Research: Choosing to work remotely can negatively impact career

For more than a year, remote employees at many firms were in good company: Everyone was at home. Now, some are returning to the office five days a week, while others are testing out a hybrid schedule or opting not to go back at all. 

These changes mean the playing field at work is shifting, and workers who choose to stay remote may have their careers negatively impacted as a result, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

“During the pandemic, it was, ‘You’re forced to work from home,’” says Brian Kropp, who leads human resources research at Gartner. “Now you’re choosing to work from home. You’re choosing not to be here.”

Researchers have found that managers consistently label in-office workers as higher performers and give them bigger raises and promotions, Kropp says, even though data shows there’s really no difference between the two groups.  

Nearly 60% of 581 professionals surveyed by search firm Korn Ferry in April said that it would hurt their career advancement if they admitted to their boss they’d rather keep working remotely. 

But given the choice, many employees still want to—especially parents. 

A McKinsey & Co. survey, conducted in December and January with 5,043 employees, found that employees without children under 18 were nearly three times as likely to prefer on-site work. A January survey from Gartner found some differences by gender, too: 26% of female caretakers preferred to be fully remote, compared with 18% of male caretakers.

Bosses favoring office workers could stall career growth for parents, especially mothers.

“Without intervention, what’s likely to happen is those gender wage gaps are likely to get worse, not better,” Kropp says. 

Companies should start analyzing compensation of home workers and office workers the same way many now examine pay by gender, Kropp says, to ensure disparities don’t emerge or widen. Read the full story.