Does Remote Working Impact Career Progression?

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How does remote working impact career progression and promotions? Check out the research, data, & tips on remote career advancement in this Q&A now:

How does remote working impact career progression?

You may have seen some misleading articles about how remote workers fare worse than their in-office counterparts when it comes to earning bonuses, promotions, and climbing the corporate ladder.

However, we know that working remotely is so good for career building. The unique benefits of remote work perfectly align telecommuters to excel in their virtual roles and progress throughout their professional lives.

So in this article, we’ll tackle the most frequently asked questions about remote career advancement. We’ll use research and data to clear up misconceptions and help you build the remote work life of your dreams.

FAQs: Does Remote Working Impact Career Progression?

Remote work has a positive impact on career progression. Remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts, more satisfied with their jobs, and leverage their flexible schedules to develop new skills for advancement.

According to Buffer’s 2023 State of Remote Work Report [*]:

  • 98% of remote workers would recommend remote work to others.

  • 99% would like to continue working remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.

  • 36% of remote workers believe career growth is easier when working remotely.

However, there’s a big difference between career growth at a remote-first organization and a company with a hybrid workforce. So let’s dive into this caveat first.

👉 Is It Better for Your Career To Work for a Remote Company?

All employees work remotely at remote-first companies. This gives everyone the same opportunities for training, networking, promotions, and advancement. 

In fact, 48% of workers believe career growth is more straightforward when all employees work remotely and are on the same level playing field [*].

Remote-optimized organizations have protocols set up to:

Improve collaboration, communication, and team-building via asynchronous communication. They encourage geographically distant colleagues to connect and work together to achieve better outcomes (which look great on resumes).

Buffer research shows that 93% of remote employees without a main office or primary work time zone have better collaboration with their coworkers [*]. And 75% report feeling more connected to their colleagues or clients as a result.

Reward performance. Using cloud-based project managers and other tools, nearly every remote worker’s move is tracked and time-stamped. This gives leaders full visibility on which employees are productive contributors to the team’s success. 

Over 75% of remote workers say it’s easier to progress in their role because they’re measured on their output and impact instead of their time in the office [*].

Support career growth. Roughly half (51%) of Buffer’s respondents say their company promotes remote career growth opportunities [*]. They may offer a learning stipend, access to online courses, additional training, etc. 

Plus, a study from MIT revealed that remote work improved the confidence of early-career employees by 80% [*].

Create a healthy work-life balance. Remote workers believe a flexible schedule and work environment help them focus, manage stress, and avoid distractions [*]. This may be why remote workers are happier and more satisfied with their jobs than on-premise workers [*].

All these perks help employees on fully-distributed teams perform to their potential and gain the confidence to progress in their careers. However, the same cannot be said for hybrid workforces.

👉 Does Remote Work Hurt Career Growth at Hybrid Organizations?

Growing your career as a remote employee at a remote-friendly organization may be more challenging. 

With hybrid workforces, some employees head to the office during standard business hours while remote employees telecommute. So even though you may be allowed to work remotely, most of your company’s tools, meetings, and standard processes will remain centered around those working in the office.

This often leads to the negative effects of working from home, such as:

Low visibility. It’s common for in-house teams and leaders to take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to their remote coworkers. Remote employees may receive less praise for their contributions and accomplishments if they are less visible.

According to research:

  • 51% of remote workers feel that if they are not seen, people won’t think of them for new opportunities [*].

  • 37% think they’re often left out of organic, water cooler conversations between in-house employees [*].

  • 42% are concerned about being visible for project opportunities and promotions [*]. 

Besides feeling like an outsider, remote workers at hybrid companies must also overcome:

Proximity bias. Managers in traditional office settings have an inherent tendency to reward employees they can physically observe or interact with. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says 42% of managers admitted that they often overlook remote workers when handing out assignments because they simply forgot about them [*].

SHRM shares that the most common examples of proximity bias include [*]:

  • Evaluating the work of onsite employees more highly than remote employees, regardless of objective performance metrics.

  • Offering onsite employees the most exciting projects, assignments, promotions, or development opportunities.

  • Excluding remote employees from important meetings or not encouraging them to speak up on calls.

Proximity bias not only leads to fewer chances for promotions and advancement. It also means remote employees miss out on opportunities for team-building, training, mentorships, and other perks that could skyrocket their careers.

When you hear stories about why remote work is bad for your career, they often come from workers at hybrid organizations. 

👉 So Is There Room for Career Advancement If Someone Is Working Online While Their Colleagues Work Onsite?

In a survey of 10,000 workers, more than four out of ten executives ranked the potential inequities between remote and in-office employees as their number one concern [*]. 

So now, many companies are training their managers to overcome proximity bias and give their remote workers a way to forge ahead in their careers.

