I was speaking with a friend of mine recently who presented me with a conundrum: He wanted to expand his career opportunities and take on new projects and challenges at his current job, but he didn’t know where to find them. He had a direct link to his supervisor, of course, but he didn’t have any visibility into the work being done beyond his department. With the rise in remote work and unaligned working schedules, he wasn’t having those chance run-ins with colleagues and water-cooler chats that sometimes lead to opportunities across functions—in different departments where perhaps he doesn’t have a ton of direct experience but where his skills would surely translate. And, just as important, where those colleagues could advocate for him, because they felt they knew him and his skills. “How do I unearth those opportunities and make myself available for them?” he wondered.
It got me thinking about how, in order to truly leverage the benefits of flexible work, companies need to be intentional about how they implement this flexibility. In addition to ensuring people have the resources they need to work both remotely and in office, we need to make sure they are being given opportunities to collaborate and network. Not only is this important from an innovation and productivity standpoint, but studies have shown that both new and experienced workers alike have a deep desire to foster professional relationships and mentorships—and that this is best done in person.
A hybrid model is likely our best bet for ensuring that our people are able to thrive: They have the flexibility they want, but they also have the face time they need.
What are some of your solutions for ensuring your people—and yourself—have opportunities for career advancement in this brave new world?