A lot of what marginalized people go through at work comes down to the workplace environment. If you’re being marginalized because of your race, gender, or disability, there’s nothing you can do to keep the cliquishness of that culture from creeping into your.
In the early months of 2020, a lot of that has changed. Many of us suddenly went from working in offices all the time and having to navigate the politics of being seen, being a Superstar, and making a show of ourselves and our work around others, to working at home, quietly, behind a screen, and only being seen by others for Zoom meetings Many companies have given up their office space because of the Pandemic. Some people have used this moment to rethink remote and hybrid work possibilities. The bright spot of this tragedy may be that there is some sympathy for the worker. Maybe a little more flexibility.
I loved my job at The New York Times, but it was hard to do it. Some of that was my shyness and difficulty advocating for myself, but some of it was the cliquish nature of a few of the teams I worked with. I liked the flexibility of being able to do my work from home, listen to music, and use a computer that was far more powerful and flexible than the laptop I had been issued at work. Many of my colleagues had to scramble to set up home office spaces where none existed before the Pandemic struck, and I had a more comfortable desk and chair and all the other personal touches that I had already put into my workspace at home.
If you are a marginalized person in the office, you feel like you need to be there to be seen, even if you are present. You don’t like being seen and going just to be seen. Those feelings come with a level of paranoia about what is going on behind your back when you aren’t there, the meetings that could be happening right now but you weren’t invited to, and the anxiety of wondering how you’re perceived when you aren’t there.
It’s possible to work remotely and alleviate this anxiety. It has its drawbacks, but there are ways to use remote work to your advantage as a marginalized worker. You have a chance to shine when the currency of being present and being the loudest person in the room is diminished by the fact that everyone is remote. If you are on a hybrid-style team, some people are in the office and others are not, that is the same thing. Even though hybrid-style teams can give rise to some misunderstandings and communication breakdowns, there are some moves you can make to protect yourself.
Melanie Pinola is a senior writer at Consumer Reports. She used to work at Wirecutter, a site owned by The New York Times. I was lucky enough to work with Pinola again eight years later when she started at Wirecutter and I was its liaison to the New York Times newsroom. She has been telecommuting for various employers for over a dozen years, including as a telecommuter for a small marketing agency for over a decade, as a writer for a fully remote tech company for three years, and finally at Wire.