Husnara Begum Head & Shoulders Image

Husnara Begum, owner & careers consultant

During the various Covid19 lockdowns the risk of diluting our personal brands because of remote working was minimal. We were all in the same situation. But that cannot be said for today with most major law firms planning to operate hybrid working models for the foreseeable future.

For those of you planning to continue working from home (WFH) some or most of the time it’s important to ensure that time away from the office doesn’t result in colleagues labelling you as being work shy or lacking in ambition. This is especially important for trainee solicitors and junior associates who are still working on building their brands in an industry where many of us still feel the best way to get noticed is to be the first to arrive in the office and the last to leave.

Below I’ve set out my top three tips for how to remain visible at work when the rest of your team is in the office and you’re WFH.

Tip One: Make yourself digitally visible

Ever since the dawn of Zoom / Team meetings I’ve always had my camera switched on, even when others opted not to. I’ve also tried to look the part and invested in an appropriate WFH wardrobe with business casual outfits. This has continuously enabled me to create positive first and indeed lasting impressions that scream I’m ready to take on whatever challenge clients send my way. Though there’s nothing wrong with hoodies, I wonder whether they’d be perceived in the same manner by colleagues and clients alike?

And whilst on the topic of virtual meetings, remember the importance of speaking up and where appropriate making suggestions and/or volunteering your time.

Tip Two: Be dependable and stay connected

Successful trainees and junior lawyers are typically more reliable and trustworthy than those who are viewed as mediocre. That means they are less likely to go AWOL when working remotely. And whether they are in the office or working from home they are responsive, finish their work on time and to an excellent standard. And if or when they have spare capacity will seek out more work.

Indeed, a dependable and supportive colleague that goes that extra mile is hardly likely to be labelled as work shy. But try not to overcompensate. When I first started working from home in the mid-2000s so big was the fear of my colleagues thinking I was at home watching daytime TV resulted in my perfectionist tendencies hurtling into overdrive. Consequently, I took on way too many tasks and worked extremely long hours, putting myself at a high risk of burnout.

Tip Three: Adopt a more targeted approach to networking

Cultivating an internal network is key to career progression for trainees and junior lawyers. But building relationships isn’t limited to conversations by the coffee machine. Working remotely therefore needn’t be a hindrance. My suggestion is to adopt a more targeted approach that focusses on forming the closest ties with individuals who can play the role of future mentors and / or sponsors. As such, create a plan on how to get closer to such individuals such as setting up a coffee for when you are both next in the office. Also, volunteering to get involved in BD activities, such as preparing a pitch document is a great way to get exposure to the most influential partners in your team.