News: Remote workers face promotion disparity despite equal productivity levels: Study

Benefits & Rewards

Remote workers face promotion disparity despite equal productivity levels: Study

Male remote workers saw a 15% decrease in promotion likelihood and a 10% drop in pay raise prospects compared to in-office counterparts. Women faced slightly lower disparities, at 7% and 8%, respectively.
Remote workers face promotion disparity despite equal productivity levels: Study

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the transition to remote work reshaped the landscape of professional environments, triggering both challenges and adaptations. While many companies swiftly embraced remote work, recent studies shed light on the disparities remote employees face in terms of career advancement compared to their in-office counterparts.

A prime example emerged in March when Dell, a multinational tech company, ignited controversy by informing employees to return to the office if they wished to be considered for promotions or favourable role changes. This move sparked debate over the fairness of such policies, prompting researchers to delve deeper into the dynamics of remote work and its impact on career progression.

To explore this relatively uncharted territory, a team of researchers conducted a survey involving nearly a thousand UK managers from various industries. Presented with profiles of hypothetical employees - including fully on-site workers, hybrid employees, and full-time remote workers - managers were asked to assess their competence and suitability for promotions and salary increases.

The findings revealed a stark reality: remote workers faced significant hurdles in their quest for career advancement. Despite demonstrating equal levels of productivity, remote employees were 11% less likely to receive promotions compared to their in-office counterparts. 

Similarly, they faced a 9% lower likelihood of receiving pay raises. Even hybrid staff encountered challenges, with managers showing a 7% lower likelihood of promoting them compared to on-site employees.

Gender disparities exacerbated the situation, with male fully remote workers experiencing a 15% decrease in promotion likelihood and a 10% drop in pay raise prospects compared to their in-office counterparts. While women faced similar disparities, the magnitude was slightly lower at 7% and 8%, respectively.

However, the study also highlighted a glimmer of hope: organisations with supportive cultures and family-friendly policies exhibited less pronounced discrimination against remote workers. 

In these environments, where there is less pressure and longer working days are discouraged, remote workers faced fewer negative consequences in terms of career advancement.

As we navigate the evolving landscape of remote work, it's essential to address the lessons gleaned from this research. By fostering inclusive cultures, implementing supportive policies, and challenging ingrained biases, organisations can create environments where remote workers have equal opportunities for growth and advancement. 

This entails not only reevaluating promotion criteria but also prioritising equity and fairness in all aspects of remote work dynamics.

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Topics: Benefits & Rewards, #HRTech, #HRCommunity, #RemoteWork

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