How to safeguard your career against proximity bias in remote work

Jan 31, 2022

Remote work was a growing trend even before the pandemic thoroughly disrupted the traditional workplace, but the last three years have given companies the opportunities to reevaluate their management processes and offer employees a more flexible office environment. Many organizations are embracing remote work in a hybrid model, where some employees work from home part- or full-time while others put in more face time at the office. But where there’s remote work, there’s a growing challenge for employees and managers alike known as ‘proximity bias’.

Proximity bias is the idea that employees with close physical relation to their team and company leaders will be perceived as “better workers” and ultimately find more success in the workplace than their remote counterparts. As companies navigate this new hybrid work environment, it’s important for employers to remain inclusive.

In a recent SmartBrief article, seven strategies were identified individuals can use to combat proximity bias and ensure that remote or hybrid work doesn’t undermine their careers.

  1. Add value – Whether it’s asking to take on more responsibility or leverage skills that will elevate your performance, think of ways to valuably contribute in order to achieve success
  2. Spotlight your contributions – Since it can be challenging for supervisors to observe your hard work firsthand, be sure to showcase your commitment and dedication by communicating various accomplishments amongst your team
  3. Make meetings matter – Preparing comments and questions in advance can ensure you have an even more vibrant presence during virtual meetings
  4. Deepen social connections – Take responsibility of relationship building by initiating opportunities to interact with colleagues
  5. Establish clear expectations – Ensure that you have clear expectations and measurable objectives that will serve as a standard against which to evaluate results
  6. Master appropriate technology – Familiarize yourself with the right tools to stay productive and connected
  7. Be an active participant – Flexibility is key in a hybrid work environment; in many cases it’s important to make yourself available and accessible as much as possible from afar

Let’s face it, the entire workforce is having to adjust behaviors to promote success amongst all employees near and far. While its the employer’s responsibility to actively combat proximity bias and ensure an even playing field for everyone, employees can use strategies like those mentioned above to not just protect their career but also promote greater success while working from a distance.