How to ensure career progression whilst working from home

Career MAIN blog
Posted: Oct 2020

With restrictions now being tightened again, it looks like the brief window of employees being encouraged back to the office is over, and the majority of us will be continuing to work mostly from home for the foreseeable future. How, therefore, can we ensure we still continue to learn and forward our careers?

Career stagnation

So far, 2020 may have been a year where your learning has levelled off and you have started to stagnate as you have been sitting at home for the lion share of it – you have worked really hard but not actually moved forward in your career as no one has really been there to see it.

When is the last time you had a training workshop? Or your boss reminded you of what you need to do in order to get promoted? From what we can tell, training has been put on the backburner by many agencies as they have moved in survival mode.

From our conversations, we think that many corporate agencies lost 20% - 30% of revenue at the start of the pandemic and, although winning projects once again, profit margins have been hit. We are coming to the end of the year when pay rises, promotions and bonuses are all under consideration. However, bonuses are likely to be off the table, promotions may be stalled and pay rises are unlikely for some agencies.

So where does this leave the ambitious comms professional, still looking to work their way up the ladder? How do you ‘learn on the job’ whilst sitting at home? How do you get promoted when not enough people really know what you have achieved?

The benefits of moving job

You may feel that, at this time, staying put and ‘just getting your head down’ is the best solution to ride the COVID storm, but are you actually doing your career a disservice? We calculate that moving jobs on average gets you a 12% uplift in your base salary, as well as a chance of changing to a more senior position – so why not consider a move?

There are agencies who were thriving prior to the pandemic, have sailed through it, and have continued to hire. You need to manage your career and continue to flourish, and this is far better in a place which is growing - a place winning chunky business despite the market.

Staying put isn’t necessarily ‘safe’ as you may be walking a career treadmill, whereas moving to an agency which didn’t reduce salaries and will consider promotions can offer you a more positive growth environment.

According to our Annual Salary Guide, the number one reason corporate comms professionals leave their jobs is lack of career progression. In a more ‘normal’ environment you probably wouldn’t think twice about looking for a new job, but why should it be any different in a pandemic? Despite everyone working remotely, it is still business as usual.

Gaining positive exposure from home

Whether you are considering a new role, or you feel that your current agency can still offer you the best career progression, getting back to the office is important for learning, motivation, laughter and ideas. But, if that’s not an option right now, there is still plenty you can do to get positive exposure and help yourself whilst working from home:

* Write a weekly update on all the good stuff you have achieved each week, which you send to your boss and all relevant parties

* Offer to give some training – you will probably learn something just by preparing for this session. What other virtual initiatives can you come up with to ensure you add value?

* Look into on-line courses, there are some great value ones which have popped up this year

* Contact with the right senior people who will decide on your next promotion is still important – arguably even more so at present. In the absence of natural ‘in office’ exposure, volunteer yourself or seek out opportunities to work with them

* Create time to nurture your connections, both internally and externally; you might not be able to meet people face to face at present, but creating, growing and maintaining connections is still very important, and will make the transition back into the office – when it happens – much smoother

* Don’t be afraid to still have career progression conversations with your boss; Even though everything’s a bit different right now, they should still be supporting your professional growth

Final words

Ultimately, don’t settle into frustration or stagnation – expect more of yourself. Whether you are loving the benefits of working from home, or finding not being in the office environment challenging, the most important thing is to make sure you don’t put your career progression on hold, and are with an agency which is moving forwards not backwards.

If you are considering a move, although there aren’t lots of corporate agencies hiring, there are some, and surely, if they are hiring in this market, they must be doing something right?

The Works Search a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email

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