Will Working from Home Lower your Chances of Promotion? Research Says Yes, Even Though You’re More Productive.
Since the rolling lockdowns - particularly in NSW and VIC - often the first request we hear from a candidate is “does XYZ company have the flexibility for me to work from home a few days a week?” More often than not, if the company does not allow WFH, the candidate is flat out, no longer interested in moving forward with the interview process. A hybrid model is now the new norm, but is working from home going to affect your eligibility for a promotion?
Nicholas Bloom (May 2021, USA) writes 32% of employees never want to return to the office and that women with young children living in the suburbs are more likely to want to work from home permanently. While 21% - often single employees or empty nesters in city dwellings - would prefer to work a full week in the office. The difference in male and female WFH preferences are clear:
Harvard Business Review found the following:
(sample size 30,000. May – March 2021)
Stanford Graduate School of Business researchers found in China 2014 those working from home 4 days a week compared with the control group who were in the office full time were looked over for promotions in favour of those in the office by 50%. (Sample size of 250 participants over 21 months). And here’s the kicker - those working from home were 13% more productive.
Nick Bloom found that there were 2 reasons for this.
- Those WFH don’t have the opportunity to show their skills first hand to the Senior Leadership Team and can’t build relationships with colleagues and managers that are as strong as those in the office rubbing shoulders with the SLTs.
- Out of sight out of mind – office based employees are perceived to be working hard because the manager can see them, even while they’re struggling. - Cristea 2019 (University of Santa Barbera, California)
So how do we ensure a fair, flexible and productive working place?
Bloom recommends to level the playing field, when considering home based, office based or hybrid. Have a same size fits all rule – either everyone works from home, everyone attends the office, or everyone works in a hybrid model on the same days. If the SLT team are in Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday then so are all the staff. If this can’t be managed due to office space and restriction – try to ensure everyone has cross over days at least 2 days a week.
COVID has changed the workplace forever and for those with children and living rurally or who just like wearing trackpants instead of a suit the opportunity to work from home has been a blessing. Now that we’re trickling back to the office with few restrictions in place, it’s time to sit down with your colleagues and management and figure out what model with most benefit your business and your career.