Out of sight, out of mind—that’s what remote workers apparently are to their managers. Meanwhile, workers who go into the office are more likely to get face time with management which can increase their odds of scoring a promotion, getting a raise, and winning the affections of their boss.
At least, that’s the picture that countless studies have painted. But now, new research has suggested that it’s not so black and white.
It’s true that remote workers are indeed more likely to be passed up for promotion, but studies tend to assume that workers are either fully at home or in the office. In reality, however, a large portion of the workforce is doing a bit of both, with the the average office worker going in around 3.5 days a week. Just 7% of workers in the U.S. are fully remote.
Fortunately, for the large majority of white-collar workers, recent data shows that there’s actually no difference in performance reviews or promotion rates between hybrid workers and those who come to the office five days a week, newly updated research from the National Bureau of Economic Research has found.
Really, heading into the office just a few days a week is enough to get you noticed, the researchers found. As the co-author of the study, Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom recently explained to The Wall Street Journal, “three days a week is enough” to ensure that “you’re not out of sight and forgotten about.”
But workers have to make those in-office days count
The key is being intentional about getting those all-important in-person interactions while you are in the office.
“How do you make those two days count?,” British serial entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow OBE, co-founder of AllBright, the women’s career network, noted at the inaugural Women in Work. “How do you make sure that you’re seen because we shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t matter.”
This is especially the case for newbie hybrid workers: Experienced workers who already had a proven track record and existing professional relationships were more able to mitigate or avoid the drawbacks of working from home, the National Bureau of Economic Research found.
When done right, not only are there no career disadvantages for hybrid workers compared to those coming in every day, the study also found that the “highly valued” flexible working model has major benefits for businesses too—namely, a 33% reduction in employee attrition.
Hybrid work equates to a raise
Ultimately, the 3-2 pattern—which many tech giants like Meta and Zoom have already rolled out—is more efficient for companies. Firms don’t even have to give their hybrid workers an actual pay rise for them to feel like they’re getting more bang for their buck than full-time in-office workers.
Employees have reported that they view working from home for two days a week as a perk equivalent to a 6% raise.
It’s why young workers are raising their employer’s return to office mandates with a long list of demands, including free lunches, subsidized travel and a 21% pay rise.
So, as Bloom previously wrote in a column for the Guardian, “If your company wants to force employees back into the office for five days a week it will need to compensate them—or face losing staff when economies recover.”
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