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Does Working from Home Harm Your Chances of Getting a Promotion?

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Remote and hybrid work have become highly desired workplace perks, with plenty of in-depth reports and analysis showing their advantages. In fact, employees who work remotely often say they’re happier, more productive and more likely to stay with their employer.

But new research shows there's at least one drawback to these arrangements: you could be crushing your chance of a promotion. Fully remote workers witnessed a 31% dip in promotions compared to their in-person counterparts last year, as per Live Data Technologies’ analysis of two million white-collar workers in the U.S. 

This isn’t “news” as such. As far back as 2015, Stanford Graduate School of Business research found that remote workers were less likely to get promoted––even though they were, on average, nearly 15% more productive than their on-site peers. 

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The situation is even more inequitable when you take a look at the opinions of managers and decision-makers. Findings from a recent KMPG survey of 1,300 global CEOs (400 in the U.S.) indicated that around 90% expressed a preference for rewarding in-person employees with raises, promotions, or better assignments. Furthermore, 64% believe that everybody will be back to working from the office by 2026.

As of last May, the list of companies that stopped having a distributed workforce includes Disney, Amazon, Activision Blizzard, Starbucks, Qualtrics, Walmart, General Motors, United Parcel Service and Meta. 

Even Google has asked remote workers to reconsider switching from full remote to hybrid. And some companies have taken this tactic to the extreme. Earlier this year Bank of America sent out “letters of education” to staff threatening them with disciplinary action if they fail to meet minimum office attendance. 

After reversing its ten year position on remote work, Dell has just begun enforcing a strict three-days-in-the-office policy (implementing new tracking techniques), coupled with a promotion blockade for non compliance. 

Such policies are proving widely unpopular with workers who resent bearing the additional time and cost of commuting to work, even if they have proved they can perform their job from home. 

Research shows that women are resigning at higher rates in response to RTO mandates than men. It’s unsurprising when you factor in the impact of the gender wage gap in the U.S. and the reality that women tend to shoulder the majority of the domestic labor, particularly childcare. 

People with disabilities and advocacy groups have also warned that RTO mandates disproportionately hurt workers with disabilities, including neurodivergent people.

The allure of working on one’s own terms is so strong that employees would choose ample flexibility over money. A new survey of 4,000 workers in the U.S. found that workers are clamoring for work-from-anywhere roles. 

For these opportunities, 50% would be willing to take a pay cut, 20% would increase their working hours, and 15% would give up vacation days. Of those willing to take a decrease in pay, 26% of people would take a 5% pay cut, and 24% stated they’d take a decrease of 10% or 15%.

Returning to full-time in-office work is already a dealbreaker for some. In a 2022 survey, 36% of respondents disclosed they had already quit their jobs because they couldn’t work remotely, and 61% stated they were ready to leave if a remote opportunity were to come up. 

In this year’s US-based survey, Owl Lab reported that 29% of hybrid and remote workers stated they would expect a pay rise if they were forced to go back to the office full-time. 

For Americans who are still fond of working from home, one piece of good news is that data shows no difference in promotion rates between hybrid workers and those who come to the office five days a week. Workplace culture experts suggest that clocking in three days a week is enough to ensure that you’re not out of sight and forgotten about. 

If you still feel a proximity bias from your manager, then it might be time to switch jobs. There are plenty of supportive organizations that will promote based on merit, not whether you show the face in the office more than others. Visit the nextpit Job Board to find your perfect placement.

Start your job search today on the nextpit Job Board. This article was written by Suzie Coen.

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