Telecommuters may be losing out on promotions

Dive Brief:

  • Research suggests remote workers' chances for advancement may be lower than onsite workers, reports SHRM. A study of employees that work from home found that 50% of telecommuters don’t get promoted, despite productivity levels 13% above their onsite colleagues, SHRM said. The number of American workers telecommuting increased from 39% in 2012 to 43% in 2016, according to a 2017 Gallup report
  • Several reasons could be at play in the low promotion rates for telecommuters, including: that they work at home, that they need to be in the office to be considered a good manager, or that people who work from home don't accept promotions, Nicholas Bloom, the Stanford University economist who led the study told SHRM. Bloom and his team conducted their work from home research at a 16,000-employee, NASDAQ-listed travel agency based in China.
  • Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute, told SHRM that whether telecommuters are promoted depends on the employer. She said that in global organizations, where few employees work side-by-side because they are located in different countries, no one questions the productivity of the arrangement.

Dive Insight:

In organizations where all but a few employees work onsite, those who live and work at a distance from the office might be less visible. Employers might have to remind managers and supervisors that telecommuters should have the same opportunities for career advancement as any other employee, though in organizations that are majority onsite an employer may need to be clear about which positions are open to promotion. As always, a recruiter should be upfront about expectations and opportunities each position provides.

IBM’s marketing department might be one of a few companies who reversed the trend toward more remote workers. Last September, Big Blue’s chief of marketing, Michelle Peluso, “co-located” all the department’s employees to boost teamwork, she said.

But telecommuting isn’t likely to slow down or go away. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that telecommuting has grown 103% since 2005. A Quartz analysis puts that percentage at 153% since 2000. According to Quartz, more full-time workers telecommute than walk or cycle to work.

Filed Under: HR Management Comp & Benefits