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Promo without returning to office?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [4] at Ubera year ago

My goal is get promoted to senior [5A], and I'm currently working remotely. My manager is okay with me working remote only, but the promo committee might not be as Uber leadership overall is investing into RTO, and my team has gone back to the office for the most part. Do you think this will hurt my chances, and if so, any tips on how to navigate the situation?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    In an ideal world, you would get judged purely based on your performance and impact, but as I'm sure we all know, the real-world isn't ideal. I can definitely see how politics could arbitrarily affect your rating here, and the performance review process will usually be fairly opaque for a mid-level engineer.

    Here are the things that are in your control that you could actually try:

    • Talk to your skip - Your skip will have more visibility on this, especially as RTO decisions tend to be at the director/VP level from what I've seen across the industry. If you already have a recurring skip 1:1 or something, use this to have an honest conversation about where you stand and the future of remote work with regards to performance. It's possible that they're uncomfortable promoting anybody to senior who isn't back in the office as that's often a tech lead role in FAANG/FAANG-equivalent companies like Uber. You want to tease out this info ASAP.
    • Follow-up with your manager - Your manager will have better access to your skip and execs higher up on the chain than you do, so you can ask them to talk to these folks with your questions.
    • Make the best case for yourself - Of course, the first step here is to knock it out of the park and be genuinely crushing it, operating as a senior engineer and ideally a bit higher (you always want to do this anyways as promotions are lagging). However, after you do this, you need to make sure that it's crystal clear you are operating at this higher level and 100% deserve the promotion. At big companies, the core component there is your self review, which we made a video about optimizing here.

    Here's some resources on doing effective remote work: