Working From Home Hurts Your Career Is Fake News
Fear-mongering has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. As a result, there is no shortage of anxiety-inducing headlines designed to grab your attention and create action. For example, reports of a home shortage put more buyers in the market. Likewise, news of a car shortage creates panic buying of cars. Finally, don’t forget the toilet paper situation last year, which resulted in panic buying. My newsfeed is full of articles telling me working from home will hurt my career growth. These articles and “news” stories are fake news. My paranoid self thinks companies use their content generation teams to flood our news and LinkedIn feeds with this message to create fear so workers will return to the office.
However, it is important to note that I don’t work from home. I do work for a global company with offices around the world. In some ways, being in a remote office is similar to working from home. For example, I am not at the corporate office to get face time with key executives. My team and internal stakeholders are spread across multiple locations, so in-person collaboration doesn’t happen often. Yet my career has not stalled, nor have the careers of my peers who work at remote locations. For that reason, I believe working from home will hurt your career is fake news, so please don’t fall for it.
Top 5 Reasons Cited that Working From Home Hurts Your Career
After reviewing hundreds of articles on this topic, these are the most common reasons people want you to think working from home will hurt your career.
Reduced face time with higher-ups.
A New York Post article cited a survey where 48 percent of respondents felt this had hindered their career trajectory. In addition, the respondents felt working from home has hurt their five-year plan because they don’t feel they have advanced as fast as they could have.
Why a lack of face time with executives when working from home hurts your career is fake news. How fast should your career trajectory move? This feels more like an excuse for not doing the work and putting in the effort to grow your career. Face time doesn’t impact your trajectory. However, making sure executives know who you are and how you contribute does. Keeping your boss informed about your work, and more importantly, your successes will filter up through the organization. Scheduling skip-level meetings quarterly will get you the face time needed for your career trajectory. It can happen over Zoom just as easily as in an office. You need to make the meeting happen whether you are in the office or working from home.
Career growth requires presence.
Career growth requires presence. An article on Medium suggests that you climb the ladder because someone promotes you. It says that management acknowledges dedication, strong outcomes, and potential, which only happens when you are seen.
Why you can’t have presence when working from home is fake news. You can demonstrate dedication without someone seeing you. Being responsive, showing up to meetings on time and prepared, delivering your projects on time with high accuracy are a few ways to show dedication. Additionally, data doesn’t lie. Therefore, your outcomes are tangible without management seeing you because they can see the data. Further, not all promotions are because someone promotes you. In a lot of companies, all positions are posted and you have to apply and go through the interview process.
Career growth requires informal knowledge.
The same Medium article suggests the only way to build your network is by being in the office. You can’t learn informal insights about clients, upcoming projects, or management demands because working from home removes casual chats. They want you to think that without that insider knowledge you are disadvantaged.
Why you can’t have casual chats while working from home is fake news. The pandemic has changed how we conduct conference calls and Zoom meetings. We no longer jump into the agenda. Instead, we spend 3–5 minutes engaged in casual chat. The same is true for one-to-ones. Even more, you should randomly reach out to peers and your team to check-in and have that casual chat. With effort and intention, you can gain informal knowledge through random calls, chats, etc.
You can’t build bonds, and therefore can’t build trust.
Suzy Welch posted an article on CNBC where she said the best work in organizations is facilitated by relationships and understandings that can only happen when people are together. Great teams are great because they have lunch, banter, and late nights. She suggests that great bonds get built with layers of trust which is the rocket fuel for careers. She suggests you can only build trust by being present.
Why you can’t build trust while working from home is fake news. How do you build trust? You build it by keeping your word, sharing respect with others, and speaking the truth. Being dependable and ensuring consistency between your behavior and words is another way to build trust. You can do these things while working from home just as well as you can in the office.
You can’t lead when working from home.
So ironic, this one comes from Suzy’s husband, Jack Welch. In an article on Strayer, he says that you have to be seen to lead. People need to know you will stay calm in the face of a PR disaster, how you treat new employees, how much you sweat under pressure, and how hard you work toward a deadline without complaining. He adds that promotions into leadership are about familiarity and trust, which only come from being present.
Why you can’t lead when working from home is fake news. You can demonstrate calm over the phone or video meeting just as you can in person. Additionally, people will advocate for you or negatively talk about you if you mistreat them. News like that spreads quickly no matter where you work. After all, we wouldn’t see so many bad bosses if people were really observing how people treated each other. If promotions into leadership only happened through familiarity, we would see far more internal promotions than we do. As for trust, I already covered that above.
You will miss out on learning from others.
You will miss out on learning from others. In an article on Fool.com, Maurie Backman suggests that you won’t learn as much because you can’t observe others while they work. They equate working from home to working in isolation.
Why your learning is limited when working from home is a myth. Our offices have become cubicle farms, and in an open-office environment, everyone is wearing earbuds to drown out the noise. So how can you effectively observe people working in that kind of setting? You can still watch and learn from people while working from home. It feels like I do hundreds of screen-shares a day to help my team when they are stuck on something. Screen-sharing is also how we conduct job shadowing with our distributed employees. Yes, it is different from in-person observation, but it has been just as effective.
Working From Home Will Hurt Your Career Is Fake News
Don’t get me wrong, each of the reasons cited that working from home will hurt career are true. First, it will hurt people who survive and advance based on charisma and personality. People who rely on their relationship status rather than the outcomes they produce or results they deliver will struggle in a work-from-home setting. Second, it will hurt people who lack initiative or who are afraid to randomly reach out to build relationships with key executives.
In every significant human advancement, there were nay-sayers. Propaganda machines have flooded society with why something won’t work or how awful it will impact you. As a people, we’ve gotten good at creating fear and doubt to hold on to the way things were. We put too much emphasis on our careers and not enough doing things that bring us joy. Working from home has helped us rediscover those things that bring joy.
Don’t fall for the fake news machine telling you working from home will hurt your career. Instead, put in the intention and effort. Do the work, and make sure your boss knows what you are doing and what challenges you overcame. If you have a good boss, that information will flow up, and that will help you meet your career goals.
Originally published at https://www.jasoncortel.com on December 6, 2021.