Months have passed since workers began to return to the offices, but remote work has retained a surprising staying power. Most employees are still working remotely for at least one or two days every week.
The silver lining about remote work is that it may actually help close the gaps in promotions and career trajectories at workplaces. According to the Modern Workplace Report, 2022, produced by Care.com and Mother Honestly, almost eight in ten men and women (77%) believe that the widespread adoption of remote work has also created opportunities for women in terms of career advancement.
The report surveyed 1,000 employees in caregiving roles and 500 C-suite executives and HR decision-makers. About 66% of the workers surveyed reported that they were comfortably able to work from home, even better than in the pre-pandemic period. Only 32% of managers and nearly 25% of employees said that their companies and job profiles require personnel in the workplace full-time.
About three-quarters of employees said that their quality of life improved while following the hybrid and remote work schedules. Similarly, 58 percent of the managers and 55 percent of workers said that their productivity was up. Not only is remote work sustainable, but it is also proving to be successful as well. Many respondents in the survey reported that the new norms in workplaces have a positive impact on women. The report also found that flexible work has led to better gender balance in household responsibilities as well.
Natalie Mayslich, president of Care.com, said in a statement that remote work is proving to be a “paradigm which works for everyone, and tackles the usual challenges such as productivity and quality of life, and, has also led to gender equity as well.”
The only downside to remote work is that the employees are anxious about the long-term career risks. While remote work offers much-needed flexibility and the potential level playing field, both workers and managers understand career advancement depends on internal policies and culture in a workplace.
More than half (58%) of women worry that remote work would limit their overall career advancement. The worry was higher amongst men (64%) who reported that they were anxious about their career trajectory. This belief that in-office work is advantageous for those employees looking to get ahead is still pervading. About six in ten managers say that being in-person at the workplace is better and helps build team camaraderie, efficiency, mentorship, and even understanding office politics better.
Apart from the proximity bias at workplaces, experts say that motherhood bias is another deterrent that may impact women working remotely. Motherhood bias occurs when people judge mothers as less committed to work. This can be a hurdle for women working in hybrid or remote scenarios and create an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality against them in terms of both promotions and layoffs.
If a manager or supervisor fails to have a personal connection with a particular segment of the workforce, it might naturally be emotionally easy to lay off those people. While the risks are real, employers should not abandon remote work, especially when there are benefits to this model. Instead, businesses should ensure that their work model and policies do not favor in-person workers at the expense of remote or hybrid employees.
Organizations that have hybrid and fully remote employees need to make an effort to be transparent about their promotion criteria. Getting ahead at work should not depend only on how much your boss likes you. The onus also falls on the workers to advocate for their rights, especially if they are working remotely.
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