Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

Why working from home may harm your career

Management, OrganizationEdward KiledjianComment

When you hear about non-traditional work arrangements, you probably think about a hot tech startup where employees come to work on Segways wearing Hawaiian shirts but most companies now offer some type of non-traditional work arrangement. The most common is flex time and work from home. These arrangements benefit the employees & employer.

The employee gets a comfortable home work environment that is distraction free and saves dozens of travel hours. The employer gets a more productive employee and considerably reduced secondary costs (office, phone, internet, etc).

Although Work From Home is mutually beneficial, research has shown that it does have one major negative repercussion: a negative perception of those using these non-traditional arrangements (particularly Work from Home). It seems these employees aren’t given the same amount of credit as the traditional office bound employees. This seems to be a natural (sometimes unconscious) bias suspecting that employees who are not in the office are not working “as hard” or “as long”  as their traditional counterparts. 

A university study entitled “Why Showing Your Face Matters” found that employees working with non-traditional arrangements typically receive lower performance evaluations, smaller raises and fewer promotions than the office bound control group. These negative impacts exist even if the remote employees work harder and longer than the control.

If you are an employee working from home, there are steps you can take to improve your situation:

  • Stay In touch – Stay in constant communication with colleagues, customers and supervisors. Regularly email, Instant Message and call. By always staying available and in touch, people understand that you are “actually working”
  • Get face time – Make it a point to periodically come into the office and when there, use this time to meet with your boss and do visible work you can’t do from home.
  • Build alliances – Identify influential people (working from the office) that can help your cause by being supporters. Keep these people update about what you are working on. These people can be excellent references during peer reviews (for evaluations).
  • Prove your dedication – Work from home employees tend to start working earlier and finish later (since there is no commute time). Highlight this fact by sending emails or leaving voicemails during these extended periods. Think of these as tangible proof of your dedication.

As an organizational leader that has managed thousands of remote employees, I hope the above recommendations help you and your career. These are proven strategies that work and I recommend you take them seriously.