite of my unique history, three months after the last Spanish training I was shown the door.
My colleagues liked to socialize. I was a head-down employee who worked on course development projects and did not socialize with my colleagues or manager. At the time of the layoff, someone who had been my peer was my manager. Being a former peer, she had relationships with the people in the department. It was much easier to lay off the quiet, minimally social person versus the highly social people with whom she was engaged.
Being alone may be the perfect time to complete projects and be productive. But other people need to know about your activities.
The more extreme your introversion, the more difficult it is to make yourself visible. Additionally, the more important it becomes to take the spotlight, especially during a work-at-home situation. But how do you do it?
1. Email your manager about your activities at least once a week. If you are working on one serious project or multiple small projects, email the boss and let her know the status.
If your manager isn’t scheduling a phone meeting for you, ask if it’s OK to do so. While phone meetings aren’t fun for introverts, they are a strong way of reaffirming your presence. Prepare an agenda and share it with your manager so that you both know what the topics will be.
2. Be aware of other projects and tasks that are underway. If any are behind and you have the skills and time to step in, email both the owner and your manager that you want to help.
3. Attend the team meetings. Even if you are inclined to be absent, show up. People notice if you aren’t present.
Although you may be working from home and enjoying it, keep in mind that it’s important to be noticed to be successful. Make an effort to reach out and make yourself visible.
Roxy works for Texas Workforce Commission as a Training Specialist. Pre-COVID-19, she traveled throughout Texas teaching staff The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST). Development activities include TWIST, WIT and SharePoint courses and online versions for TWIST.
You bring up very relevant and timely points that I don’t think get discussed enough as we all cope with workplace changes. The tips you shared are prime examples of little things making all the difference.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments Nicole!