As TheNew York Times reports [*]:

  • Nationwide Insurance trained managers to facilitate career development for remote workers and paired them with mentors or company resources to help them reach their goals. The organization also created a virtual four-week leadership course for employees at all levels.

  • Software developer HubSpot trains managers to work with distributed teams, emphasizing conversations that establish team cohesion and build personal relationships. This “intentionality” to team events may help combat managers’ tendency to favour onsite employees.

Unfortunately, the downsides of working remotely for your career may remain if hybrid companies are unwilling to take measures like these.

👉 Are Remote Workers Less Likely To Be Promoted?

Remote promotions depend on a company’s culture, management style, career hierarchy, and individual performance metrics. Promoted candidates often have effective communication, collaboration, and leadership skills, which are easier for employees to display in remote-first organizations than in remote-friendly ones.

Emilie L Schario, a Data Engineer at GitLab, told doist that:

Getting promoted while working remotely really depends on how remote your company is. GitLab is a fully remote organization with over 700 folks around the world, so getting promoted wasn’t difficult at all. In previous roles, I was the only person who worked remotely. In those cases, I felt very forgotten by my employer.”

So when it comes to promotions, working for a remote-first team may increase your odds of climbing the corporate ladder sooner — especially if you’re productive, build excellent relationships with your peers and leaders, and show initiative.

💡Related: Is Job Hopping Bad When You Work Remotely?

👉 How Do You Climb the Corporate Ladder While Working Remotely?

Remote work is changing how climbing the career ladder works. It’s no longer about showing up early and being the last employee to clock out.

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Here’s how to climb the corporate ladder when working remotely:

1. Discuss your career goals with your team leaders and HR. Share your aspirations and what you need to reach your dream role. Set clear and measurable goals together, so you can track your progress.

2. Express interest in career development opportunities. Take advantage of professional development courses, webinars, training sessions, etc., that your organization offers.

3. Volunteer to lead meetings, spearhead projects, etc. Showing initiative proves you’re eager to tackle challenges head-on. Go above and beyond what’s expected of you to show you’re dedicated, proactive, and ready for more responsibility.

4. Maintain strong relationships with your coworkers. Communicate clearly and consistently with your team over video calls, Slack messages, etc., to collaborate as a cohesive unit. Participate in team-building activities and social networking events.

5. Stay informed of the latest industry trends and best practices. What does the future of work look like in your industry? What are your competitors up to? What certifications or courses should you pursue to gain a leg up? 

6. Keep a record of your wins. Record all your achievements in a Google Doc or notebook. It can be easy to forget these accomplishments during your daily grind. But they’ll confirm you’re ready for a promotion when performance evaluations roll around.

These tips will demonstrate that you’re a valuable asset to any remote employer and help you position yourself as the perfect candidate for a promotion.

👉 Does Remote Work Look Good On a Resume?

Absolutely! Whether you’re applying for a remote job or transitioning to freelance, contract, or gig work, the skills you develop in a remote role will help your resume stand out and get noticed.

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Besides learning that you can effectively work remotely on day one, your resume will also show off your:

  • Adaptability and flexibility. You’re equally productive in virtual settings and different work environments, excelling where others may struggle with distractions.

  • Self-discipline. Your ability to work independently proves you’re self-motivated and capable of working autonomously.

  • Technical skills. You can’t be a successful virtual employee without mastering all the must-have tech skills for remote work. Companies need employees with digital literacy and won’t have to train you on the tools they use most.

  • Global teamwork abilities. By working with teammates all around the globe, hiring teams will know you’re comfortable collaborating with diverse, cross-cultural colleagues. 

Psst! Don’t forget to add these skills to put on a resume to land your dream remote job. They’ll also demonstrate that you’re a valuable candidate worth interviewing. 

👉 How Can I Develop My Career While Working Remotely?

Our guide on How To Keep Building Your Career Remotely highlights six proven ways to catapult your career:

  1. Start with a vision of your future career
  2. Keep adding skills to your toolbelt
  3. Track and show off your career growth
  4. Make responsiveness & async communication your jam
  5. Prioritize team-building and networking
  6. Research fully remote companies that foster growth

Check out that guide next for a deep dive into all our helpful tips and suggestions. 

💻 Work in tech? You’ll definitely want to read 7 Ways To Progress Your Tech Career When Working Remotely too.

Either guide will put you in the fast lane for achieving your professional dreams.

✨ Start Here To Reach Your Remote Work Career Goals

Research suggests that remote work positively impacts career progression, job satisfaction, and work-life balance. But as we learned, those perks are easier to obtain at a remote company versus one that’s only remote-friendly.

So you’re in luck! 🍀 We Work Remotely is the number one destination to find incredible remote jobs at the best remote companies around the world. Create your free WWR account, and we’ll find the best remote opportunities tailored to you. 

To ensure that remote job boosts your career, we suggest that you:

Follow those tips, and we know your remote career trajectory will be off the charts! 🚀

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