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Neal Templin: Climbing the career ladder? Telecommuting probably won't help

Neal Templin, on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Ever since telecommuting became a reality for millions of Americans, researchers have been studying whether work-from-home employees pay a career price.

Spoiler alert: They do. But there are steps workers can take to lessen the damage.

A new study in the Journal of Vocational Behavior finds telecommuters get as many promotions as traditional workers. But that comes with a big caveat. The work-at-home crowd gets smaller increases in salary.

The finding hammers home what most workers know intuitively: Not seeing your boss regularly hurts your career. For those working in another city or state, far away from a boss but perhaps enjoying better weather and lower housing costs, dropping by the office isn't so easy. For those nearby, it may be an imperative, if advancing and earning top dollar is your plan.

Why? Even if you're doing top-notch work from home, there is always a suspicion that you're less dedicated because you do it from your kitchen table instead of hopping in a car or climbing on a train and commuting into work. Indeed, the new study found those who work remotely the most get hurt the most.

The study echoes the findings of a 2012 article in the MIT Sloan Management Review. "Employees who work remotely may end up getting lower performance evaluations, smaller raises and fewer promotions than their colleagues in the office -- even if they work just as hard and just as long," the authors wrote.


Remote workers miss out on important workplace cues on matters big and small. You may hear about that enticing new job opening while chatting with a colleague at the coffee machine. By the time it's officially posted weeks later, it may be too late to begin your campaign for the position.

Employers regularly trot out dubious initiatives. Without being in the office, it can be hard to determine which ones can be safely ignored and which ones are truly a big deal.

Little things matter. There is value in knowing who spends a lot of time in your boss's office -- and who doesn't. There is value knowing what makes your boss leap out of their chair -- and what doesn't.

What can home-bound workers do to remain valued?


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