While working from home has brought many benefits, it has also brought some challenges. One of them is the problem of visibility. It’s easy to be present and be seen when you’re with your Executive in one office, but how about when you’re only connected digitally? How do you make your contributions known as a remote EA?
Sharing her knowledge on how you can properly navigate the digital space and stay visible to your Executive, Lauren Bradley is an award-winning assistant with over 15 years of experience under her belt. She’s also the founder of The Officials, a digital platform that provides courses and educational resources for learning and empowerment for executive assistants to help them grow and thrive professionally.
Her segment at the High Performing EA Summit entitled, “Visibility While Remote” discusses everything you need on how to be a remote executive assistant successfully.
Believe it or not, this is a common challenge that many executive assistants face right now. The need to be seen in a disconnected world is valid and is a real hurdle that can critically impact your career. For some EAs, they need to be visible in order to build a strong relationship with the executive. While others, it’s essential for reminding people of their value to the company.
Even though different people may have different reasons, there’s one thing that is the same for us all: financial security. Especially, for women.
Although 75% of the executive assistant industry is made up of women, the pay gap is still very prevalent. In fact, for every $1 that a white man earns, an Asian woman earns $.67 cents, a white woman earns $0.82 cents, a black woman earns $0.63 cents, a native American woman earns $0.60 cents, and a Latin/Hispanic woman earns $0.55 cents. On top of this, a woman’s earning power also decreases with age. Executive assistants over the age of 45 are likely to face a wider pay gap.
VISIBILITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WE MIGHT THINK
Studies show that your presence in the workplace can influence your Executive’s and the organization’s perception of you in relation to your performance. Individuals who actively pursue consistent face time are often seen as dependable and responsible, while those who are less seen can be perceived the opposite. What this tells us is this: it’s critical to always show up – personally and digitally.
And this is only talking about being seen. Even without your Executive having any information about your tasks and responsibilities, being digitally present can already lead people to regard you in a positive light.
Another thing to consider is that being accounted for doesn’t just benefit you in terms of credibility in the organization, this can pave the way for reaping financial rewards because companies tend to promote individuals who are consistently seen. Why? Always showing up communicates a critical message they want to hear: I am committed to my job and work is my first priority.
When you are visible consistently, your Executive will become more familiar with you. Over time, that familiarity can build trust. And if there’s one thing we know, they will only promote someone they trust.
That’s why showing up is more important than you might think, because the discussions will look a lot different when you are deemed trustworthy versus when you’re not. Visibility helps make negotiating your salary and evening out the pay gap become more possible.
YOU MAY NOT KNOW IT, BUT YOU HAVE MORE POWER TO CONTROL THIS
Here’s some good news: being consistently visible can be easy. The key is having the right strategy. So, here are three things Lauren Bradley says you can do to become a remote working EA who is top of mind, even when you’re out of sight.
Instead of waiting for your Executive to ping you if they need you, get ahead of the game by initiating your interactions. Whether it’s simply checking up on them or giving timeline reminders of some meetings, make sure that you always show up even when he/she doesn’t.
One good way to practice proactivity is through asynchronous 1 to 1s. This is one of the best avenues for you to truly let them know how valuable you have been to the organization and detail your successes. So, if your Executive isn’t scheduling your 1 to 1 meetings, then be proactive and request a time with them, or better, put something on their calendar. Then, come in with measurable contributions and metrics on your progress, improvements, and successes. If you’ve spotted some burning issues, lay them out with proposed solutions.
Having all these in writing can help you better demonstrate that you are actively contributing to the improvement of the team and organization.
You and your Executive are a team, and that means that you need to be in sync at all times. Communication is key to maintaining that rapport and making sure that they know you’re always there ready to support them. That includes being deliberate in reaching out to them even when they are difficult to get a hold of.
Depending on the situation, practice wisdom in using the right communication channels. If you can’t can’t contact your Executive via e-mail, Teams, or any of the usual means of communication channels you use. Then perhaps it’s time to pick up the phone and call their mobile number.
Visibility doesn’t just apply to you and your Executive, it should also overflow to the rest of the organization and external communities. Showing up for extracurriculars and networking within your company is a great way to communicate your value to other business leaders and colleagues.
Then, you can strengthen your social foundations further by getting in touch with other EA communities and participating in knowledge sharing through events and forums. Not only is that a great way to capture new industry information but also develop your leadership skills by mentoring others.
OPTIMIZE YOUR WORKFLOWS
Remember what we said earlier about providing measurable success metrics? This is where that comes in. It’s easier to communicate the value of all you’ve done if your Executive has already felt the impact of those contributions.
So, take the time to review your existing process and identify areas of improvement. Is there a manual process that can be automated? Are you using too many sheets in capturing information? Is your calendar management too tedious?
Research tools in the market that can help make your process more efficient and easy. Remember that you’re not just doing this for yourself, but to make it easier for your recipient to follow your process (aka your Executive). The right tech stack can make a difference in your execution as they can automate calendar scheduling, Executive to-do lists, and even budgeting.
Most importantly, consider reporting and project management features. This is a great opportunity to increase transparency and accountability between you and your executive, and provides them a means to actively track your current workload and allow them to see the work you’re (you’ve been) doing.
Thus, making your visibility measurable.