Woman speaking up at work

How to speak up and make your voice heard at work in a ‘hybrid’ world

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Worried about making your voice heard while hybrid working? Check out these tips from successful women and workplace experts to get started.

The world of work has changed a lot over the last 18 months, leaving many people feeling a lot less confident than they were before. 

Whether you were placed on furlough, were made redundant or found it hard to adapt to working from home, the pandemic has presented a number of big work-related challenges – so it’s no surprise they’ve taken their toll.

Combined with the fact that face-to-face opportunities are less frequent in a world where many companies are adopting a hybrid working model, finding the time and confidence to speak up and make your voice heard may seem even more daunting and impossible than it was before. 

Indeed, age-old gender-based stereotypes may still mean that qualities such as assertiveness and leadership are more likely to be associated with men – for example, recent ‘Breaking Bias’ research from Samsung’s UK gender equality platform Samsung Pioneers found that men are still four times more likely to have perceived leadership skills than women (23% vs 5%) – but that doesn’t mean women are any less capable at these crucial soft skills.

With all of this in mind, and to mark the day that many workers will be returning to the office as part of a new hybrid arrangement, we asked some successful women and workplace experts to give us their top tips for self-promotion in a hybrid world. From finding a mentor to asking questions, here’s what they had to say. 

Log your successes

A woman writing in her notebook
Keeping note of your successes will help you to promote yourself where necessary.

Being aware of the ways in which you’ve succeeded and/or contributed to your company’s main goals will help you to promote yourself more easily when you need to.

“Self-promotion needs to be practised, so practise,” explains Sharon Hegarty, marketing director at Samsung. “Draw up your cheat sheet and list your successes. I think it’s important that you promote what you are most proud of, so think of those solid deliverables and let people know what you have done.”

She continues: “Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities to showcase your work: at a team meeting, a virtual work huddle, weekly reports. Getting airtime is sometimes hard, especially when working remotely, so think about ways you can showcase yourself with your peers and bosses. This self-promotion starts with you. So, be your authentic self and be proud about it.” 

Be proactive

One of the most challenging parts of working from home or hybrid working is missing out on those day-to-day conversations you might have with your manager or colleagues. To remedy this, why not think about scheduling those conversations in?

“While it’s absolutely a business responsibility to put processes in place to ensure that your manager checks in regularly and is providing the guidance and support you need, you can also be proactive,” suggests Sonja Gittens-Ottley, head of diversity and inclusion at Asana.  

“Schedule quick check-in calls, so you are able to discuss your development progress and get feedback on your latest achievements. Be sure to actively prepare what you want to discuss prior to these calls, so you are ready to make the most out of that time and move your career in the direction you want it to go.” 

Say ‘yes’ to opportunities

Making the most of opportunities that allow you to showcase your talents and get in front of your colleagues and managers is crucial if you want to make your voice heard.

“It’s easy to shy away from volunteering for opportunities when in a hybrid working world, but it’s really important to keep your personal brand known and for leaders and colleagues to be aware of the work you are doing,” explains Emily Button-Lynham, a business and life coach and founder of Emily Button Creative, a company which supports women to explore self-employment.

“Consider saying yes to opportunities that put you in front of colleagues – this might be participating in a panel event or even just running a team meeting. It will be great experience for you and also work to build and share your personal brand.”

Nida Choudhary, senior strategic partnerships manager at Samsung, echoes this advice: “Don’t shy away from the small stuff – make sure you offer your ideas, put your hands up for opportunities and help welcome new joiners to the team. These small actions show you care – a strong message that speaks volumes across the virtual and physical workspace.” 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

A woman chatting with her colleagues
Being authentic and transparent is a great way to learn.

One of the biggest barriers many people face when speaking up and making their voices heard at work is not feeling like they know enough or don’t have all the knowledge on a subject matter. But just because you’re not ‘perfect’ or don’t have all the answers, doesn’t mean you should pretend you do or hide away from contributing altogether.

“Pretending you know more than you do holds you back from asking questions about what you need to learn,” Gittens-Ottley says. “Instead, be authentic and transparent with your teammates, admitting when something is unclear or that you need more support – chances are someone else is feeling the same way.”

She continues: “Not only does this provide you with greater peace of mind, but it also demonstrates your desire to learn and develop through the mentorship of that individual or wider team.” 

Hegarty also stresses the importance of asking questions and learning more about sections of the organisation outside of your day-to-day remit.

“Working remotely has meant it’s never been more crucial to understand the business you are currently working in, or hoping to work in,” she says. “Put a virtual coffee in with the finance team, or commercial teams, or whichever teams you don’t work that closely with – don’t stay in your swim lane, be curious! I have a real thirst and passion for knowledge so my advice is to always ask the question and don’t be afraid to try things and fail – just learn from it.” 

Seek out a mentor

Last, but by no means least, if you’re struggling to find the confidence you need to speak up, seeking out a mentor who has already been in your position is a great way to give yourself a boost.

“[At the beginning of my career] I began to doubt how far I could go, but as soon as I met a powerful and successful female who looked like me, the penny dropped, and I realised the glass ceiling that I had in my mind didn’t exist,” Choudhary says.

“Before this, I wasn’t consciously aware of the fact that I didn’t fully see myself represented in any of the people I considered mentors or inspirational, but when I finally did meet someone who could truly represent my future career, a fire ignited within me. This inspired me to work harder and faster, and always put my best foot forward.” 

If adapting to the new world of work is taking its toll on your mental health, you’re not alone. From the isolation of being separated from colleagues while working from home and the stress of relying on technology to struggles with concentration, confidence and setting boundaries, there are a number of reasons why you might find this time particularly challenging.

So, what can we do about it? We’ve got a plan.

Stylist’s Work It Out campaign, supported by Mind, aims to give you the tools and resources you need to take care of your mental health at work. From completing your Work 5 A Day to dealing with issues including anxiety, loneliness and stress, we’ll be exploring all aspects of work-related wellbeing, whether you’re working from home, adopting a hybrid arrangement or planning on going back to the office full-time.

For more information, including how to complete your Work 5 A Day, you can check out our guide to getting started.

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.