Remote working and Promotion Prospects


Remote working and Promotion Prospects

Posted on 12 October 2023

We recently did a poll on whether people are less likely to be promoted if they work remotely and the results show that 54% of people think you are more likely to be promoted if you favour working in the office.

Why is this?

My experience with managing remote workers is that you need to shine a light on the individuals so that those people are appreciated and remembered even when they aren’t in the office or in the meetings. The people around them and the remote worker themselves, need to know they are valued and an integral part of the team, and that the same opportunities are available to them regardless of their place of work.

This is only possible though if you as a manager spend the time to build strong relationships with them, understand the work they do and how they do it so that you can identify their strengths, abilities and aspirations.  Once you know this, you can ensure that opportunities are made available to them.

So often promotions or role changes start off with a conversation, it may be in a formal meeting but often it is sparked by those casual chats grabbing a coffee (or tea for me!) walking to a meeting, going for lunch or just sat next to each other in the office. For remote workers those conversations aren’t as frequent or comfortable.

You need to make time for your team members, often MORE time for those people who aren’t side by side with you every day. 

What are they doing, how are they working, what do they want to achieve and where do they want to go? Do they know what is happening within the team, beyond their team and in the wider business? Do they have the opportunity to share their ideas or proposals? How informed are they on the changes happening in your business and the challenges or opportunities that will come with it?

Do your remote workers get the same opportunities to work on key projects when it is easier to give it to someone you know better, trust more, or have a deeper relationship with, because they are with you more frequently in the office?

So, what does research say?

There has been an increase in the number of employees with flexible working arrangements in their current role, from 51% in 2022 to 60% in 2023(CIPD, Flexible and Hybrid working practices in 2023: Employer and employee perspectives, 2023).Organisations and managers need to be considering what action they can take to ensure inclusion for these individuals.  

Shockingly, a study by found that 84% of employers indicated that career prospects would be limited for those who work exclusively from home ( Returning for Good Report 2023).

According to the CIPD a fifth of remote or hybrid employees are concerned about being treated less favourably compared with office-based colleagues (CIPD, 2023).This, coupled with employers’ negative perspectives, show there is real work to be done to ensure inclusivity for these workers, especially as it is often women or minority workers in these positions.

Isn’t the employee responsible for their career progression?

Looking from a different view, is it a remote workers responsibility to put themselves in the best position to be promoted? What are they doing to ensure they seek out opportunities, ask the right questions, make themselves available/prominent enough to be recognised? 

Some office-based employees may feel they have to work just as hard to be noticed by senior management. There may be an expectation that as they are always there they can be leaned on more and so have a higher workload – “would you mind just doing X…?”, “as you’re in today could you help me with Y?”

My perspective is that regardless of where or how you work there will always be challenges when it comes to achieving career progression. However, those who are ‘out of sight, out of mind’ need more support and assistance to ensure they are experience equity in accessing the opportunities out there for them.

Companies need to consider promotion bias and be intentional about supporting remote employee progression if they want to fully leverage the benefits of a hybrid or remote workforce. 

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