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April 30, 2021
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Essentials

The two sides of the ‘hybrid workplace’ and why you need to know their risks

I used to love walking into the office with my best suit on early in the morning before anyone else was there yet. Getting coffee from the lunchroom and settling into my desk for a productive morning used to be a highlight in my day.


Then I experienced wearing sweatpants every day for a year and I don’t know if I can ever go back into the office. According to recent reports that opinion is part of the majority; half of the surveyed employees won’t return to positions that don’t offer remote work. The headlines can make you believe that fully remote work is the future - but is that in your best interest? This article explores some of the ways that remote work can negatively impact employees.


Surveys find Black workers are happier to work remote

Remote work has also had an unexpected impact on Black employees; compared to their white counterparts Black staff are seven times more likely to want to stay remote. Why? Remote Black workers don’t have the same negative in-person experiences that they risk at work. Since the experience of Black workers is far more negative, 64% of Black employees working from home reported that they were more successful in managing stress. Another 50% said they had an increased feeling of belonging to their team.


Back to work mandates are excluding women

Because of childcare needs, women are more likely to stay at home with their children. With COVID and school shutdowns, millions of women have left the workforce to care for their young kids. Although many of the initial reasons women had to leave work have subsided, it’s estimated that up to 4.5 million childcare slots were permanently erased due to the pandemic. It’s now harder than ever for mothers to find childcare for their children, making it difficult for them to return to work.


So - it sounds like the verdict is in that remote work is the way to go. However, before you throw out all your ties and work pumps, remote work has serious downsides, especially for employees.


You’re less likely to be promoted

Two studies looked at separate large companies based in China and the US - each with half of their call center employees working from home. In both companies, the employees working from home handled at least the same number of calls as their office counterparts. However, the chance that the remote workers would be promoted reduced by half. This indicates that employees working from home are at serious risk of being passed over for job opportunities. For example, the U.S. study found that 23% of it’s in-office employees were promoted in their first 12 months. This was only true for 10% of remote staff.


Low-level employees stand to lose out

Because many employers are cautious about hiring talent with less experience, it’s been difficult for workers in their 20s to share the same hot career market that the over-30 crowd has enjoyed this year. As long as remote work continues to be the norm, this wariness can be expected to continue.


The question of whether to return to work or not is still unclear, but it’s important to not take a one-sided approach to the situation. Ensure you are thinking about the workers most likely to be impacted by your decision and take the steps necessary to include them in the future of your workplace. Online - or not.

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