Are WFH staff being passed over for promotions?

Home-based workers believe they have a career disadvantage

Are WFH staff being passed over for promotions?

Employees across Australia have expressed concerns over career advancement amid the emerging hybrid workplace. A study from Qualtrics revealed that 46% of Australians believe that in-office workers will have a career advantage compared to those working from home. About 57% of people working in management and 60% in director roles also expressed agreement in the situation.

Another key finding in the study found that 18%, or nearly one in five employees, believe that working remotely can hurt their chances of getting a promotion, while one in 10 believe that remote work can also affect their future pay rises. The study also found that one quarter of the respondents believe that they’ll be invisible to their bosses if they are working from home.

Respondents aged 45 and above are the most concerned about the negative effects of remote work on pay increase, promotion, and visibility to leadership, according to the research. Amid such concerns, 47% of respondents said they’d feel pressured to return to the workplace once restrictions are loosened - even if the companies implement a hybrid work scheme.

There has been a long-held belief in workplaces that working from home could disadvantage some employees and hurt their careers in the long run. With the emergence of hybrid work, with some in the office and some based at home, it could further create divide in the workplace between those who are more visible to managers and those who are not.

Read more: Where do employers stand on flexible work?

Steve Bennetts, senior manager of employee experience growth and strategy for Qualtrics in Asia Pacific and Japan, said in a statement that Australian managers should not underestimate the impact of hybrid work environments in attracting and retaining talent.

"While hybrid might be the preferred operating model for many, simply enabling employees to work wherever they choose is not the answer," said Bennett. "Rather, the challenge for employers is making sure no individual gets left behind or is disadvantaged by the transformations underway."

He said that businesses must ensure inclusivity among all workers - whether in the office or at home - and they should feel heard by employers.

"The most important step businesses and governments can take to ensure their hybrid policies are inclusive of the entire organisation is continuously listening to and taking action on the voice of their employees and candidates," he said. "By uncovering and responding to issues that matter when they matter, employers can co-create working models meeting the needs of their entire workforce to cultivate high-performing and inclusive cultures.”

Read more: NSW mandates COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare workers

Discussions round hybrid workplaces come to the fore as states in Australia start unveiling their re-opening plans. On Monday, New South Wales unveiled the second phase of its Reopening NSW roadmap, which will further loosen restrictions for vaccinated individuals, children under the age of 12, and people with medical exemptions, once jab coverage hits 80%. The guidelines state that employees who can work from home should continue doing so "if reasonably practicable," while those not fully vaccinated are required to render remote work.

"The NSW Government's 70% roadmap lifts fully vaccinated people out of lockdown and when we reach 80%, restrictions will ease even further,” said deputy Premier John Barilaro in a statement.

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