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Remote Career Development: Hong Le Of Easy Knock On How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely

An Interview With David Liu

Lack of valuable in person collaboration/brainstorming with your team — schedule regular team meetings and utilize tools such as Zoom and Slack.

Career development is the ongoing process of choosing, improving, developing, and advancing your career. This involves learning, making decisions, collaboration with others and knowing yourself well enough to be able to continually assess your strengths and weaknesses. This can be challenging enough when you work in an office, but what if you work remotely? How does remote work affect your career development? How do you nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues? How can you help your employees do this? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely”. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hong Le.

Hong brings a tremendous amount of depth and expertise to Easy Knock, with 15 years of human resources experience. Most recently with Brightfarms leading HR, prior to that she has spent time at the National Audubon Society, Korn Ferry and United Dental Group. At Easy Knock, Hong leads people operations focusing on culture, employee engagement and talent supporting all functions across the organization.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

During undergrad, I struggled to find my fit in the real world. After being mentored by researchers in clinical psychology, I believed that I could make an impact in mental health. While it would have certainly been rewarding, I’m really glad that a chance conversation with an HR professional at a dinner set me on a similar but different course, a parallel path to look at human problems and promote change in the workplace.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

One of my favorite HR moments was visiting a nature center in Nebraska while I was working at the National Audubon Society and getting up close and personal with thousands of massive migrating Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Very early in my career, I accidentally added a co-worker on an email that I meant to send to my manager to vent. As expected, it was an awkward situation and took some time for me to rebuild trust and credibility. From that day on, I always give direct feedback and verbally, when I can.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Do the work.” There’s no substitute for hard work. I worked hard and treated people around me with respect and not only made good friendships but a wonderful network that I tap into for professional resources from time to time.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?

Listen, listen and listen. Listen to your team, let them tell their stories. Then come up a plan to prioritize the work and days off to recharge. Very important to balance focus and rest.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunities but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?

On a personal level, some benefits from working from home that I’ve enjoyed are less laundry, reclaiming commuting time and energy and tackling small tasks during the day like starting the dishwasher. Additionally, as a parent of young children, it allowed working parents like myself, flexibility to step out mid-day for school pick up (which is near my home) and log back into work after.

From an organizational perspective, increased productivity, opportunity to increase diversity by opening up the candidate pool and flexibility for employees to work from any location.

Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?

  1. Lack of exposure to leadership team
  2. Missing out on watercooler conversations
  3. Lack of valuable in person collaboration/brainstorming with your team
  4. Less visibility into what other teams are working on
  5. Social Isolation

Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?

Here are some ideas on how to address the challenges that we’ve implemented at EasyKnock:

  1. Exposure to the leadership team — ask a leader that you admire to be your mentor. Set up a recurring meeting and set the agenda. Some good questions to ask include: What books/podcast are you reading? Who are your heroes? What is one work challenge that you are working through right now?
  2. Missing out on watercooler conversations — If your company doesn’t have a “random coffee” initiative (where 2 people are matched at random each week to connect on non-work related topics) like at EasyKnock, do it yourself. Reach out to your colleagues, make your way around to the whole company. Start with someone you normally don’t work with, perhaps even a different job level than you are at.
  3. Lack of valuable in person collaboration/brainstorming with your team — schedule regular team meetings and utilize tools such as Zoom and Slack.
  4. Less visibility into what other teams are working on — Ask to “listen” in other team calls to learn about ongoing project status or new initiatives.
  5. Social Isolation — organize virtual engagement activities, have regular check-ins with team members. At EasyKnock we host a variety of monthly social events (like paint night, escape room, murder mystery, lego set building night) at the end of the work day to help employees unwind and stay connected.

Let’s talk about Career Development. Can you share a few ideas about how you can nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues?

It’s hard to look beyond the day, especially when you’re busy and trying to get through the week. I would suggest a few ideas to keep your career moving forward:

Bring up career development, not only during the annual review process but also during the year with your manager. Be clear on what you think are areas (technical and non-technical) that you want to focus on. Ask your manager for advice. Does your company currently have a tuition assistance program or a learning management system to assist with actualizing a growth plan? Share your plans with colleagues and ask them about theirs.

Can you share a few ideas about how employers or managers can help their team with career development?

As employers, send out surveys (engagement, stay interview surveys) to gauge what the organization wants and build benefits/incentive plans around that. Activate a learning program (either through a platform) or organize internal training sessions with SMEs. Managers: get to know your team, find out what they want to do. People lead or project lead or both. Create a plan, assign employees to projects that align with their growth plan and support any licensure or advanced degrees related to their current or desired position.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would start a program for empty nesters across the world to mentor kids or foster kids in the system. Caretakers will not be able to pocket the stipend and the money will go to a college scholarship fund set aside for these kids.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Our website is a resource. People can learn about our different solutions, and how we serve homeowners who have been overlooked for traditional lending options.

Readers will also have the opportunity to learn about “The Stay Mission” EasyKnock’s nonprofit foundation committed to keeping people in their homes by contributing to charitable organizations that support the mission of providing certainty to Americans during uncertain times. You can also follow us on LinkedIn to learn about new job openings. We are hiring!

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.



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