A study has revealed that employees who work from home are less likely to receive pay rises and promotions compared to their office-based counterparts.

This is the first comprehensive research project to examine the post-Covid work-from-home (WFH) phenomenon.

The study, conducted by Agnieszka Kasperska, Professor Anna Matysiak, and Dr. Ewa Cukrowska-Torzewska from the University of Warsaw, surveyed 937 UK managers. The findings indicate a significant bias against remote workers in terms of career advancement.

Key results from the survey include:

  • Managers were 11 percent less likely to promote employees who worked entirely from home compared to those who were entirely office-based.
  • Hybrid workers, who split their time between home and the office, were 7 percent less likely to receive promotions.
  • Pay rise prospects were also dim for remote workers, with managers being 9 percent less likely to grant raises to those working fully from home and 7 percent less likely to give raises to hybrid workers.

The study also uncovered a gender disparity in the career penalties faced by remote workers:

  • Men working entirely from home were 15 percent less likely to be promoted and 10 percent less likely to receive a pay increase compared to office-based men.
  • Women faced a 7 percent lower likelihood of promotion and an 8 percent lower chance of receiving a pay rise if they worked entirely from home.

Professor Kasperska presented these findings at the British Sociological Association’s online annual conference, highlighting the lingering career disadvantages for remote workers despite the increasing acceptance of WFH practices since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The recent Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a substantial shift towards working from home, potentially influencing employers’ attitudes and companies’ readiness to manage remote employees,” Kasperska stated. “However, our findings indicate that individuals working from home still encounter career penalties, irrespective of the widespread adoption of this mode of work. Both male and female remote workers experience career penalties, but they are substantially larger for men.”

The research also examined how organisational culture impacts these career penalties. In high-pressure work environments, managers were approximately 30 percent less likely to promote and 19 percent less likely to give pay rises to men working from home compared to their office-based peers. Women in similar environments faced a 15 percent lower chance of promotion and a 19 percent lower chance of a pay rise. Conversely, in more supportive and family-friendly organisations, no significant career penalties were observed for remote workers.

The study’s methodology involved presenting managers with profiles of hypothetical full-time employees who varied in their work location (office, home, or hybrid) and other characteristics like gender, age, experience, skill level, and family situation. Adjustments were made to the raw data to isolate the effects of working from home on career outcomes.

These findings suggest a need for businesses to reassess their promotion and pay rise criteria to ensure that remote and hybrid workers are evaluated fairly and equitably.

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.