scorecardManagers more likely to promote workers who regularly come to office compared to remote employees: study
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Managers more likely to promote workers who regularly come to office compared to remote employees: study

Managers more likely to promote workers who regularly come to office compared to remote employees: study
Careers2 min read
Leading a team from the confines of individual bedrooms undoubtedly induced anxiety for managers during the COVID-19 lockdown. However, there was quick relief in how promptly employees adapted to this new paradigm. While numerous companies have embraced the work-from-home norm, some of these employers have finally begun to call people back to their offices.

In March, Dell also decided it was time to notify their employees to return to the office, a move whose execution would thrust them into stark controversy. According to a Business Insider report, the multinational tech company allegedly sent corporate memos to all employees, explaining that while they could continue to work under hybrid or remote arrangements, only the former would relish the luxury of promotions or favourable role changes within the company.

While this discriminatory announcement might seem outright blatant, it turns out that similar ladder-climbing challenges may already be at play, afflicting unknowing remote workers.

To assess the relatively uncharted territory of remote work dynamics, a team of researchers surveyed nearly a thousand UK managers from diverse industries. They were presented with profiles of three completely made-up employees: a fully on-site worker, a hybrid employee working two days from home and three days from the office, and a full-time remote worker working all five days from home. The managers were asked a bunch of career-related questions, such as which hypothetical employee seemed the most competent, who they deemed most fit for promotions and salary hikes, and so on.

What they uncovered was nothing short of revelatory: remote workers faced a daunting uphill battle in their quest for promotions and pay raises. Despite contributing the same amount of work, there was an 11% less chance that remote employees would receive a promotion compared to fully on-site workers. Further, they were 9% less likely to receive a pay raise as well.

Even the hybrid staff were not immune to the harsh realities of remote work, with the study finding that these managers were, on average, 7% less likely to promote the group compared to the on-site employees.

Completing the cherry on top of the discriminatory corporate cake were the gender disparities that surfaced. The researchers found male fully remote workers bore the brunt of the burden, facing a staggering 15% decrease in promotion likelihood and a 10% drop in pay raise prospects compared to the fully on-siters. In comparison, the equivalent figures for women stood at 7% and 8%, respectively.

Fortunately, this corporate discrimination was distinctly less pronounced in more supportive organisations. The study found that managers from more demanding offices were a third less likely to promote men who worked entirely from home, compared to full-time office-goers, further highlighting the importance of finding a good boss.

"In more supportive organisations, where there is less pressure and long working days and where family-friendly policies exist, we don't find such negative consequences of remote work," explained study author Agnieszka Kasperska.

As we navigate the ever-evolving terrain of remote work, it's imperative to heed the lessons learned from this groundbreaking research. By fostering inclusive cultures, implementing supportive policies, and challenging ingrained biases, we can pave the way for a future where remote workers share equal opportunity for growth and advancement.

The preliminary findings of this research can be accessed here.

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