Being seen in the office within close proximity to bosses, otherwise known as ‘proximity bias’, is being touted as the best way to score a work promotion.
While many workers are now in the drivers’ seat and finally able to dictate whether they work from the office or home, those choosing to head to the office are perceived as having an advantage.
But while flexibility is now the norm, opting to work remotely for the majority of the week could be impacting your career, according to Slack’s Future Forum report.
The new data shows that women and parents are spending the least amount of time in the office, meaning that leaders need to act quickly to guard against inequality.
Eighty-four per cent of men work in the office all or some of the time, compared to 79 per cent of women.
And 75 per cent of parents work remotely or hybrid, compared to 64 per cent of people without children.
The research highlights the fact that people working from home spend the least amount of time in the office and could have their access to professional opportunities limited.
The Slack research also found there’s a growing concern that ‘proximity bias’ could lead to inequalities between remote and in-office employees – and could entrench deeper structural inequalities in the workplace.
The risk of proximity bias is exacerbated by different preferences between executives and employees.
Forty-two per cent of executives report they work from the office three to four days a week, compared to just 30 per cent of non-executives.
Proximity bias is now executives’ number one priority regarding flexible work. Forty-one per cent of executives cite the potential for inequities to develop between remote and in-office employees as their top concern.
One way to overcome proximity bias is to ensure all team members are able to equally participate in meetings. Compiling a meeting agenda well ahead of time and circulating it can help everyone gather their thoughts and contribute to the discussion.
The Slack report also highlighted the need for executives to address the issue of a level playing field for all employees. For example, by limiting the number of days a week that executives spend in the office, or setting a meeting policy that ‘if one dials in, all dial in’ so that team players aren’t being excluded from conversations because they’re working from home that day.
Meanwhile, the research also warns that executives concerned about the uptick in the number of resignations during 2022 should take requests for more flexibility seriously.
It found that 72 per cent of workers dissatisfied with their current level of flexibility at work say they are likely to look for a new job in the next year.
And 75 per cent of executives currently working completely remotely say they would prefer to work from the office three or more days a week, compared to 37 per cent of non-executives.
The Future Forum Pulse surveyed just under 11,000 knowledge workers in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the UK in November last year. The survey was conducted by Qualtrics.