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It has been widely reported that the majority of executives and managers want staff back in the office, preferably full time. The number of people working remotely rapidly grew as a result of the  pandemic and now there is a signifiant push back.

The Wall Street Journal reported that staff working from home 5 days a week got promoted 31% less frequently in the past year than office-based workers, according to research by Live Data Technologies.

The study indicated that almost 90% of CEOs questioned said they are more likely to prioritise in-office staff for promotions, career advancing projects and raises. Remote workers, especially women, were also found to be less likely to receive mentorship.

Are senior executives out of touch on this issue? Yes they are. 

Benefits of remote work

There are multiple studies that have found the remote working model leads to better outcomes for employees AND employers.  A report by Buffer, based on a survey of over 3,500 remote workers worldwide, found that 97% would recommend remote work to others. While 80% reported higher job satisfaction when working remotely, which is often linked to increased productivity and job performance.

A study published in Harvard Business Review revealed that remote employees are on average, “4.4% more productive than their in-office counterparts due to quieter working environments, fewer interruptions from colleagues, and the ability to structure the workday to suit individuals when they are most productive.” This productivity gain translates into tangible benefits for both employees and employers, fostering a culture of trust and autonomy that is conducive to career advancement.

The flexibility afforded by remote work enables professionals to achieve a better work-life balance, leading to higher job satisfaction and increased loyalty to their organisations.

What can remote work employees do to get ahead?

Here at ALRA we embraced a remote-work model pre-pandemic and we’re advocates of how effective and beneficial it can be. However, there can certainly be issues. If you’re an employee with remote work arrangements it’s worthwhile being across common problems so you can manage them.

Lack of visibility

Remote employees may find it challenging to showcase their skills, accomplishments, and potential contributions to the organisation, ultimately hindering their chances of promotion. Ensure that your achievements and skills aren’t going under the radar. Find ways to demonstrate and showcase your hard work and commitment.

Communication barriers

Face to face interactions are superior to zoom meetings. We develop deeper connections and are better able to read body language and tone of voice when connecting with fellow employees in real life. So if possible, plan to meet with your colleagues/boss in person from time to time. You can also avoid frustrations by making sure you are an effective communicator remotely eg install updates and be available.

Limited mentorship

Career advancement often requires mentorship, guidance, and opportunities for skill development and growth. In remote work settings, access to mentorship and developmental resources may be limited compared to traditional office environments. Advocate for your company to have remote mentoring programs or find a mentor of your own.

Perception of productivity

Despite evidence suggesting that remote workers are often more productive than their office-based counterparts, concerns about productivity and performance persist among some employers and managers. Delivering high quality results, being enthusiastic and available during work hours should dispel these ideas.

Company culture

If you’re aware that the company you work for wants staff in the office 5 days a week and you’ve negotiated to work 100% remotely, then you will have a tougher time getting that promotion. Find a company that supports the level of flexibility you require.