2 min read

Yes, you can advance your career away from the office

There’s a common leadership notion that you must be in the office to grow. That’s untrue.
Yes, you can advance your career away from the office
Photo by Robert Koorenny / Unsplash

Sustain issue #76 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

“You can’t grow in your career away from the office.”

I’ve seen and heard some version of this idea from countless senior executives in recent months. It’s sad but not shocking.

They say, especially as a junior employee, you need to be able to rub shoulders with those more senior. You need to be able to have impromptu water cooler conversations. You need to be sitting there so you can get pulled into a meeting.

But that’s just not how it works.

Most executives don’t sit near their junior employees. And if they do, they walk right by them to their desk or office.

Most executives don't say any more than hi to junior employees at the water cooler.

Most executives don't pull their junior employees into a meeting to get their ideas on a hot topic.

That’s not how business works. Maybe it should be. But it’s not.

So then why are we being told we need to be in the office to grow? Why has the need for “face time” as a primary reason to go into the office jumped from 2% to 10% in recent months?

It’s an issue of lazy, unintentional, and inequitable management.  

Lazy because it reverts back to a leadership model of the way it’s always been done. If this is the stance, have there really been little to no learnings from the largest remote experiment of the last few years?

>> The future of work takes into account what we’ve learned.

Unintentional because a system hasn’t been designed for junior employees to connect with those more senior and to learn in a more structured way. For example, I’ve grown an incredible amount in the last two years by being a fly on the wall in meetings a level or two above me and by watching my superiors edit live in a Google Doc to understand their thought process. I’ve also enjoyed monthly calls with a skip level and scheduled lunches in the past with executives.

>> The future of work is intentionally designed.

Inequitable because the term “face time” by definition is just that. Just because you’re sitting there in the office doesn’t mean you’re actually producing high-quality work.

>> The future of work rewards outcomes over hours.  

💡
Oyster HR for example has written an employee guide for how they work as a distributed and remote workforce. This was intentionally created and programmed into their culture to ensure equitable outcomes for all employees. It’s possible to do. It just needs to be designed. 

If you hire adults but manage them as a preschooler, you’re going to leave massive amounts of employee engagement and productivity on the table.


Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to eliminate burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) and suffered deep burnout and came back from it even though I never found a playbook for doing so. So, I'm writing it myself.

✉️ Want my top tips? I share my full step-by-step playbook in How I Quit Burnout, my premium newsletter. Get the next one delivered straight to your inbox >

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