Workers Believe There Is A Negative Stigma Associated With Working From Home – Forbes

Since transitioning to hybrid working models, many leaders are directing their employees to engage in frequent facetime on video platforms to compensate for the loss of physical connectivity. While this sentiment is somewhat endearing, scheduling countless online meetings is indicative of the need for people to be present and seen – a need that has traditionally fuelled workplace presenteeism, yet in this new world of work this could trigger “proximity bias.”

That’s according to a new study from LinkedIn, the world’s largest and most illustrious professional network, providing important insight into the ‘future of work.’ Its latest empirical study, comprising more than 1,300 C-level executives across Europe at organizations with an excess of 1,000 employees and $250+ million annual turnover, highlights that as businesses increasingly offer hybrid and remote working, leaders’ most significant concern relates to home-working employees being excluded from promotion or career decisions (32%). This is due to proximity bias, a notion that advantages workers demonstrating close physical distance to their executives by considering them better than their remote counterparts. 

Employees are equally concerned, and so they should be. A complementary study from LinkedIn of more than 7,500 workers across the region finds that 44% believe working from home may negatively impact their career due to less facetime with their boss, and nearly half (47%) believe that people choosing to work from an office are more likely to be favored by bosses and senior management. Consequently, it isn’t surprising to learn that nearly two-fifths (39%) believe a negative stigma is associated with working from home. 

This comes at an interesting time, as LinkedIn has observed a 142increase in remote jobs advertised in Europe during the last twelve months. With the vast majority (86%) of businesses planning to offer employees greater flexibility around where they work, leaders are now focused on ensuring employees feel included – regardless of their location. 

“We must not undo the great progress made over the past 19 months and succumb to presenteeism,” warns Josh Graff, Managing Director, EMEA and LATAM, at LinkedIn. “There is no question that greater flexibility is good for both people and businesses, but leaders and managers need to ensure workplace policies are designed so that everyone feels included – regardless of where they work.”  

MORE FOR YOU

This sentiment is shared by Professor Vijay Pereira, Full Professor in International and Strategic Human Capital Management and Head of Department of the People and Organizations faculty at NEOMA Business School, in France. He believes that in today’s turbulent and highly competitive environment, organizations demand differing capabilities for effective and efficient responses towards increased levels of uncertainty, complexity, and unpredictability. In both research and practice, these responses have been associated with the concept of agility and flexibility. However, he warns that flexibility must not be suffocated by physical proximity and face-to-face presenteeism. Doing so has the potential to disrupt firm-wide innovation and performance severely. 

Pereira has studied the relationship between innovation and performance and is currently Europe’s 3rd ranked scholar in terms of research outputs in business and management. His seminal works examine the connection through an internationalization lens within outsourcing, and offshoring as a phenomenon that has reshaped industries and their management globally. Pereira, the elected Vice President of the Academy of International Business (AIB), Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has lived and worked in the UAE from 2016 to 2020. Thus, in terms of research within the context of the Middle East, his seminal works include “The state of HRM in the Middle East: Challenges and future research agenda,” published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Management. More recently, Pereira co-edited a special issue on the Middle East titled “International Business Research and Scholarship in the Middle East – Developments and Future Directions” in the journal International Studies of Management and Organization. He concludes that “in practical terms, leaders and organizations, irrespective of geographic context, must develop innovative ways, such as flexible work hours and conditions, as part of being agile, not only gain a competitive advantage but to survive the difficult times ahead.”  

According to LinkedIn, leaders plan to achieve flexibility, while also ensuring everyone feels included regardless of their location, by encouraging managers to direct with empathy and trust and avoid forming biases based on where people choose to work. 37% intend to promote social interactions at the start of meetings to bring everyone together, and 36% plan to establish new behaviors and etiquette. The vast majority (84%) of executives also intend to introduce training courses to help people work effectively in flexible working environments. The top skills leaders say are needed most to successfully lead a distributed workforce are trust (44%), communication (43%), and inclusive leadership (40%). Pereira’s latest article published by the Journal of World Business titled “Agility and flexibility in international business research: A comprehensive review and future research directions” critically analyses, maps and structures flexibility and agility research and concludes that courses in these specific areas can produce significant impact. So much so that Pereira will be addressing the much-awaited Dubai Expo 2020 on their significance and likelihood of impact. 

Advertised as the “world’s greatest show,” the influential expo is slated to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to bring communities of leaders together to exchange inspiring new ideas and perspectives across three sub-themes – Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability. Trust, communication, and inclusive leadership feature strongly; consider, for example, that every participating country has an individual pavilion for the first time in World Expo history, a breakthrough celebrating diversity, culture, and uniqueness. Consequently, the expo being the largest gathering of businesses globally since the pandemic hit in early 2020, will witness influential stakeholders such as investors and government representatives networking and exchanging ideas on the future of work, including strategies on hybrid and flexible remote working models. 

This is important because over three-quarters (79%) of business leaders believe that enabling greater flexibility can also help improve their workforce’s diversity, culture, and uniqueness. The top reason cited by leaders in LinkedIn’s study is that flexible working will appeal to a broad range of people who need it the most (57%), including those with caregiving responsibilities, disabilities, and people who can’t afford to live in big cities. As a result, 73% of leaders are committed to creating fairer and more equitable workplaces. 

Pereira will be considering how to create fairer and more equitable workplaces at the Dubai Expo, and will be present from November to December 2021 to experience, meet and collaborate with industry and governments on several exciting research initiatives aligned with LinkedIn’s latest study. Some immediate tools include free LinkedIn Learning online learning courses, namely, Unconscious BiasDiversity, Inclusion, and BelongingSkills for Inclusive Conversations, and Coaching Skills for Leaders and Managers.

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.