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Will Working From Home Ruin Your Chances of Career Promotion?

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

Out of sight, out of mind?

This is a real concern for the modern workplace and one that needs to be addressed before catastrophic problems arise - think lawsuits, reputation and more!

For many years, offices around the world have been plagued by a culture that promotes those who work hard and put in all the hours. Such employees diligently arrive before anyone else and tend to stay late into the evening. They believe that working hard will pay off - eventually.

Of course, this is not applicable to every single person who was ever promoted - but largely, it happens. Time to shine a light on this!

The overworking badge of honour is becoming a thing of the past and generations in the workplace today are more tuned into mental health and overall wellbeing than any other generation before them.

Work life balance is no longer a relevant turn of phrase or needed to be said.

Life, simply is - life. Everything is fluid and connected.

Throughout the pandemic, we came to realise a few things

  1. Work is not everything and overworking is not cool

  2. Health & Family are truly the most important thing we have

  3. Work and family can co-exist (even if it's tricky at first)!

With many offices choosing to opt for a hybrid working model we will expect to see greater flexibility in how each person approaches their work.

Is there a need for a standard 40hr contract for example?

Let's be real - most people work until the job in hand is done - so if that is a few hours each day or 12 hours a day, you can almost be rest assured that those with integrity will simply get the job done.

Working from home means that parents get to enjoy their family time that little bit more.

Bye bye horrendous commute and loss of precious time.

However, working from home also means that employees physical presence is lacking compared to pre-pandemic habits.

Yes, employees are connected digitally, yes they are seen and heard via whatever platform each business is using. But as soon as 'end call' is pressed everyone becomes 'out of sight, out of mind'

Being out of sight to your bosses could be detrimental to career progression.

Think about this:

Senior leadership are highly likely to be in the office at least 50% of the working week. Many will be there almost 100% of the time.

They want to meet together, work in an environment where they feel they can work and lead at their best - for many in executive roles, working from home can hamper productivity and the creative process.

If an employee is mid-career or climbing the corporate ladder they are likely to be enjoying working from home - no commute, extra time to spend with partner/kids, work on some home improvements! The pandemic was an opportunity to perfect the indoors, so much so, that leaving the home has become an anxious event for some people.

Did you hear about post pandemic anxiety of returning to work?

Businesses should not ignore this.

People got used to a new normal - and they liked it. Alot.

So what will now happen with promotions?

Imagine this - 2 employees in a similar role, both have similar skills and a fair amount of tenure.

The first employee works from home 4/5 days and only pops into the office on a Monday.

The second employee works from home 1/5 days and is in the office Mon-Thurs.

Their boss is in the office 5 days a week.

Which employee gets to build more rapport?

Which employee gets to have interactions in the corridor?

Which employee occasionally eats a lunch with their boss?

Which employee strolls to the carpark or shares a lift with said boss?

All of these small interactions and moments of connection leads to one outcome.

This visible employee is favoured, quite simply because they are - visible!

Look, I know it sucks but it's a (tough) reality I think we all need to understand.

Think about this - you're at a party, the food is looking great. You help yourself to some garlic prawns, feta salad and some other bits too.

Then you find out there is more food in the back - but, you're not so bothered, you have everything you want right in-front of you!

Does this mean that mid-management and employees wanting to achieve career progression will essentially be forced back into the workplace to be seen and considered?

Does working from home show less care or commitment to the business?

Unfortunately there are a broad set of leaders who enforce office working - it is masked as 'this is your contracted place of work' when in fact, it's because they like to see employees and/or control the workforce.

This leadership of yesterday will come crashing down. The modern employee wants flexibility, top talent will leave businesses that cannot offer this.

Does career progression come with personal sacrifice?

Are you expected to be seen?

Is it worth it?

One thing is for sure - the workplace is evolving rapidly and with anything, to survive and thrive, everyone simply must adapt.

How well can this be done? Time will tell.

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