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Returners A-Z: Navigating the Challenges of Developing a Career Whilst Working Flexibly

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

The modern work landscape is undergoing a profound transformation, driven by technological advancements and shifting priorities. One of the most significant changes is the rise of part-time, remote, and flexible work arrangements. While these arrangements offer undeniable benefits, they also bring forth a unique set of challenges for professionals aiming to build a successful career.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the hurdles individuals face when pursuing career growth while working part-time, remotely, and flexibly, including the challenge of learning by osmosis, and provide practical strategies to overcome them.

Challenge 1: Limited Visibility

One of the foremost challenges of working part-time, remotely, or flexibly is the potential for reduced visibility within your organisation. Absence from the physical office can lead to being “out of sight, out of mind,” which may hinder your chances of advancement.


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1. **Pro-active Communication:** Regularly communicate your accomplishments and progress to your supervisor and team. Leverage virtual meetings and messaging platforms to stay connected. In other words, make sure people know when you’ve completed a project, made a sale, hit a deadline. Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet.

2. **Scheduled Check-ins:** Arrange periodic check-ins with your manager to discuss goals, challenges, and career aspirations. This shows your commitment to your career.

3. **Network Virtually:** Engage in virtual team-building activities, attend online workshops, and take part in webinars to maintain relationships and expand your professional network.

Challenge 2: Work-Life Balance

Remote and flexible work often blur the boundaries between professional and personal life. This can lead to burnout and hinder your ability to focus on career development.


1. **Establish Boundaries:** Set clear boundaries between work and personal time. Create a dedicated workspace and adhere to regular working hours.

2. **Time Management:** Use time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique or Time Blocking (my favourite) to increase productivity during work hours. Prioritise tasks and say ‘no’ regularly to avoid overextending yourself.

3. **Self-Care:** Prioritise self-care to avoid burnout. Engage in regular exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation or yoga.

Challenge 3: Skill Development

Developing a professional career requires continuous learning and skill development. Part-time workers may only have limited access to training and development opportunities offered to full-time employees.

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1. **Online Learning:** Take advantage of online courses, webinars, and certification programs. Many reputable platforms offer flexible options that fit your schedule.

2. **Request Training:** Don’t hesitate to request specific training or development opportunities from your employer. Explain how it can benefit both you and the organisation.

3. **Peer Learning:** Collaborate with colleagues and peers virtually to exchange knowledge and skills. Create or join virtual communities related to your field of interest.

Challenge 4: Learning by Osmosis

In traditional office settings, professionals often learn from their colleagues through informal interactions, a process sometimes referred to as “learning by osmosis.” Remote and part-time workers may miss out on this valuable source of knowledge.


1. **Virtual Coffee Chats:** Initiate virtual coffee chats or informal video calls with colleagues to discuss projects, share insights, and learn from their experiences.

2. **Mentorship:** Seek out a mentor within or outside your organisation who can guide you and provide valuable insights into your chosen field. Don’t worry that you’ll be committing to a long term relationships, a lot of mentors work with people for a specific project or problem that may only last a few weeks or months.

3. **Stay Curious:** Maintain a curious mindset. Actively seek out opportunities to learn and stay updated on industry trends and best practices through online resources and professional networks.

Challenge 5: Career Progression

Career growth can be challenging when working part-time or flexibly. It may seem like full-time employees are advancing faster.

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1. **Advocate for Yourself:** Be your own advocate. Discuss your career aspirations with your manager and express your desire for growth and advancement and then…

2. **Set Clear Goals:** Define your career goals and create a roadmap for achieving them. Regularly reassess your progress and adjust your strategy as needed.

3. **Explore Side Projects:** Consider taking on freelance work or side projects that align with your career goals. These experiences can enhance your resume and skill set.

Navigating the challenges of developing a career whilst working flexibly part-time or, remotely is undoubtedly challenging, but it is far from impossible. By actively addressing the challenges and implementing the strategies discussed in this blog post, you can pave the way for your success.

Embrace the opportunities that come with modern work arrangements, and remember that with determination and planning, you can achieve your professional goals, regardless of your work style.

And remember, if you're ever feeling a little lost or worried about anything we've mentioned in any of our posts, our Coaches are to help. All you have to do is ask.

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