Is Remote Work Suited for Early Career Professionals?
Despite the many benefits remote work brings, there is still some argument whether it’s a good idea for everyone.
“Working remotely pretty much destroyed my career,” laments a commenter on a Hacker News thread. They go on to add, “My advice to you is that unless you are at the end of your career, or value working from home over your career prospects for family or health reasons, avoid working 100% remotely, even in fully distributed companies.”
This outburst echoes one of the more prevalent arguments against taking up remote work early on in your career – it will limit your progression.
“I worked remote when I was a junior developer. I think this hindered my growth in a number of ways and I would strongly recommend against it,” another commenter says via a Dev.to thread. “I consider some of those years lost and think I could have advanced much faster in an on-site role.”
Without the physical access to managers and peers that co-location provides, other commenters agree that working remotely can be more difficult early on. They cite a lack in mentorship, more barriers to asking questions and reduced opportunity for connection as reasons against starting your career remotely.
They’re not alone in their thinking either. The widely-sourced Stanford University work from home experiment run by Nicholas Bloom found that remote workers were about 50 percent less likely to get a performance-based promotion than their office-bound counterparts.
While the study didn’t look into the causes in any in-depth manner, Nicholas did offer up speculations.
“It could be they are ignored [because they’re] at home. It could be you actually need to be in the office to make a good manager. Or it could be people who have the option to work from home refuse promotions,” Nicholas says.
This isn’t just theoretical. Laurel Farrer, CEO of Distribute Consulting a management consulting firm helping companies to integrate proper remote work policies and strategies, often sees remote workers overlooked for promotions.
“This is actually one of the main reasons that remote work can become discriminatory,” she says. “So many promotions are based on top of mind experiences and on visibility.”
Laurel knows that without changing management styles or general mindsets of what work should look like, this experience will continue for remote workers regardless of their career level.
A study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review has similar findings. It stated that both managers and colleagues are influenced by “passive face time,” or in other words seeing someone regularly.
“We were literally taught that in college. Be the first one to go to work and be the last one to leave, and that’s what gets you a promotion,” Laurel says.
But this traditional value signaling doesn’t work in a remote setting. No one can see if you work late or start early. There are also fewer opportunities to ‘run into’ your management team during the week or at after-work social events...read more
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