Are remote workers missing out?

In this growing age of the digital nomad, there are many perceived benefits associated with being a remote worker.  Many of these benefits are genuine, tangible things like not having to spend two or more hours of the day commuting too and from work.  However, managers will be well served by understanding some of the main pitfalls that are becoming clear now that we have some (all be it short) history to learn from.  I’ve touched on some of these topics in previous blogs.  

(See: How intimate are you when managing your remote team?  How do you keep a sense of team when everyone is geographically dispersed?  Leading remote workers in the digital era) 

This time I want to raise the question as to whether remote workers are missing out on career opportunities? 

It’s an interesting issue that seems to be increasingly evident.  People who remote work can be missing out on promotions and other opportunities, simply because ‘out of sight’ is often ‘out of mind’.  This phenomenon is also contributing to the willingness of career hungry remote workers to work ever extending hours, to ensure they have impact whilst not physically present.  The danger is simple, the further you are from the main hub, the more unlikely you are to be selected.  

Good managers need to buck this apparent trend and think more widely when project or career opportunities are on the table.  It’s very easy to be inclusive once we are aware of the danger of what I’m calling ‘proximity bias’.  The issue is exaggerated because remote workers often are not so well known to managers in the rest of the business.  It’s not that you, their manager, forgets them, it’s that other managers don’t see them at work, so they don’t naturally come up in the minds of other managers as potential candidates.  

As their direct line manager we have to fill that void for them.  In a way we have to become ambassadors for our team members, making the connections that might ordinarily have occurred within the co located environment.  We have to look out for them and promote their potential when needed.  

If you are interested in hearing more on the topic of managing remote workers, tune into episode 8 of Squeeze our behavioural podcast.  

Bob Bannister 

Ships Captain.