A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Warsaw has revealed that individuals who work remotely, either full-time or in a hybrid model, are facing significant obstacles in terms of career advancement.

The research, marking the first comprehensive examination of the work-from-home (WFH) phenomenon post-Covid, has unveiled stark findings that challenge the widespread adoption of remote work.

Surveying 937 managers across various industries in the UK, the study revealed a substantial disparity in promotion rates and pay rises between employees who work remotely and those based entirely in the office.

According to the findings, individuals who work entirely from home are 11 percent less likely to receive promotions compared to their office-based counterparts.

Similarly, hybrid workers, who split their time between home and office, faced a 7 percent lower likelihood of securing promotions.

Working remotely: What about pay rises?

In terms of pay increases, the research unveiled a similar pattern. Employees working remotely, whether entirely or in a hybrid capacity, were 9 percent and 7 percent less likely, respectively, to receive a pay rise compared to office-based workers.

One striking aspect of the research is the gender gap it highlights. Men working entirely from home faced a 15 percent lower likelihood of promotion and a 10 percent decreased chance of receiving a pay increase compared to their office-based counterparts. The figures for women were slightly lower, with a 7 percent reduction in promotion likelihood and an 8 percent decrease in the probability of receiving a pay rise.

Lead researchers Agnieszka Kasperska, Professor Anna Matysiak, and Dr Ewa Cukrowska-Torzewska presented their findings at the British Sociological Association’s online annual conference. Kasperska emphasised the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on remote work trends, suggesting that despite its widespread adoption, remote work still carries inherent career penalties.

The study also delved into organisational culture, finding that in environments with demanding work cultures, remote workers faced even steeper penalties. In such settings, managers were approximately 30 percent less likely to promote remote male workers and 19 percent less likely to grant them pay rises compared to their office-bound counterparts. The disparities were slightly lower for women but still significant.

Remote workers face harsher realities

However, the research also pointed out a silver lining: in organisations with supportive environments and family-friendly policies, the penalties for remote work were negligible. In such settings, the negative consequences of remote work on career advancement were not observed.

It is noteworthy that the study meticulously controlled for various factors such as gender, age, experience, skill level, and family situation, isolating the impact of remote work on career progression.

As remote work continues to be a prevalent mode of operation in the post-pandemic era, these findings underscore the urgent need for organisations to address the career disparities faced by remote workers and implement supportive policies to ensure equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of their work location.





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.